Two previously dormant buildings in Birmingham are set to come back to life

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2200 Magnolia Avenue Building. Previously the site of a fire station, bakery, coffeehouse and antique mall, the newly repurposed building across from Brother Bryan Park will house Retail Specialists and Strategies. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Two buildings on Birmingham’s southside and in the Central Business District on the city’s northside are set to come back to life in 2019 and 2020. Both projects are prime examples of developments that meet Urban Land Institute of Alabama’s mission and priorities, according the Merrill Stewart, of Stewart Perry Construction, a ULI Alabama Board member and contractor of the two projects.

Merrill Stewart

The two re-developments are the Stonewall Building on 23rd and 4th Avenue North, and the 2200 Magnolia Avenue Building at corner of 22st Street and Magnolia Avenue.

“They both meet the ULI mission, because one re-develops a building for affordable housing in our city and the other takes a building that sat vacant for many years and has re-purposed it back into new life,” said Stewart. “Both projects also encourage a more walkable city.”

Merrill Stewart (center) providing a tour of the renovations at the Redmont Hotel. Photo by Erin Gray from the ULI Alabama Facebook page

The mission of the Urban Land Institute is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. ULI’s “pillars” include ensuring affordable housing, promotion of a resilient and sustainable built environment, and best practices that serve a community’s needs.

2200 Magnolia Avenue Building

Corner of 2200 Magnolia Avenue Building and Brother Bryan Park in Birmingham. Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now

Sitting across from Brother Bryan Park, the site of the Magnolia Avenue Building was a fire station at the turn of the 20th century, a bakery in 1923, a coffeehouse in the 1960s, and an antique mall in the 80s. The building has been vacant for the last 10-15 years until Mike Mouran recently purchased the property and begun redeveloping it into an exciting new repurposed office space. The space is going to be home to Retail Specialists and Strategies.

Along with reviving the area, Stewart recognized how the new development encourages walking and use of the nearby green space.

“I was down there recently, I looked across to the city park (Brother Bryan Park) and thought, what a nice marriage of corporate headquarters with a city park,” added Stewart.

Stonewall Building or American Life Building

Built in 1925, the American Life Building is slated to become affordable housing. Photo by Pat Byington, for Bham Now

Before the end of 2018, Stewart Perry Construction will be starting construction of the adaptive re-use of 14-story Stonewall Building or sometimes called the American Life Building into affordable housing units.

They will be converting the building to approximately 145 affordable micro units. Affordable housing is especially needed in Birmingham, considering all the recent re-development condo projects in the city. Units will be around 500 square feet, with a kitchenette, bathroom, and an area for a bedroom and small seating area.

Stewart concluded, “Beyond the re-development aspect, it also is a neighbor to the YWCA which went through a transformation several years ago. To me, this will help spur the re-development in that area of Birmingham and our community. Affordable housing is something we do not need to forget while we march along our city center developments.”

Bringing people together – ULI Alabama

ULI Alabama members. Photo from ULI Alabama Facebook page

ULI-Alabama is promoting these kind of adaptive re-use projects, re-developments of open space, and wise transportation decisions. The goal of the organization is to bring people from all walks of life to design and initiate the best practices for urban development in the Magic City. Be a part of this special movement.

Join ULI -Alabama today.

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Author: Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.