New apartments, retail space coming to historic former Bessemer city hall

The 60-unit, multi-use space will be the first redevelopment of its kind in downtown Bessemer.
The 60-unit, multi-use space will be the first redevelopment of its kind in downtown Bessemer. (Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now)

Plans are in the works to transform Bessemer’s former city hall space into a mixed-use development, bringing new housing units and retail space downtown. This is great news and a huge step in revitalizing the downtown Bessemer area! Here’s why.

New Use for the Old City Hall

Scott Crawford Inc., a Milwaukee-based developer, is purchasing the vacant property from the city for $200,000. They will oversee the $10 million dollar renovation, partnering with Cardinal Capital Management Inc., Montgomery Martin Communications LLC, and LifeTagger LLC on the development.

The City of Bessemer approved the sale of the three-story building built in 1938. (Photo via City of Bessemer)

Transforming the 1938 Building

Once finished, the property at 1800 3rd Avenue North will feature 60-housing units and also 4,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.


City officials say developers intend to uphold the cool historical features of the art-deco building, such as the limestone trim and large city hall clock that dates back to the 1890s.

According to developers, the building will help cultivate an “amenity-rich, cross-generational neighborhood” designed for working millennials, young families and empty nesters. Again, such great news for the downtown Bessemer area!

Bessemer City Hall c. 1945. (Photo via Bham Wiki)
Bessemer City Hall and Municipal Auditorium c. 1945. (Photo via Bham Wiki)

“We look forward to continuing our work with the City of Bessemer and our local partners to provide quality housing for the citizens in downtown Bessemer,” said Que El-Amin, Principal of Scott Crawford, Inc.


Redevelopment Timeline

The sale of the building is expected to close in November and is contingent on the close of a parcel of land next door to the former City Hall facility.
According to city officials, developers will have two years to begin construction. Once started, they’ll have 18 months to complete the job.

The project is the product of a year-long collaboration between developers, the Mayor’s office and the city of Bessemer.

“We’re committed to revitalizing our downtown and this proposal aligns with our vision for the future of downtown Bessemer,” said Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley.


Amazon - Mobile, Alabama
The projected 2020 opening of the Bessemer Amazon fulfillment center will bring an estimated 1,500 jobs to the area. (Photo via Amazon)

Amazon Anticipation Building

The redevelopment has only just begun in Bessemer as developers from around the country anticipate the area’s needs for the 2020 opening of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. The $325 million fulfillment center is expected to bring over 1,500 jobs to the area.

Amazon
The official groundbreaking at the site of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Bessemer. (Photo by Pat Byington for Bham Now)

This redevelopment is the first of hopefully many to come as other developers continue to come forward to express interest in the area.

“Amazon’s announcement has sparked another round of interest from companies who can see the value in being in the area and taking advantage of the anticipated job growth in the city,” said Toraine Norris, chief of staff for Bessemer Mayor Kenneth Gulley.


Building History

The former Bessemer City Hall building was built between 1938 to 1941 by the Works Progress Administration. It originally housed city hall, the municipal auditorium and retail space on the first floor.

It was also the site of a 1979 package bombing that killed one person and injured three others. The structure itself only suffered minor damage from the event.

In 2012, the building was declared “in a deplorable state” by the Bessemer City Council. It has been vacant since 2016.


Multi-Use Space on the Rise

Developments like these are the lifeblood of the recent revitalization of many downtown areas. Consisting of both residential and commercial space, they help create a more convenient, centralized place to live, play and work in an urban environment.

Birmingham has seen an influx of redeveloped mixed-use spaces as residents continue to relocate to the downtown area.

There are only three spaces still up for grabs in the Printers Corner development. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)
Printers Corner, an unrelated mixed-use development currently under construction in Birmingham, is one of the many redevelopments in downtown Birmingham breathing residential life back into the urban area. (Photo by Christine Hull for Bham Now)

LifeTagger App

The proposed development will utilize the latest in technology including proximity-based messaging app through a platform called LifeTagger.


“Our goal is to not only provide a beautiful development but to also embrace technology while creating a connected, informed, and inclusive downtown Bessemer. Wherever you live in the city, we will be using LifeTagger technology to create an enhanced experience for you every time you visit downtown Bessemer,” said Kendrick Pullen, co-founder of LifeTagger.

According to the LifeTagger website, the app is “a platform for creating, distributing, and receiving content based on your proximity to people, places, things or ideas.”

Do you think this redevelopment will bring in more revitalization efforts to downtown Bessemer? Let us know on our social channels, find us @bhamnow !