Something huge is brewing in downtown Birmingham. Next September marks the 10 year anniversary of Railroad Park’s opening, and over the past decade, the area surrounding the park has taken on a life of its own. Some big players in Birmingham have teamed up on a master plan for Parkside—keep reading to find out what’s coming.
First Things First—The Project at a Glance
The Parkside master plan is designed to enhance walkability and connect the Parkside District to surrounding neighborhoods. The project includes preservation and redevelopment plans for Powell Avenue Steam Plant and several historic warehouses surrounding Good People Brewing.
Think of it as “phase 2” of the Railroad Park project that will continue to breathe life back into downtown Birmingham. There are two sides to the plan—Parkside East and Parkside West.
- Parkside West will be an urban commons taking up two city blocks and will offer around 100,000 sq. ft. of retail, restaurant, and commercial space.
- Parkside East will be an entertainment hub as well as an urban trailhead.
Connecting the Community in More Ways than One
As Birmingham continues to gain national recognition, the city needs to be prepared for more and more visitors coming to experience all our Magic City has to offer.
Think about all the great cities you’ve ever visited—most have walkable downtowns. Parkside is the ideal place to get out and experience Birmingham on foot.
“Trails are vital to a community.
Not only do they improve walkability and promote healthy living… Most importantly, they attract business and residents to our city.”Rusha Smith, Executive Director of the Freshwater Land Trust
Here are some other key community partners:
The Announcement was Held in the Powell Avenue Steam Plant—Why?
All the moving parts of this project came together to host a standing-room-only announcement in the heart of their vision: the Powell Avenue Steam Plant.
Here’s what it was:
The Powell Avenue Steam Plant was built in 1895. It provided steam and electricity for downtown businesses and has stood as a staple in the Birmingham landscape for decades. Read more about its history.
Here’s what it will be:
So, why does this matter to the new Parkside master plan? Just as the plant provided power to the city of Birmingham for over a century, developers are aiming to use it to energize this whole redevelopment.
The steam plant will be renovated to become an exciting entertainment venue designed for movies, music, events, retail, restaurants, and more.
On the other side of Powell Avenue, the plan calls for a monumental structure with contemporary details. This multi-use building moves from open public spaces up into Birmingham’s finest hotel rooms to its most exclusive apartment residences.
Preservation is a priority for this project, in addition to the growth it hopes to bring. The Steam Plant is a major piece of Birmingham’s history that is getting a new lease on life as the critical western anchor point for Parkside.
“Now this historic structure will become a symbol of modern urbanization and economic development, connecting our communities to celebrate the future of Birmingham.”Tony Smoke, vice president of Birmingham Division for Alabama Power
This Sounds Big—What’s the Timeline?
This was my question, too.
According to Orchestra Partners Principal Hunter Renfroe, construction will be in full swing by the end of next year. The project is estimated to be completed within the next 2.5-3 years.