Big plans for Birmingham’s Civil Rights and Innovation Districts

Historic 4th Avenue Business District
Birmingham’s Historic 4th Avenue Business District. Photo via Birmingham City Council

A master development plan is in the works for downtown Birmingham’s Civil Rights and Innovation Districts. Behind the plan are local nonprofits Urban Impact and REV Birmingham. Keep reading to find out what this means and why it matters.

1. Downtown Birmingham’s Northwest Quadrant: home to the Civil Rights and Innovation Districts

The Civil RIghts District and the Innovation District make up key parts of downtown Birmingham's northwest quadrant
The Civil Rights District and the Innovation District make up key parts of downtown Birmingham’s northwest quadrant. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Did you know that the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, the City of Birmingham and REV Birmingham recently released a new Birmingham City Center Master Plan? This’ll give you a good taste for that plan and what leaders are envisioning for our city.

The Northwest Downtown master development plan RFP builds off the City Center Master Plan. Its two main objectives are:

  1. To knit the Civil Rights and Innovation Districts together in an intentional way that’s focused on economic development and historic preservation.
  2. To create intentional linkages to neighborhoods such as Smithfield and Fountain Heights that have been effectively cut off by I-59/20 and I-65.
Map showing connectivity to the surrounding neighborhoods
The successful master development plan for downtown Birmingham’s northwest quadrant will emphasize connectivity with the Central Business District, Fountain Heights, Smithfield and Parkside. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

2. “A unified vision for the northwest quadrant of downtown Birmingham”

Ivan Holloway of Urban Impact
Ivan Holloway, Executive Director, Urban Impact. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

“This master plan represents a unified vision throughout the northwest quadrant of downtown, encompassing both the Civil Rights District and Innovation District.

It will help create transformative redevelopment and revitalization opportunities that will encourage our citizens to connect, build, invest and grow our community.”

Ivan Holloway, Executive Director, Urban Impact

3. Who’s behind the RFP for the master development plan?

People from Urban Impact and REV Birmingham
Darlene Wilson, former Board Chair, REV Birmingham; David Fleming, President and CEO at REV Birmingham; Lucien Blankenship, Chairman of the Board, Urban Impact. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Two key nonprofits are behind the RFP: Urban Impact and REV Birmingham. Here’s why they’re invested:

  • Urban Impact has been leading economic growth for the Civil Rights District and the Historic 4th Avenue Business District since 1980. Turns out the Historic 4th Avenue Business District was one of the largest commercial districts of African-American owned businesses in the country.
  • REV Birmingham has been doing the same for the Innovation District. Just north of Parkside, this area is the up-and-coming home to more than 100 tech startups and entrepreneurs in downtown Birmingham.

Want to get involved? Here’s how.

Urban Impact board member Anthony Hood and Councilor Darryl O'Quinn
Anthony Hood, Board Member, Urban Impact and Councilor Darryl O’Quinn. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

If you or someone you know is interested in submitting a proposal in response to the RFP, the deadline is Friday, January 31.

More on the Northwest Downtown master development plan.

Now tell us, Birmingham, what do you think this new plan for the Civil Rights and Innovation Districts?