New $250m skyscraper, The Block, proposed for 2nd Ave N Birmingham

200814 The Block Renderings 3 New $250m skyscraper, The Block, proposed for 2nd Ave N Birmingham
Dansby Tower. Rendering via The Ultimate Fan – TUF, Inc.

The Block could be coming to Birmingham: a proposed $250m mixed-use entertainment destination development planned for 2nd Avenue North, between 19th and 20th Streets in the city center. It’s slated to tie together the Downtown Birmingham Retail and Theatre Historic District and The Switch, our new innovation district. Keep reading for all the details. 

The Block would be brought to us by Karlos Dansby + his Arizona-based biz partner Teddy Holloway

When we reached out to the developer, we learned that The Block will be the largest development that is owned, developed, managed and operated by a Black-owned development firm in the world.

If you’re a football fan, you probably already know Karlos Dansby. He’s a 14-year NFL veteran linebacker and an Auburn football legend. If you’re not a football fan, you’ve probably heard about the grocery stores (Dansby Foods) he’s been opening up here in 5 Points West and Southside, with a corporate office in the newly-opened Iron Age Building

The Ultimate Fan, TUF, Inc. is the real estate development company started by Dansby and Holloway
This is the company that’s proposing The Block. Graphic via Teddy Holloway

Theodore R. Holloway III (Teddy) is the Founder/Chairman and CEO of The Ultimate Fan, TUF Inc., and has 20+ years of business and real estate development experience. The Ultimate Fan, TUF Inc was founded by Dansby and Holloway to unite athletes and entertainers to stimulate business and real estate development projects in economically distressed communities. 

Circle West Architects is the internationally-recognized and award-winning firm that has designed this new 1,250,000 square foot urban mixed-use environment that will adaptively reuse historic buildings. They’re also planning a flexible indoor/outdoor pedestrian experience with a mix of locally-owned restaurants, bars, event/music venus, hotels and cafes. 

The Block would be a “build and fill” project

Build and Fill is when the Owner/Developer owns the buildings and owns, manages and operates the businesses inside the building for a more secure and sustainable financial development. 

They’re also collaborating on other projects around the world

While this is TUF’s first entertainment destination development, they’re currently collaborating with NFL Vet Garry Gilliam and his group, The Bridge EcoVillage to redevelop economically distressed areas throughout the US and Internationally.

The Block would bring 2000 full- and part-time living wage jobs to Birmingham

The Block is a proposed $250m new development in Downtown Birmingham
A rendering of The Block. Rendering via The Ultimate Fan, TUF, Inc.

Let that sink in for a minute. Two thousand jobs. To our area. This alone is reason enough to be excited about the project. 

The Dansby Tower would become the tallest building in Birmingham and the state of Alabama

Dansby Tower will be the tallest skyscraper in the state of Alabama, if it's built. Phase III of The Block
Dansby Tower will be the tallest skyscraper in the state of Alabama, if it’s built. Rendering via The Ultimate Fan, TUF, Inc.

The third phase of the project is the 48-story, just under-700-foot Dansby Tower, which, if completed, will claim the title not only of Birmingham’s tallest building, edging out the 34-story Wells Fargo Tower, which was completed in 1986, according to Wikipedia, but the tallest building in Alabama. 

The plan is for it to include residential and hotel units, helping to create an urban ecovillage where people can live, work, shop, stay, play and dine at The Block. The ground floor is slated to house a grocery store as well as meeting and event space. 

The Block would tie together Birmingham’s entertainment and innovation districts

The Alabama Theatre is part of the historic theatre and retail district in Downtown Birmingham.
The Alabama Theatre’s iconic sign. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

The developer said that Dansby, a Birmingham native who played for Woodlawn High School back in the day, thought this location would be great for two reasons: 

  • It’s centrally located, between the entertainment and innovation districts.
  • The whole block is owned by one owner—Ladd Real Estate

Ladd Real Estate plans to sell the property to TUF, recognizing what a tremendous opportunity this is for the city of Birmingham. 

The Switch Innovation District - The Block will be near here
The Switch Innovation District. Map courtesy of REV Birmingham

The plan is to open the first two phases of The Block before The World Games 2022

The World Games 2022
The World Games 2022. Photo via The World Games 2022

Here’s the proposed timeline for the project: 

  • 1st Quarter 2021: Block I, Phase I, Grand Opening before the 2022 World Games
  • 2nd Quarter 2021: Block II, Phase II, Grand Opening before the 2022 World Games 
  • 4th Quarter 2021: Dansby Tower, to be opened in the 2nd Quarter of 2023

Can you imagine how awesome this could be, for all the athletes and their families to have a fun new place to go to have a great time right on 2nd Avenue? 

The impact The Block could have on Birmingham is huge

Birmingham, Vulcan Park and Museum , Driver's Way, Vulcan statue
View of Birmingham, AL from the top of Vulcan. Photo via Vulcan Park and Museum

The estimated numbers on this project could be a huge boost to Birmingham’s economy. Take a look: 

  • Over 2.5 million guests annually 
  • $133 Million in annual gross sales

Check out The Block’s website to learn more about the project, and be sure to tag us @bhamnow to let us know your thoughts!

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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