The Bessemer area has exploded with new jobs and opportunities in the past couple years. One part that is now catching up with the times is the Bessemer Train Depot, now that it has been purchased by Brian Giattina, Blox CFO and founder of Bessemer Redevelopment Corps. Keep reading to see the past, present and future of this Bessemer icon.
A storied past
The history of the American Great Southern Railway Train Depot in Bessemer began in 1917 when the depot was first built as a replacement for former wooden shacks that served five railroads in Bessemer. American Great Southern Railway built the depot, intended to house passengers between trains.
Most recently, the Depot was purchased by Blox CFO Brian Giattina through his nonprofit the Bessemer Train Depot, LLC. as part of his Bessemer Revitalization Corps. The clean-up process has already begun, with 40 20-foot dumpsters of garbage being removed from the site.
Moving in the right direction
In due time, the Southern Railway Terminal will be renovated to become a communal space for Bessemer residents to congregate.
Giattina’s plans include adding a community garden concept within the next few months that will provide locals fresh fruits and vegetables for little to no cost. The project will also bring in art and music classes for children and adults. The goal is to provide an increased access to nutritional food and education for Bessemer residents.
His energy and excitement for this project is tangible, even over the phone. He describes the goal of the Depot revitalization effort:
“We see this project as a way to begin to pull some folks together and offer them a place that’s as low cost as it can possibly be. We want to get folks working together and align our resources to tackle some of these problems.”Brian Giattina, Blox CFO
The hope for the Bessemer Train Depot revitalization project is to uplift the entire Bessemer community, and particularly the downtown area. The project is also working with the Bessemer Hall of History to further improve the Depot and full development.
“From a geographic location, it’s very interesting. The site is next to the railroad tracks that have this historical perspective. It also has a high visibility from folks coming in via Carolina. Due to its proximity, it also has the ability to connect with the Bessemer History Center. It’s important to us that we are working together.”Brian Giattina, Blox CFO
A passion for Bessemer
The future of the train depot in Bessemer is bright. Giattina credits the dedication of the Bessemer Redevelopment Corp. and Bessemer’s elected officials like Mayor Gulley and the city council for laying an excellent foundation for the Depot and affordable housing development projects.
But Giattina’s passion for revitalizing Bessemer goes a long way, backed by equally energetic and excited people.
“It’s in our DNA to try to leave a place better than when you found it. You don’t go in and take, you go in and you contribute. Dad [Joe Giattina, President Emeritus of Giattina Aycock Architecture] always said, ‘a building doesn’t make a community, its people and parks and businesses all kind of come together.’ So we’ve been just trying to figure out how we could make a meaningful, kind of gift back to the city. We’ve been looking at housing, in downtown redevelopment and other things.”Brian Giattina, Blox CFO
In recent years Bessemer has experienced great growth, with the addition of Amazon, Blox, Lowes, and other companies providing tons of jobs to the area. The Train Depot renovation is expected to help nourish and educate current and future Bessemer residents as they come into town for these new jobs.
Learn more about Blox and how they have helped the Birmingham area in this Bham Now story from last year.