REV Birmingham has released a state of downtown report & the future looks bright

View of Birmingham's skyline from Railroad Park
Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham. Photo via Pat Byington for Bham Now

REV Birmingham, an economic development nonprofit, released the state of downtown report covering how downtown has been affected by the pandemic and the clear-cut path to recovery. They have gathered enough data (business is on the rise!) to help BHM stakeholders plan for the future of downtown. Importantly, REV Birmingham believes our Magic City is in great shape to take advantage of this growth.

REV is leading the way with their report

Gathering data from June 2021, REV has accumulated enough info to forecast the steps needed to gain foot traffic. They believe in Birmingham’s vibrancy, or the point where diverse and authentic places gather. In fact, the vibrancy of Birmingham is our future.

Birmingham’s beautiful downtown. Photo via Matthew Niblett for Bham Now

The only way is up

Downtown is witnessing the market steadily rise after the shut-down from the pandemic. In fact, businesses have had a net gain of openings! The foot traffic on 1st Ave N and Morris Ave is higher by 4.6% than the 2019 count. However, Five Points South is down by -16.1%. Come on Bham, Five Points needs us!

Two people looking out the window at Birmingham downtown.
Our vibrant downtown. Photo via REV Birmingham.

What the future holds

We all know that the workplace is changing, but how are Bham businesses adapting? REV talked to our businesses and found that 90% offered remote work during the pandemic. Presently, 19% are back in the offices and 42% plan on going back by September. 

Yet, the hybrid work model is popular by many employees. REV found that 72.73% of Bham employees prefer working hybrid. Working hybrid expectantly will bring less foot traffic. But REV is confident that the state of downtown businesses is the right size to handle this shift. 

Mural of it's nice to have you in Birmingham
The iconic “it’s nice to have you in bham” mural. Photo via @exploreuab on Instagram

Designing Bham’s future

REV wants to take this hybrid work model to build architectural solutions. The plan involves 3 actions:

  • build flexible communal spaces (such as outdoor seating)
  • create informal collaboration work places
  • foster enriching and positive experiences (think plants and coffee!)
The REV flex lane
REV’s flex lane on 20th street. Photo via REV Birmingham

REV noticed the demand for outdoor seating. So, they created the flex lane located on 20th St N. This combined the space of Zaza and El Barrio, which makes for an enjoyable communal space!

Downtown’s fundamentals are strong, and we’re ready to recover. The key initiatives outlined in the report are intended to build on downtown’s assets and further unlock its potential so that we can keep downtown attractive for people–to encourage the return of employees downtown as well as promote job growth. A vibrant downtown needs authentic places and diverse people, and we need more people right now to kick our vibrancy factor up.

Director of Communications, Julie McKinney

The state of downtown is vibrant

The residential area, according to REV’s data, has grown 38% over the last 10 years. This is because of employment opportunities and education. But wait, there’s more! The renovation of the Legacy Arena and the building of Protective Stadium keeps people wanting to stay here. There are plenty of events and entertainment.

Street view of the Pizitz building
The historic Pizitz. Photo via REV Birmingham

Play your part Bham. REV Birmingham is urgently hopeful for the state of downtown. But, they can’t do it alone. Support local business to keep Birmingham vibrant.

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Summer Guffey
Summer Guffey

Art enthusiast and expert on all things tea.

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