Alamo Drafthouse Cinema announced as anchor tenant at Powell Steam Plant, opening Fall 2023

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The Powell Steam Plant in Birmingham’s Parkside. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

On Thursday, February 3rd, representatives from Orchestra Partners, Alabama Power, the City of Birmingham and other key partners met at the historic Powell Steam Plant to announce the mixed-use development’s anchor tenant: Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Keep reading to learn more about this exciting addition to Parkside & what’s next!

About the Powell Steam Plant

Located at 1830 Powell Avenue, the Powell Steam Plant is among the oldest buildings in Birmingham. Constructed in 1895, the steam plant burned coal to produce steam and electricity to businesses and streetcar lines in downtown. According to BhamWiki, the steam plant was still in operation as recently as the early 2000’s, serving customers like UAB, the UAB Callahan Eye Hospital and the Alabama Theatre.

In December 2020, Bham Now reported that the Powell Steam Plant will be a large part of the Parkside Master Plan, which aims to further enhance walkability and connect the Parkside District to surrounding areas. Local developer Orchestra Parters plans to renovate the Powell Steam Plant as an exciting new entertainment venue, designed to host movies, concerts, large events and much more.

Introducing Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Powell Steam Plant’s anchor tenant

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A rendering of the themed bar at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in the Powell Steam Plant. (Orchestra Partners)

At Thursday morning’s press conference, Orchestra Partners announced that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema would be the first major tenant to occupy the Powell Steam Plant development.

“A little over two years ago, I was here at this podium, excited to announce the start of the Parkside Master Plan. [Orchestra Partners] has been really focused on finding the right anchor tenant to start and kick off this project. REV Birmingham has been a great partner in both the Powell Steam Plant and the Parkside Master Plan. Urban Impact has helped us think about inclusivity and how to connect to the neighborhoods outside of Birmingham, and the Freshwater Land Trust pioneered a lot of connection here in downtown Birmingham with the Rotary Trail.”

Hunter Renfroe, Principal and Co-founder, Orchestra Partners
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Orchestra Partners Principal and Co-Founder Hunter Renfroe speaking at the Powell Steam Plant announcement. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

“By partnering with a reputable national brand like Alamo Drafthouse, we will pay homage to the steam plant and create a vibrant entertainment destination that attracts more people downtown.”

Hunter Renfroe, Principal and Co-founder, Orchestra Partners

Headquartered in Austin, Texas, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has been named the “#1 theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and the “Coolest Movie Theater in the World” by Wired.

“We are so excited to have the opportunity to bring Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to the city of Birmingham and to the whole state of Alabama. If you’re not familiar with our brand, we currently operate 37 locations in 13 states throughout the country. Plus, we love historic buildings and we have a real knack for transforming old cool things into super cool new things.”

Chris Drazba, Chief Development Officer, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

A New Theatrical Experience for Birmingham

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A rendering the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in the Powell Steam Plant. (Orchestra Partners)

So, what can Birmingham expect at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema? The business is a unique combination of a movie theater and restaurant, offering first-run movies, independent films, local craft beers, events and a restaurant that prides itself on its extensive, made-from-scratch menu.

“90% of the food we serve is made from scratch. We’re not rolling food out of the freezer and throwing it into the fryer—we cut our own vegetables, we make our own pizza dough, we do all of that fresh. Of course, we’re also known for our drinks. The typical Alamo Drafthouse as at least 32 craft beers on tap, and we offer craft cocktails as well.

In our experience it’s pretty normal for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to become more of a community center than a movie theater. We have a lot of activities for guests to enjoy—we have guests come to Alamo Drafthouse that don’t even watch movies!”

Chris Drazba, Chief Development Officer, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema

Opening in Birmingham in Late 2023

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Birmingham City Councilors Darrell O’Quinn, Hunter Williams, Wardine Alexander and LaTonya Tate spoke at the press conference at the Powell Avenue Steam Plant. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

“Today’s announcement is a highlight and a tangible reminder of what can be accomplished with great collaboration. A huge thanks to Alabama Power, Orchestra Partners and Alamo Drafthouse for the vision to bring this concept to the Birmingham area.

Our mission as City Councilors is to make the City of Birmingham a great place to live, work and play for our residents. That can be recognized with the community connectivity that this project will bring.”

Wardine Alexander, President, Birmingham City Council
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An inside look in the Powell Avenue Steam Plant. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

In addition to the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Orchestra Partners is looking to lease out 36,000 square feet of the Powell Steam Plant.

“We’re looking for really active and dynamic tenants for retail, food and beverage to enhance this entertainment destination that Alamo Drafthouse is bringing to the area. If you are interested, visit our website parksidebham.com/powell and fill out an inquiry form.”

Haley Oliff, Senior Development Associate, Orchestra Partners

According to Orchestra Partners, construction on the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will begin in Sumer 2022 with the goal of opening in Fall 2023.

Excited to learn more about the new tenants coming to the Powell Steam Plant? Follow Bham Now on FacebookInstagramTwitter and LinkedIn and sign up for our FREE newsletter to never miss out on the latest breaking news.

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Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer with Bham Now | Originally from Tennessee, Nathan moved to The Magic City after graduating from Birmingham-Southern College. Nathan is passionate about recognizing Birmingham's history and is thrilled to learn more about the big things planned for The Magic City's future.

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