Behind the scenes with Orchestra Partners, the firm revitalizing Birmingham with exciting developments


Orchestra Partners team at The Frank
Meet the people building a brighter Birmingham. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

In February 2022, Birmingham was thrilled to learn that Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be the anchor tenant at the soon-to-be-redeveloped Powell Avenue Steam Plant. That mixed-use development is one of the latest projects from Orchestra Partners, a local planning and commercial real estate development firm that’s bringing new life to some of your favorite areas of Birmingham, from Five Points South to Morris Avenue. We spoke with several members of the team to see what sets Orchestra Partners apart.

“The transformation of small downtowns.”

The Frank in downtown Birmingham - Orchestra Partners project
2nd Avenue North in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Even if you’re not familiar with Orchestra Partners or their mission, we can guarantee that you’re familiar with their work. Through their projects like the Powell Steam Plant, Mercantile on Morris, The Frank and more, Orchestra Partners have their hands on some of the most exciting developments in The Magic City.

Orchestra Partners is a planning and redevelopment advisory firm. What does that mean, exactly? Rather than solely introducing a plan to a community, the team at Orchestra sticks around to implement it.

Orchestra Partners began in 2015 when co-founders John Boone and Hunter Renfroe returned to Birmingham with a shared goal of preserving the city’s history and breathing new life into it. They do that by working with city officials and stakeholders to see how they can make the biggest impact possible.

“We have a business model that we’re really confident in. It’s something that no other company appears to do. It’s that perfect balance of planning and redevelopment advisory services that starts with a Vision at the municipal level, working with downtown stakeholders to determine what they want to achieve, and ends with Implementation, something that planners don’t offer.”

John Boone, Principal, Orchestra Partners
Mercantile on Morris
The Mercantile on Morris. (Olivia Moses / Bham Now)

You can see how they’re making that impact in downtown Birmingham, already. They focus on pockets of downtown like Morris Avenue, Parkside or Five Points South to bring mixed-use developments that offer entertainment, dining and living options. Plus, they primarily work with existent buildings that are important to Birmingham’s history and redevelop and update them to meet the needs of Birmingham today.

From Mercantile on Morris’s amazing tenants and living options to the exciting updates at the Powell Avenue Steamplant, everything they do centers on the goal of revitalization.

“Our mission is the transformation of small downtowns, helping them enjoy the same renaissance that larger downtowns did in the post-Recession period. There’s no reason why small downtowns can’t host a variety of cool mixed-use projects, trail systems, breweries, etc. given their strong historic building stock and passionate local stakeholders.”

John Boone, Principal, Orchestra Partners

Think you might be a fit for Orchestra Partners’ team? Learn more about their career opportunities here.

The people bringing BIG things to Birmingham

Orchestra Partners team at McFly's
The Orchestra team loves supporting Orchestra projects like McFly’s Bird Shoppe. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

So why does the team at Orchestra Partners care so much about what they do? They live in Birmingham and love it, too.

“When I came across Orchestra, it was the perfect fit because it was a small, growing company, which allowed me to get involved and put my footprint into the beginnings of the work. Also, I was extremely excited about the mission and that they weren’t your typical real estate company. They want to make an impact on the communities in which they work.”

Mary Claire Weeks, Managing Director, Orchestra Partners
Powell Avenue Steamplant
The Powell Avenue Steam Plant in Birmingham’s Parkside, newly-announced home of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Whether they’re finding new ways to introduce fun dining and entertainment tenants to downtown or they’re bringing exciting national tenants to Birmingham, the team is a major part of what makes Birmingham such a great place to live.

“What stands out to me about Birmingham is its respect for its history. It’s great to see this city come back to life not by bulldozing our historic buildings, but instead through revitalization efforts.”

Mary Claire Weeks, Managing Director, Orchestra Partners

What’s next for Orchestra Partners in 2022?

View from The Frank
The view from The Frank. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

We’ve already seen the difference that this firm is making in Birmingham by introducing exciting new businesses, but they’re not stopping here. In 2022 and beyond, they’ll bring their services to other downtowns like Jasper, Alabama.

“Our focus is on smaller downtowns. You probably won’t see us doing planning and redevelopment work in places like Atlanta or Nashville. Those cities don’t need us to grow and to be frank, those metros are already rapidly suburbanizing again. Our partnership with Main Street America is going to expand tremendously in 2022 onward as we start to offer these services to rural and exurban communities outside of the Birmingham area and even outside the state.”

John Boone, Principal, Orchestra Partners

Learn more about Orchestra Partners + their exciting projects by checking out their website, Facebook and Instagram. Plus, see if a career at Orchestra Partners might be right for you.

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Cecilia Wood
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