What’s new in Woodlawn + what’s next for this thriving community


Woodlawn United
Woodlawn Marketplace is a thriving retail incubator in Woodlawn. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Over the past couple of decades, the neighborhood of Woodlawn has seen a renaissance like never before. Buildings that sat vacant are now teeming with new businesses, community initiatives have accomplished transformative wonders and inclusive events have brought the community closer than ever before.

The best part? The future of Woodlawn looks brighter than ever.

Tag along as we examine Woodlawn’s success and what’s next for this thriving community.

The Woodlawn Renaissance

Woodlawn United
D’Trespa has all the stylish gently used vintage and secondhand clothing you could ask for. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

20 years ago, Woodlawn’s commercial district was nearly a ghost town. However, the past two decades have seen a flurry of activity in Woodlawn.

“One of the biggest physical changes in Woodlawn has just been the growth in our commercial district. We have so many new businesses; our residents are connected to the city by the Birmingham Xpress; we have new murals and public art, flowers and landscaping all beautifying our commercial district. In our residential areas, we have new houses and schools like i3 Academy. It’s a renaissance for Woodlawn.”

Jason Avery, President, Woodlawn United

Now, Woodlawn’s commercial district is home to an ever-growing array of exciting new businesses, such as:

  • Ursula Smith Dance Company — This performing arts studio offers education and training for aspiring dancers in The Magic City.
  • PolarisBHM — Founded by Alicia Levels-Moore, this new co-working space has a ton of resources for any organization, from solo entrepreneurs to well-established companies.
  • Nmosa Fabrics — Founded by Theuda Tusajiwe, this boutique offers alterations, custom design, fabrics and more.
Woodlawn United
Polaris BHM is a thriving co-working space in Woodlawn. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Throughout Woodlawn’s renaissance, 55th Place North—a road that runs through the commercial district—has become the unofficial heart of Woodlawn.

“55th Place is becoming the most fashionable street in the whole city of Birmingham! Every day, I see people walking in Woodlawn wearing the most imaginative and creative outfits. I think a lot of that has to do with our tenants along 55th Place.”

Jason Avery, President, Woodlawn United

Many of the tenants along 55th Place North offer exciting clothing and fashion options, including:

  • Club Duquette — This clothing store and lifestyle brand carries a variety of clothing, supplies and good vibes for all.
  • atra capra tattoo collective — A small collective of artists specialize in custom tattoo designs inside this new tattoo shop.
  • The Wood — This vintage clothing boutique and skate shop specializes in vintage threads and is owned by owned by Cameron Williams and Jason Agan.
  • d’Trespa Consignment & Vintage Boutique — With an extensive collection of vintage clothing and accessories, d’Trespa has something for everyone—no matter their style.
  • 55th Place Thrift Store — Inside this thrift store you’ll find a wide array of clothing, houseware, books, DVDs and other donated knick-knacks.
Sidney Bajjalieh of Sammy’s Sandwich Shop in Woodlawn. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Woodlawn’s renaissance isn’t limited to retail. Although Woodlawn has always had award-winning restaurants—such as Sammy’s Sandwich Shop, home to Alabama’s Best Burger—several exciting restaurants, bars and coffee shops have popped up in recent years, such as:

“The businesses that have opened in Woodlawn have bought into our collective vision of seeing our community thrive. It affirms the partnerships that Woodlawn United and Rev Birmingham have created over the last 13 years. Woodlawn is truly open for business!”

Mashonda Taylor, CEO, Woodlawn United
Thrive Wellness Lounge in Woodlawn
Checking out the products inside Thrive Wellness Lounge. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

And that’s not all! Earlier this year, the long-awaited Woodlawn Theatre officially opened along 1st Avenue South next to the Woodlawn Bar & Lounge. Located in the former home of the Woodlawn Cinema Theatre, the new Woodlawn Theatre has a concert & recital theatre with seating for up to 250 patrons. Plus, it’s home to the Mason Music Foundation—an organization offering private music lessons and scholarships to children who need financial assistance.

All thanks to the Woodlawn community

Woodlawn United
Woodlawn residents and visitors love coming to the Woodlawn Marketplace for coffee in the morning. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

Without a doubt, the strongest asset in Woodlawn is its sense of community. Through community events and get-togethers—like the ever-popular Woodlawn Street Market—Woodlawn has grown organically in a way unlike any other neighborhood.

“Woodlawn’s greatest asset is its people. There has always been a strong sense of connectivity to family and history and neighborhood pride. I believe this has allowed Woodlawn to experience this resurgence over the last two decades, where you see the restoration of legacy homes and building of new homes, the establishment of new businesses—the assertion of how Place matters and, more importantly, how a community can lead its restoration if given the right tools and opportunities.”

Mashonda Taylor, CEO, Woodlawn United
Woodlawn United
According to Naughty but Nice Kettle Corn founder and CEO Tanesha Sims-Summers, Woodlawn is “popping!” (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

One example of community is the annual Woodlawn Sunday Dinner. Hosted by Woodlawn United, the Woodlawn Sunday Dinner gives residents of Woodlawn, South Woodlawn, Oak Ridge Park, East Avondale and beyond the opportunity to enjoy food from local chefs, listen to live music and strengthen their bond as a community. Plus, the Woodlawn Sunday Dinner raises funds benefitting the Homeowner Rehabilitation Program, Woodlawn WORx and other programs!

“When I first moved to Woodlawn, people weren’t as connected as they might have been. But now, there is a strong Woodlawn community that truly looks out for each other and has helped Woodlawn become much safer. Every day, you’ll see people out running, taking their dogs out for a walk, pushing their babies around in strollers and just being in the community.”

Jason Avery, President, Woodlawn United

So what’s next for Woodlawn?

Woodlawn United
Part of the team at Woodlawn Marketplace. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

“I hope that Woodlawn continues to evolve and undeniably is a community of opportunity. Woodlawn will be the blueprint for other communities in our city and state and will continue to center community members to lead.”

Mashonda Taylor, CEO, Woodlawn United

With a growing force of committed residents, business owners, volunteers and more, it’s an exciting time to be in Woodlawn.

“Personally, I’m super excited to see what Woodlawn does next. We’ve gone through a lot of changes, but I still think that big thing has yet to come. I think we’re going to see Woodlawn continue to evolve into a well-defined region of entrepreneurs, thinkers and creatives all seamlessly woven into this growing community of Black and Latino culture. With the way things are going, I could see Woodlawn become the most diverse neighborhood in Birmingham.”

Jason Avery, President, Woodlawn United

To learn more about Woodlawn and see how you can become part of this exciting neighborhood, visit the Woodlawn United website and be sure to follow them on Instagram + Facebook for the latest updates. 

Sponsored by:

Nathan Watson
Nathan Watson

Senior Content Producer at Bham Now

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