Who's Your City?, by Richard Florida
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Birmingham, AL: Getting Its Groove Back


There are tremendous transformations happening in Birmingham, and even in the midst of a pending county financial collapse and federal trial against our mayor, most folks around here tend to see these as positives, in that these political collapses represent the last gasp of the deeply entrenched 1950s mentality. So, if you don’t mind, I want to share JUST A FEW of the awesome movements taking place here:

I live in the heart of downtown Birmingham, AL, with my partner of 11 years. Our loft apartment is in a converted 1920s-era department store, in what used to be the retail district.

Two blocks to our north is the financial district, and about four blocks to our south is the new central park- the Rail Road Reservation Park- currently under construction.

A new minor league baseball field has been proposed to be constructed adjacent to this park, and ground broke July 22 on an expansion to the convention complex on the northern edge of the City Center:

While the benefits of these projects will be felt a decade or so from now, more immediate and tangible transformations are underway. At this moment, there are hundreds of apartments and condominiums under construction in the City Center (a.k.a. downtown) adding to the thousands already here, and downtown’s population continues to climb. If 35203 has lost more than 6% of its population since 2000, it would be from HUD housing project declines. Our HOPE VI development called Park Place has proven to be phenomenally successful. Skyscrapers from the 1910s-1930s continue to be converted into housing, too.While Birmingham remains Alabama’s largest (some say only) city, we do continue to have a population drain to the suburbs. With an African-American population of 73%, Birmingham continues to “intimidate” traditional Alabamians as a place to live. However, we are beginning to attract more-and-more college graduates, young professionals and upper-middle class African American families from such places as Atlanta, Chicago, Norfolk, Cleveland and Milwaukee. I know, because I meet them every day. At least within Birmingham, this infusion of new blood is seen as a positive. Here, in the core of the region, there are tremendous forces converging to transmute this place from the inside out. A few of the highlights:

Children’s Hospital has begun a 5 million, LEED-certified expansion project in the Medical District, a sprawling, interconnected complex covering over 80 city blocks, which is only 6 blocks south of the new Railroad Park:

http://www.health.uab.edu/

http://www.hvs.com/StaticContent/Library/NYU2009/Journal/Files/MIR-BirminghamAL.pdf

http://www.uabhealth.org/60918/

http://www.stemcellresearchnews.net/News/UniversityofAlabamaatBirminghamCreatesStemCellInstitute.aspx

http://birmingham.bizjournals.com/birmingham/stories/2009/06/22/story1.html

http://www.solutionsforourfuture.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Alabama&printer_friendly=1

http://nationaljobs.washingtonpost.com/a/all-jobs/list/q-University+of+Alabama+AT+Birmingham+(uab)

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/bhmdw-courtyard-birmingham-downtown-at-uab/

http://www.birminghamal.org/ttd-attractions-detail.asp?ID=0231578

These are only a handful of the projects taking place in Birmingham’s City Center. While 35203 remains the corporate capitol of Alabama, more and more “urbanistas” like my partner & myself are settling in, to make this OUR HOME- OUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

Also, there are groups that I belong to, that are coordinating efforts to rebrand the eastern neighborhoods into centers of creative production. The major groups are:

http://cfc.abc3340.com/videoondemand.cfm?id=45243

http://www.facebook.com/people/Keep-East-Lake-Weird/1229561155

http://www.mainstreetbham.org/pages/opportunities/revitalizing-neighborhoods/east-end-arts.php

http://www.ruffnermountain.org/

http://www.bhamweekly.com/2009/07/09/at-ruffner-mountain-a-poet-reveals-links-between-literature-the-environment/

…AND, within the Greater Birmingham Area:

http://www.imaginebirmingham.org/

http://www.redmountainpark.org/wp/

http://www.foundationbirmingham.org/http://www.cultural-alliance.com/

I thought you might be intrigued with the exciting new directions this “Rust Belt” city is taking!!

Sent by Todd from Birmingham, AL

One Response to “Birmingham, AL: Getting Its Groove Back”

  1. Libby Says:

    You’re the same Todd who posted earlier about getting out of Dodge… has Birmingham then given you more hope over the last few months? You’re sticking around now instead of moving on?

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