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Everything posted by Dystopos

  1. railroadpark.org has added a construction webcam: http://www.railroadpark.org/webcam.html
  2. The New York Times indicates that the diner will be part of a planned entertainment district near the Talladega Superspeedway. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/08/nyregion/08diners.html (login req'd) More background here: http://www.bhamwiki.com/w/Cheyenne_Diner
  3. Some miscellaneous updates: 2600 Highland (Condos) are nearly complete with landscaping done. The recently-completed Capri condominiums nearby have been purchased from bankruptcy and are being marketed again. A major expansion of BPA Parking Deck #3 broke ground last week downtown, which is a critical component of the planned Marriott Renaissance Hotel in the Regions Plaza Building. Major construction projects at UAB & St Vincents Hospitals are proceeding, and the City Council approved $20 million in tax abatements to jump-start a major expansion at Children's Hospital. Announcements are expected soon in the recruitment of Solvay Pharmaceuticals (Birmingham) and Volkswagen (north Alabama) I haven't heard any recent news from Leer Corp (Leer Tower), Melaver (Fed. Reserve), Corp. Realty Dev. (Standard Midtown & Block 121), Performa (The Forge), Michael Roberts (A. G. Gaston Motel), Iron City (Restoration Edgewood) or 29Seven LLC (29 Seven)
  4. I tried. I overlaid the Phase I renderings over the aerial view of Birmingham as best I could in Google Earth. have no idea if I got the scale right, and may even have messed up the proportions. Here's a partial screenshot: And here's a link to what it looks like on Google Maps (looks like the rotated images didn't make the trip...) Note: Later phases would continue the concept, presumably in much narrower strips, parallel to the railroad tracks as far as Titusville and Sloss Furnaces. Further linear additions may also continue the pathway to connect to other greenways in eastern and western Birmingham. For background on the project, see Bhamwiki:Railroad Park
  5. Today's 1960s eyesore is tomorrow's landmark of expressive modernism. Anyway. Here's a write-up I did on the hotel's history: Bhamwiki:Parliament House
  6. When the contract with Performa was announced the press here solicited comments from other metros where Performa had been contracted as a developer. The reports were mixed (some very unhappy at lack of performance and some happy overall despite certain failings). I don't believe I heard much criticism from anywhere else until recently, when the BJCC board expressed some frustration at the apparent lack of progress in securing tenants. It is not unusual for a developer to promise more than can be immediately delivered. It is equally common for the developer to be criticized for it. cf: http://bwcitypaper.com/1editorialbody.lass...ken.subpub=#123
  7. There's already a good one downtown: http://www.bodyandsoul-fitness.com/ Other downtown fitness centers are located at the YMCA, UAB, "Curves" on 4th Av. S, and Lakeview Fitness. There might be others associated with hotels or condos, as well.
  8. That's the whole district, looking east from the Aloft hotel to the 2nd proposed hotel.
  9. HKW Associates shared updated plans with the BJCC Board this afternoon. Two 130-150 room hotels were shown, including one "Aloft" hotel at 24th Street and another hotel adjacent to the SEC HQ on 22nd Street. Cato Walker, Senior VP of Performa told the Board he had signed agreements with several restaurant, club and retail operators and is close to inking a deal with Ruben Studdard for a nightclub. Performa hopes to break ground on the project in October. (I have not seen the renderings, this is from the Birmingham News breaking news section)
  10. Noticed that there's a contractor's sign hanging at the Avondale Bricks office condo project (41st St & 2nd Av S in Avondale). Looks like they're starting by demolishing the (badly damaged) roof assembly. Anyone know anything about the construction schedule for the hotel at the former Royal Inn (20th St S), the Corp. Realty Dev. project at 20th St & 1st Av S or the Melaver project at the former Fed. Reserve Branch?
  11. Investors tour sites eyed for dome, entertainment district and hotels Posted by Birmingham News Staff June 25, 2007 12:30 PM A team of investors invited by Birmingham consultant Carol Forge Hatcher today toured five sites in the city being considered for a $1 billion development that would include a domed stadium, entertainment district and hotels. State Rep. John Rogers, D-Birmingham, organized the tours and said he has been in talks with the group for months since funding has stalled on a plan to build a 40,000-seat arena adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Rogers is to gather at a 12:30 p.m. luncheon today at the Embassy Suites in Homewood with the investors to hear more details. A press conference providing additional information is slated for 3 p.m. at the hotel, Hatcher said in a press release. "ForgeCo. investors are still very much interested in the Birmingham project which includes the entertainment district, hotel(s) and the multi-purpose facility (dome)," Hatcher said in the release. Hatcher gained attention in March when she went before the Birmingham City Council, saying she had gathered a group of investors willing to put up $1 billion in private money to build a dome, hotel and entertainment district at the BJCC. She withdrew her proposal after the BJCC and council pressed for information on who would finance the project. Hatcher said an "exploratory team" arrived in Birmingham Sunday night for the tours. Rogers said it met with property owners and got details on the sites being considered this morning. The sites are Legion Field; Birmingham Fair Grounds, including Fair Park Arena; land adjacent to Birmingham Race Course on John Rogers Drive in eastern Birmingham; USX property in Ensley; and land just off Daniel Payne Drive in western Birmingham. "The BJCC property hasn't been taken off the table, but right now they have too many problems in doing that proposal due to holdups in funding from Jefferson County," Rogers said. He said the group wants to do a dome, three hotels and entertainment district even though the developer of Beale Street in Memphis has signed a contract to do an entertainment district adjacent to the BJCC and a proposed 40,000-seat arena planned near the complex. "Forty thousand seats is too small. This group is willing to put $1 billion to $1.5 billion in private money to do this project," Rogers said.
  12. Part of an airports capacity to serve international flights is a passport control, visa and customs facility. I know they're planning on expanding customs facilities at BHM for cargo, but establishing a passport control seems much less likely in the near term. Maybe changes in passport technology and/or global trade agreements will make that more feasible.
  13. Of the ones you mention, I think the RR Reservation Park has the most obvious momentum -- not that its completely out of the woods. The Corporate Realty development on 20th St S is projected in two phases. The first of those would seem to be moving forward, as does the first phase of Melaver's two-phase Fed Reserve project. The second phase of each of those involves office space, for which I am not confident of the demand - we'll just have to see. The other park projects appear to be in jeopardy, given the attitude of the new County Commission and Congress' decision to wipe the slate clean of pork projects (for the time being). I continue to be surprised by the fact that the Cabana/Leer Tower project seems to still have legs. I presume that the Brown-Marx proposal has been completely abandoned, though.
  14. It may be that their own market research shows that a multi-purpose facility is a key component of the business they need to attract and that, from their perspective, the opposition to "a dome" is ignorant and over-simplified. If that were the case they would hope that by updating and refining their presentation, that people capable of seeing past the "four letter word" might be capable of weighing the benefits of the proposal. The unfortunate reality is that "dome" is a four letter word and its so much easier to leverage ignorance than to re-frame the issue. The worst thing that could happen is that they finally get what they need to move ahead, but what they build is so compromised (by increased construction costs, cut budgets, and misunderstanding about the purposes for which it was constructed) that it's obsolete before it opens and becomes an even bigger sore spot. The renderings I've seen make me think this scenario isn't completely unlikely. At this point, I think all they can do is scrap whatever plans they have and come up with a plan that (1) accommodates the boldest, biggest most optimistic vision for the next 30-50 years (2) constructs everything that is politically feasible toward the implementation of that plan and (3) insures that what can get built positions the BJCC to continue competing for at least half of the convention market, and (4) prepares itself for the possibility of adding in the "missing pieces" without having to completely reconfigure. I think the plan should include a major overhaul of the coliseum to make it useful for large-scale meetings, NCAA regional finals, big concerts and whatever else is out there. This overhaul needs to brighten the whole experience of going to the BJCC and make the whole center more inviting. It could also include a major architectural statement a la the Memphis Pyramid or LA's Disney Concert Hall.
  15. There's not much to know. Take the Alice Furnace/Trinity Steel site and Sloss Furnaces along with its parking area, then connect them along the RR reservation, potentially including the parking lots between the tracks and Powell Ave, then drop in the vacant blocks between 14th and 18th which constitute Phase I. That's the plan. Some of it depends on acquiring private property. The entire proposed park is shown in the City Center Master Plan. The BhamWiki article details the history of the concept. The project was featured in last Saturday's Birmingham News. For more images, go to the Tom Leader Studio site http://www.tomleader.com/, then click on "Launch Site", then click on "Projects --> Current", then on "Birmingham Railroad Reservation Park"
  16. The proposed lake is only about half city block. There are drawings of the conceptual design for the first phase at BhamWiki:Railroad Reservation Park. I know that the overall plan extends from Titusville to Sloss, but the RR reservation follows an east-west corridor between Powell Ave to the south and Morris Avenue to the north. The former Terminal Building was at 5th Avenue north under the present Red Mountain Expressway - so if the park were to include that site (which I don't think has ever been shown) it would have to extend a leg north for five blocks around 26th Street. A view of the entire proposed park, can be found in the City Center Master Plan update. (See p. 31) (48.5 MB PDF).
  17. Are you sure? Yes, the RR Park will extend along the Railroad Reservation, but the Terminal Station was on 5th Avenue North, 6 blocks away.
  18. The prospect of a October 2006 groundbreaking doesn't seem to jibe with the "Project Status Report" that the Mayor's office delivered Tuesday. The report indicates that, as of August 2006 we were still anticipating the following tasks toward completion of Phase I: Pre Design (Fall 2006), Schematic Design (late 2006-early 2007), Design Development (through mid 2007), Construction Documents (2nd half 2007) with a Bid awarded around New Years 2008. The schedule shows about a year for construction, with Phase 1 Complete sometime around January 2009. The chart also shows a Property Acquisition Phase running through the 1st quarter of 2007 (I guess this might involve imminent domain for those 2 warehouses in the middle of the site) and Demolition running up until Fall 2007. A green bar showing "Capital Fund Raising Campaign" extends through 2007 as well. (Even though $12.5 million has been committed in public funds already)
  19. This well-composed urban plaza is framed by the New Birmingham News building and their old headquarters built in 1917, across the street. The News plans to demolish the 1917 structure for surface parking. The News goes before Birmingham's Design Review Committee on September 13 to seek their approval for their demolition permit. Regardless of the committee's decision, I fear that the only way to save the building is for the owner to change their plans. So if you know anybody who would like to make an offer on a beautiful historic building with lots of natural light, let the publisher know ASAP.
  20. The sculpture is the work of John Paul Rietta. It was orange in color when it was first installed.
  21. There's a vinyl sign on the "Liv on 5th" building saying it will be open Sunday from 2-4. I'm not sure how inviting it could look without any windows.
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