Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

kayman

Any updates on new skyscraper proposals?

29 posts in this topic

After reading the John Archibald's column in Sunday's Birmingham News, it had me thinking when is Birmingham ever going to get another skyscraper. I mean within 5 years nearly all of the current buildings are going to be finished being revitalized and most likely fully occupied with condos or businesses. I honestly believe the Concord Center and One Federal Place doesn't count because you can't see them from a distance.

I know in the past you guys had mentioned a possible 45-story building built downtown, but I haven't heard anything about since. Mobile will have the RSA Tower which is going to be the tallest in the state. However, just seems not right that Mobile will have the tallest building in the state since its only the 3rd largest city and metro area now. :blush: Is there any new word on the developments on those proposed buildings?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Life isn't always fair.

I wish there were some more progressive thinking minds in Birmingham to get some MAJOR things done, but it doesn't seem like there are right now. I'm not saying the other projects aren't big but it would definetly be nice to see another 30+ skyscraper or two going up in the center city area. I don't know, maybe we'll hear something in the next year or so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Birmingham's already got more density than alot of cities and is building even more in the near future. Probably a dozen midrises under construction or approved for the downtown area. I too would love to see a 30+ story tower in Birmingham in the near future, but we're not stagnant. Other cities around the South may be led to believe that, but they're just misinformed. Alot is going on downtown... more than has been in a LONG time. Got to be pretty pleased with what's already going on, but there's alot of untapped potential too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea, Birmingham is much more dense than a lot of Southern cities. Most of them are just really thin. I bet that after the Regions-Amsouth merger is complete, Regions'll want to build a new taller skyscraper in the city center. They've already talked about renovating the Amsouth Tower in Huntsville after the merger is complete, so, just wait, and we'll see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From what I know from some real estate guys there in Bham the office market is completely dead there, so no office towers will happen any time soon. Occupancy is way too low, and the uncertainty with the banks only creates more questions.

The only hope would be a residential condo tower, but I would think that would be slow to happen as well. There are a lot of condos that need to be filled that are in process already. So, I don't see the skyline changing anytime soon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't see any new office towers in Birmingham's near future either; especially considering the AmSouth/Regions merger. Considering the amount of space between them that they occupy downtown, some of that space will almost definitely come on the market once the merger is completed.

And with condo sales slowing (I know, I'm in real estate), I wouldn't count on seeing any new construction condo units again soon either. I have my doubts as to whether all of the current new construction sites will even make it (The Standard and 2600 Highland among others).

I would look for UAB to eventually start affecting the midtown skyline as they build-out as far as they can and start looking vertical. UAB, as you all probably agree, can only buy up so much land before they become locked into the area they are. At that point, all they have to do is start going up with classroom/instruction buildings, dorms, etc. They want to expand the student body to the point that it rivals UA and AU which ultimately will require a lot more space than they have.

And another point that I think personally is that Hoover (either in the Galleria area or Summit area) will actually get the next significant office project. I think we'll see the "perimeter" area start to grow as so many people move in those directions. Just my opinion.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, unfortunately Birmingham has suffered a lot lately in the office market. However, we still have a higher CBD office density than most Southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, unfortunately Birmingham has been suffer a lot lately in the office market. However, we still have a higher CBD office density than most Southern cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Nashville.

Sorry, you have understand, I'm only 17, CBD??????

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


CBD = Central Business District.

I thought Birmingham's office market was doing well. Occupancy rates last time I checked were in the low 90s. Maybe that was the whole metro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would guess that is occupancy for the whole area. I have heard that the Lakeshore area is doing very well, and hence the new office building going up at Brookwood. However, downtown was perhaps somewhere around 80%. As a general rule, I think I heard that sustained real occupancy around 90% triggers new development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CBD = Central Business District.

I thought Birmingham's office market was doing well. Occupancy rates last time I checked were in the low 90s. Maybe that was the whole metro.

Thanx

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't see any new office towers in Birmingham's near future either; especially considering the AmSouth/Regions merger. Considering the amount of space between them that they occupy downtown, some of that space will almost definitely come on the market once the merger is completed.

And with condo sales slowing (I know, I'm in real estate), I wouldn't count on seeing any new construction condo units again soon either. I have my doubts as to whether all of the current new construction sites will even make it (The Standard and 2600 Highland among others).

I would look for UAB to eventually start affecting the midtown skyline as they build-out as far as they can and start looking vertical. UAB, as you all probably agree, can only buy up so much land before they become locked into the area they are. At that point, all they have to do is start going up with classroom/instruction buildings, dorms, etc. They want to expand the student body to the point that it rivals UA and AU which ultimately will require a lot more space than they have.

And another point that I think personally is that Hoover (either in the Galleria area or Summit area) will actually get the next significant office project. I think we'll see the "perimeter" area start to grow as so many people move in those directions. Just my opinion.

Anyway, that's my two cents.

I don't know about that. According to the Birmingham Association of Realtors, the condo sales are still up in Birmingham compared to that nationally from this time last year.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know about that. According to the Birmingham Association of Realtors, the condo sales are still up in Birmingham compared to that nationally from this time last year.

Yea, Birmingham News said that sales have continued to climb up. Show no signs of slowing down. Here's they link.

Greater Birmingham Home Sales

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea, Birmingham News said that sales have continued to climb up. Show no signs of slowing down. Here's they link.

Greater Birmingham Home Sales

Being in the real estate business myself, I can tell you that things have slowed a bit but not quite as much as they have nationwide. Sales are still up over last year yes, but they aren't up at such a fast pace as they were prior to last year. They are increasing at a slower pace (if that makes sense).

As for the condo markets, quite honestly, the condo market is quickly becoming flooded in Birmingham. That's very obvious with several of the high profile properties that have yet to begin construction or have been canceled. The Standard Midtown is indefinitely on hold at this point and may not be back in the same form as it was previously. 2600 Highland has been sitting at a stand still pace for almost a year now that the lot was cleared. Bristol Southside, almost complete and move-in ready, still can't sell out their last 10 or so units.

And with the extreme increase in construction prices, several of the more recently announced projects are probably going to meet similar fates as The Standard.

When people really start considering that you can easily spend $150,000 to $200,000 on a 1 BR Condo in Downtown/Southside right now, they start comparing to places like Crestwood which is only 5 minutes away and see they can buy a 2 or 3 BR house for about the same price. I know there is a trade off with no maintenance and then upkeep of a home but still, you're getting two or three times the space as well.

I speak from experience, I have a unit at Bristol contracted and it's 1 BR with 800 Sq. Ft. I could go to Crestwood right now and get a 2 BR Bungalow that's twice the size for the same price. And with Crestwood, I wouldn't have an almost $200 dollar a month Association Fee.

Just my perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

rtkenmore (or others familiar with Birmingham-area real estate development), do you have any opinions

of Birmingham developers Stonegate Realty (has plans for Northport's largest downtown project) and

Marlin Bisso (reportedly plans Tuscaloosa's largest downtown project, but delisted his web site last month) ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I'm in agreement with the basic prognosis that we won't see a major skyline change in the next 10-15 years. (Barring a political coup that allows the BJCC expansion to move forward)

Regarding the condo market, 2600 Highland has announced that construction will resume on Wednesday (the 21st). I'll let you know if I actually see it on site. I'd be very surprised if the Standard (perhaps reduced in scale) didn't re-launch as soon as the RR Park is visibly underway. The project I have the least faith in is the Cabana/Leer Tower. With City Federal well underway and Brown-Marx getting started (which could be at a much lower price point) it seems like Leer has quickly become redundant. Plus there's not a whole lot of draw to that edge of town. (Unlike Highland Ave/Caldwell Park and UAB/Caldwell Park).

Where I differ is in thinking that no new skyscrapers is necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather see more small businesses filling all the existing vacant space than for a big curtain-walled tower to suck tenants out of other buildings. If a new corporation wants to build a sparking HQ downtown, that's great - but to build a 40+story tower on spec would be both foolish and damaging to the city (in my opinion).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in agreement with the basic prognosis that we won't see a major skyline change in the next 10-15 years. (Barring a political coup that allows the BJCC expansion to move forward)

Regarding the condo market, 2600 Highland has announced that construction will resume on Wednesday (the 21st). I'll let you know if I actually see it on site. I'd be very surprised if the Standard (perhaps reduced in scale) didn't re-launch as soon as the RR Park is visibly underway. The project I have the least faith in is the Cabana/Leer Tower. With City Federal well underway and Brown-Marx getting started (which could be at a much lower price point) it seems like Leer has quickly become redundant. Plus there's not a whole lot of draw to that edge of town. (Unlike Highland Ave/Caldwell Park and UAB/Caldwell Park).

Where I differ is in thinking that no new skyscrapers is necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather see more small businesses filling all the existing vacant space than for a big curtain-walled tower to suck tenants out of other buildings. If a new corporation wants to build a sparking HQ downtown, that's great - but to build a 40+story tower on spec would be both foolish and damaging to the city (in my opinion).

I can see these valid points. I wonder though why we are seeing a large number of mid and high rise

buildings being built throughout the south. Maybe it just seems that way. I tend to believe current leadership,

dome confusion, and perceived lack of cooperation by the city has "scared" off possible developments.

On the plus side I think BHM is past the low point and on the upswing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can see these valid points. I wonder though why we are seeing a large number of mid and high rise

buildings being built throughout the south. Maybe it just seems that way. I tend to believe current leadership,

dome confusion, and perceived lack of cooperation by the city has "scared" off possible developments.

On the plus side I think BHM is past the low point and on the upswing.

Birmingham is certainly on an upswing, UAB as well as the banks continue to climb higher and higher in ranks. Soon, people will actually start to accosiate the city name Birmingham with the US maybe instead of England. It'd be nice not to always put ",AL" at the end of every Birmingham to be sure to get what I need.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding the condo market, 2600 Highland has announced that construction will resume on Wednesday (the 21st). I'll let you know if I actually see it on site.

A job trailer has been set up at the site. Looks like they're back underway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm in agreement with the basic prognosis that we won't see a major skyline change in the next 10-15 years. (Barring a political coup that allows the BJCC expansion to move forward)

Regarding the condo market, 2600 Highland has announced that construction will resume on Wednesday (the 21st). I'll let you know if I actually see it on site. I'd be very surprised if the Standard (perhaps reduced in scale) didn't re-launch as soon as the RR Park is visibly underway. The project I have the least faith in is the Cabana/Leer Tower. With City Federal well underway and Brown-Marx getting started (which could be at a much lower price point) it seems like Leer has quickly become redundant. Plus there's not a whole lot of draw to that edge of town. (Unlike Highland Ave/Caldwell Park and UAB/Caldwell Park).

Where I differ is in thinking that no new skyscrapers is necessarily a bad thing. I'd rather see more small businesses filling all the existing vacant space than for a big curtain-walled tower to suck tenants out of other buildings. If a new corporation wants to build a sparking HQ downtown, that's great - but to build a 40+story tower on spec would be both foolish and damaging to the city (in my opinion).

I agree....I believe that one of the beauties of the HAM is the density. I too would rather see vacant buildings rehabed...and samll vacant lots filled with new low-mid rise buildings before we see a spec tower.

I think a good case study is Nashville....they are going tower crazy...many of which will never be built....but they have a huge issue with a massive amount of surface parking in the downtown. It will be interesting to see how much all of their towers will change life on the street when they still suffer from so many gaps in development.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If a new corporation wants to build a sparking HQ downtown, that's great - but to build a 40+story tower on spec would be both foolish and damaging to the city (in my opinion).

And begs the question of who would build it. Aren't virtually *all* towers built with a major tenant pre-committed? Who would that tenant be that needs that kind of square footage? I agree, just don't see this happening anytime soon. UAB will likely build out their footprint and eventually include more of a vertical component in midtown, and over time maybe some midrise condo development.

But, thinking for a second - would any new tower be any kind of masterpiece? Chances are good it woudn't. As much as I would hope for a Johnson, Pelli or Pei masterwork it would be some mildly inoffensive bankish type to go up.

Birmingham's better bet skyline wise in my opinion would be to push for a signature structure, like Dallas' Reunion Tower, Las Vegas' Stratosphere or more grandly Paris' Eiffel Tower, in conjunction with the Railroad Reservation Park. No tenants, no presales, no new blocks of office space where it's not justified - think tourist attraction with immediate eye recognition rather than workplace. Only issue with that really is that Vulcan is already an excellent brand for the city, not to mention observation deck, etc. it would have be something other than another observation deck with an overpriced revolving restaurant. Just my thoughts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And begs the question of who would build it. Aren't virtually *all* towers built with a major tenant pre-committed? Who would that tenant be that needs that kind of square footage? I agree, just don't see this happening anytime soon. UAB will likely build out their footprint and eventually include more of a vertical component in midtown, and over time maybe some midrise condo development.

But, thinking for a second - would any new tower be any kind of masterpiece? Chances are good it woudn't. As much as I would hope for a Johnson, Pelli or Pei masterwork it would be some mildly inoffensive bankish type to go up.

Birmingham's better bet skyline wise in my opinion would be to push for a signature structure, like Dallas' Reunion Tower, Las Vegas' Stratosphere or more grandly Paris' Eiffel Tower, in conjunction with the Railroad Reservation Park. No tenants, no presales, no new blocks of office space where it's not justified - think tourist attraction with immediate eye recognition rather than workplace. Only issue with that really is that Vulcan is already an excellent brand for the city, not to mention observation deck, etc. it would have be something other than another observation deck with an overpriced revolving restaurant. Just my thoughts.

Yea, to build a "signature tower" like that would bring business at Vulcan way down, which is something that most, if not all, of the citizens of Alabama don't want to happen. But you never know, they could do something together, like combine a trip to Vulcan Park, then a trip to the McWane Center, with a final dinner at the "Signature Tower" for some bottom line price. That would bring quite a bit of tourism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea, to build a "signature tower" like that would bring business at Vulcan way down, which is something that most, if not all, of the citizens of Alabama don't want to happen. But you never know, they could do something together, like combine a trip to Vulcan Park, then a trip to the McWane Center, with a final dinner at the "Signature Tower" for some bottom line price. That would bring quite a bit of tourism.

Well generally you want to soak the tourists while they think they're getting a bottom line price. :-)

But, having brought it up, now I'm having trouble imagining what such a tower could do better than what's available already. Form follows function... trying to fit the function into the form you're set on can often backfire. And in Birmingham, there's precious few reasons for a large freestanding tower without office space, all those functions can be carried out on Red Mountain: Vulcan's observation deck, dining with views, radio transmitters, etc. Birmingham doesn't need the office space downtown. A big radio mast like the CN Tower is both unnecessary and would go on the mountain. A Space Needle or Sunsphere needs a popular World's Fair - and consider the cautionary example of Florence's Renaissance Tower. If Alabama legalized casino gambling I suppose there might be some demand for a Stratosphere-type development but even there the tower is not the casino.

Absent some sort of Red Mountain ridgetop development restrictions, I can't see a reason to build my own tower as it turns out. :-) Birmingham may have to wait for the market to tighten enough to build up. It's not such a terrible thing though - it already compares pretty well with similar-sized cities on the interstate-driving-through test, and plenty of hot cities aren't skyline dependent.

In terms of the branding, Vulcan is Birmingham's Sunsphere, Space Needle, Empire State Building, etc. I suppose. Or should be anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well generally you want to soak the tourists while they think they're getting a bottom line price. :-)

But, having brought it up, now I'm having trouble imagining what such a tower could do better than what's available already. Form follows function... trying to fit the function into the form you're set on can often backfire. And in Birmingham, there's precious few reasons for a large freestanding tower without office space, all those functions can be carried out on Red Mountain: Vulcan's observation deck, dining with views, radio transmitters, etc. Birmingham doesn't need the office space downtown. A big radio mast like the CN Tower is both unnecessary and would go on the mountain. A Space Needle or Sunsphere needs a popular World's Fair - and consider the cautionary example of Florence's Renaissance Tower. If Alabama legalized casino gambling I suppose there might be some demand for a Stratosphere-type development but even there the tower is not the casino.

Absent some sort of Red Mountain ridgetop development restrictions, I can't see a reason to build my own tower as it turns out. :-) Birmingham may have to wait for the market to tighten enough to build up. It's not such a terrible thing though - it already compares pretty well with similar-sized cities on the interstate-driving-through test, and plenty of hot cities aren't skyline dependent.

In terms of the branding, Vulcan is Birmingham's Sunsphere, Space Needle, Empire State Building, etc. I suppose. Or should be anyway.

Yea, Red Mountain IS currently B'ham's signature tower.

Once the condo market gets going more, there'll be less and less room for office space to be built at current height. We all know for certain that Birmingham's office industry is going to go up, no matter which way you put it. UAB's GOTTA have more space in the future, if Regions does well after the merger they will too need more office space within about a decade or two and they'll expand with the market. I don't know of any other companies that are going to be expanding rapidly, cause I don't live in BHM. But, the market will go up, I think we just need to hold off on building these low rises. Let's wait for all buildings to fill up considerably. Cause after you do that, people look around and say, wow, we don't have much room left to use, let's build UP. Then comes your signature tower. I think at the moment, companies are too worried about expanding their office space quickly, which is resulting in a lower skyline. Instead of waiting until they fill the space they have, they go ahead and build a low rise for a little extra room.

I think that Birmingham would develope it's own signature tower without pressure from the city or its residents to create one. As long as companies abide by something that I put in the paragraph above, it should work out.

The bad thing about Vulcan is, you can only get a good view of it from 280 N, and the base of the mountain, not many outsiders know about it, cause you can't see it until you're pretty close.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just wanted to add my $.02 since the Ham is my former Home(and will always be in my heart, no matter where I lay my head). I really think what the Center City needs is not a new building, but possibly another group to attract business to the Downtown. It is very apparent that B'ham is back on the move, but most of its development is still focused on the burbs (ie Hoover, 280, Trussville, etc). There is sooooooooooo much potential in Downtown, but it is not marketed right IMO. Birmingham has so much to be proud of. I have lived in many cities (Philly, ATL, and presently Charlotte) and I still believe that where B'ham shines is in its older architecture and grided street system. This type of density is rare in the South. There are only a handful of cities south of the Mason-Dixon line that can brag about such a densly grided Downtown. Those cities include the likes of New Orleans and Charleston (both cities not noted for verticle structures I might add). ATL, CLT, and others tend to have a nice verticle skyline and shiny towers, but there is a lot to be desired in the area of true density and grit. (well ATL has a bit in certain areas. :blush: ).

The Ham should NEVER be ashamed of its roots. Being on the top of the heap as cities go, is not defined by having the tallest, shiniest skraper, but rather by the streetscapes and people that make a city unique. The people and places around B'Ham are awesome. The topography is awesome. The area in Southside and Highland are awesome. Red Mountain is Awesome. The skyline ,although not verticle as I would like, is still awesome (especially from Red Mountain).

I have had some of the best days of my life (doing things I would rather not admit too on UP :lol: ) on top of Red Mountain overlooking the thousands of twinkling lights.

BIRMINGHAM IS THE MAGIC CITY, REMEMBER...

Let's get^^^ that^^^ into our focus and get a group that can revamp the efforts to revitalize our historic centers and let's put feet in the street. That, and that alone, should be what the focus is. I think we need to better emphasize what B'ham does have, and focus less on what it doesn't. Before you know it the focus on the positives will creat a positive feedback loop, that will bring with it more businesses back to our unbelievable Downtown.

One other thing that I want to say is that B'Ham has one of the BEST music scenes in the country. I am a musician and have played many venues around the city back in the day. They do not build places like the Nick, they are born out of the masses that spur their influence.

NO DEVELOPER CAN BRING MAGIC TO A CITY, IT HAS TO BE BORN BY THE PEOPLE !

Being in CLT these last eight years, has allowed me to see first hand that building towers is not what it is allabout, it is about building communities first, then and only then, can we get what we all want. :)

ROLL TIDE !

A2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.