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monsoon

Birminham loses Corporate HQ to Charlotte

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The deal eliminated Birmingham's status as a financial center.    A status that took decades to develop during the city's transformation from a mining and steelmaking stronghold.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

wow, someone's got an axe to grind with Birmingham to ignore that three of the top 50 largest banks are still headquartered in the city.

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LOL, what axe would I have to grind against a small city in Alabama.  And nothing I said was untrue.  You don't do your city justice by continuing to attack other forumers.

In addition, in terms of being financial center, the top 5 banks in the country control 95%  of the assets.  The other 11,000 banks in the country split up the remaining.  The rest don't really matter that much in terms of defining what is and what isn't a financial center.  I am sure the the First National bank of Bugtussle is admired by its citizens also.  Nothing wrong with that, but a financial center it is not.

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Bham a "small city"?? Sure, compared to Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, and Miami but not compared to the other cities represented on the board. I don't consider a metro area of just under 1.1 million to be "small".

As for banks, Southtrust is a big loss but the other 3 banks you seem to scoff at are all among the Top 50 banks in the country. They represent thousands of jobs in the city. The Regions Bank acquisition of Union Planters will help offset some of the Southtrust departure.

Bham has the following bank headquarters and assets:

Regions Bank - 80 Billion in assets

AmSouth Bank - 47 Billion in assets

Compass - 27 Billion in assets.

Southtrust by comparison had about 52 Billion in assets. None of these even touch the megabanks but they are by no means anything to sneeze at.

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Birmingham's 2000 population was 242,820 which is a loss of close to 9% since 1990 and continues to lose at 1%/year. In my book that is a small city with serious problems. This is unlike most of the cities represented here which are growing in leaps and bounds.

It would not appear that Birmingham is going to be a larger city anytime soon since it has not gained population since the 1950s.

Birmingham's Population

  • 1950 - 326,037

  • 1960 - 340,887 +4.6%

  • 1970 - 300,910 -11.7%

  • 1980 - 284,413 -5.5%

  • 1990 - 265, 968 -6.5%

  • 2000 - 242,820 -8.7%

At this rate, Birmingham will have lost more than 100,000 people in just over 40 years. This is flabberghasting for a SunBelt city.

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The Bham city limits are the only part of the entire Bham metro that is losing population. It's kinda hard too when there are de-annexations at 5,000K and 7,500K a pop chipping away at the city limits. I agree that downtown is stagnant and could be better but the areas losing population are in horrible neighborhoods on the north and west city limits. As a former metro Bham area resident, I'm only concerned about the growth of the downtown area bordered by I-65, I-59, and the Red Mtn. Expressway. That area has actually seen a renewal the last few years. The fact that the city proper is losing people is extremely overrated in looking at a city IMHO. The metro area is steadily growing in a state that has to fight 3 times as hard against negative and heavily exaggerated stereotypes. Bham is just fine IMO and has beautiful urban areas and extremely beautiful suburbs. Who gives a rat's rear end if the extremely small city limit area isn't growing.

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Well I do readily admit that population statistics don't tell the entire story. However I am curious as to what is going on in Birmingham that is causing the loss of people. To an outsider such as myself the area would seem to have all the elements needed for huge growth that we see here in the Carolinas, in Georgia, and of course Florida, but something is preventing that from happening. Any ideas?

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Birmingham is certainly an unfortunate side of the southeast - a city with tremendous population loss & declining economy. But a small city? That is relative of course - but Charlotte would definitely be considered a small city by that standard.

Birmingham is an absolutely beautiful city - but that depends on looking for the best of a city. The downtown is a highly preserved early 1900's commercial district, with some of the southeast's best towers. Additionally there are beautiful streetcar era suburbs with graceful Tudor homes & graceful parks. Basically - Birmingham is definetlely worth a visit, in addition the Vulcan statue is worth seeing.

What is fortunate is that their downtown does seem to be following the national trend of revitilization, two of the towers are being converted to condo (we can partially thank DallasTexan for that).

But otherwise why hasn't Birmingham boomed as the other sunbelt cities? A history lesson would tell us that B'ham was as prominant as Atlanta in the early 1900's & could have been a primary city as Atlanta did. But Birmingham seems to be caught in the recessed Deep South economy that New Orleans is in.

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Beats me metro. I wish I knew the answer to that. I don't think it has anything to do with a "declining economy" as tesh is suggesting. The only aspect in which the city's economy could be considered in decline is in corporate headquarters. The only two blows in that regard were Southtrust (which was strictly business and not an indictment of the Bham economy anymore than the loss of Fleet Boston was to Boston's economy). The only real slap in the face had to do with Caremark's re-location from Bham to Nashville. I don't know the specific reasons behind that. I've heard a theory that HealthSouth's troubles may have had something to do with Caremark's decision. Caremark, formerly known as MedPartners was basically an offshoot of HealthSouth started by the big wigs at HS. It couldn't have been comfortable dealing with the fallout of a company with so many ties to what is now Caremark. Don't know how much that had to do with it, but I've heard that theory. Who knows. Fortunately HealthSouth has remained a fiscally strong company despite the accounting scandal. They are close to putting the whole episode behind them. They have done an amazing job in avoiding bankruptcy. They will join the Fortune 500 again when they are able to release reliable figures. It's hard to tell what situation Saks, Inc. will be in by this time next year. Vulcan Materials and Torchmark are poised to crack the Fortune 500 with a small to medium acquisition or a uptick in revenues. AmSouth is close to rejoining the 500 with a jump of its own. Protective Life is around 700 on the Fortune 1000 so its a sizable company in the city. Bham was recently ranked the #6 metro in the entire country based on the health and diversity of the metro economy trailing only Atlanta and Charlotte in the Southeast coming in just ahead of Nashville. I don't know where this idea of a declining economy comes from.

I digress though. As for the decline in the city's population, I wish I knew so I could pass it on to city leaders. I think the biggest problem is that other than a few relatively small nice neighborhoods (Lakeview, Highland Park) in the southeast part of the city's limits and the south city limits in the Southside area, most of the traditional "neighborhoods" are all west and north of the CBD and are run down ghettos. The very thing that makes the "Over the mountain" areas of Jefferson County so attractive is what severely hurts the city limit population. Once you cross over Red Mtn. you are outside the city limits and in Homewood. You don't have to go far at all to the west before hitting Fairfield and Ensley and so on. The actual Bham "city limits" are very small in area. The only areas with immediate potential IMHO is the area outlined I outlined by the interstates and areas of the valley east and south of that. Growth opportunities in the city are extremely limited unless you start building upwards which is what it would require. Some cities have a much harder time growing their city limits because of the geography and space involved. Even Atlanta struggled with this. They lost city population for years before regaining it by mostly by building upwards which Bham simply hasn't done yet. I suspect room has far more to do with it than anything. Huntsville and Montgomery, for example, have both gained a good bit of city population. In Montgomery's case, however, their metro growth doesn't even begin to approach the all around metro growth Bham has seen. Huntsville is the only exception. They've seen a lot of growth in the city and their suburbs. However, both cities have tremendous amounts of land and space to grow while Bham has probably less than 10% of the undeveloped those 2 cities have. I also think Bham is one of the few large cities in which the very industry it was founded on basically disappeared several years ago. It was the only true industrial city in the South and has the disadvantage of being probably the only Southern city that literally had to completely reinvent itself after 100 years of being the South's only true industrial city. What Bham has had to do economically is practically the equivalent of what Las Vegas would have to do to reinvent their economy if casino gambling was ever outlawed. What would Las Vegas do with it's infrastructure? That's probably an overdramatic example but you get the point. You basically have a lot of steel making infrastructure in Bham and a lot of old industrial friendly housing which isn't exactly attractive. Very little green space throughout the city. In short, it would take a wrecking ball and a ton or demolition to create new neighborhoods in several areas of the city limits to attract people downtown. The more perplexing thing is why is Jefferson County's population stagnant?

New Orleans is in the same boat in regards to their downtown. They have a vibrant, fun downtown with tons of tourist traffic and a lot of residents but they are also extremely confined in regards to available land, especially land that isn't already heavily developed. I think there is a strong correlation between availability of developable land in the city limits and declining city populations.

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I lived in Birmingham several years ago, but I have noticed something about it since I have been gone. I think that Birmingham is not growing because an apparent lack of desire to expand. I remember passing through the heart of downtown (near the railroad tracks) a while back and remember how run down the entire area looked. It was like a failed industrial park running through the middle of downtown. Compare that to the brand new office parks in Hoover and out on 280 and you can see why businesses relocate there. And since the housing situation is the same (most of the nice homes are either to the south "over the mountain", north towards Fultondale/Gardendale, or east towards Trussville), everyone is leaving the Birmingham city limits. Even Legion Field (the only football stadium) is in the middle of a low-income area. And I just noticed that there isn't a "real" parking lot, just a lot of grass all around the stadium. The problem is that with the lack of clear land the city is going to have to let go of many of the older buildings and rebuild from scratch in a more dense manner.

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Fear of Heights - quite an interesting read, thank you for shedding more light! I certainly didn't want to infer that Birmingham was declining, though I must have - my apologies.

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I fear Birmingham is going through the same thing Nashville has in the last decade and a half or so...we used to be a pretty good sized banking center....now all we really have are bank buildings...no banks. Yeah, they have office towers here (BofA, Suntrust, Fifth Third, US Bank, First Tennessee, AmSouth, SouthTrust, etc)...but I miss the time that we had several good sized banks headquartered here (First American, Third National, Commerce Union?...I know we had some others). The only outsider bank that is doing any construction right now is Suntrust (building a 16 story, 400,000 sq ft building behind the Ryman)...and that's only because they lost their name on the big building on 5th and Church...(Fifth Third rented out enough space to take their name off).

I think it used to be a pride thing...building your big office tower downtown in the city where you are HQed, but with no banks left, I don't think you'll ever see another 400 ft skyscraper built by a bank in the city of Nashville...

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Good point nash. I think Bham is in a situation where Region Banks may be the only bank left that might be willing to build a new downtown tower. They are now an $80 billion dollar bank with a main office that is just over half the size of the Southtrust tower where Southtrust was a $52 billion dollar bank when they were bought. With the Regions/Union Planters merger, I would think that Regions would need much more office space and build a nice 550 foot mix use headquarters and residence (perhaps) tower downtown. It would be nice to see.

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Birmingham's 2000 population was  242,820 which is a loss of close to 9% since 1990 and continues to lose at 1%/year.    In my book that is a small city with serious problems.  This is unlike most of the cities represented here which are growing in leaps and bounds. 

It would not appear that Birmingham is going to be a larger city anytime soon since it has not gained population since the 1950s.   

Birmingham's Population

  • 1950 - 326,037

  • 1960 - 340,887  +4.6%

  • 1970 - 300,910  -11.7%

  • 1980 - 284,413  -5.5%

  • 1990 - 265, 968 -6.5%

  • 2000 - 242,820  -8.7%

At this rate, Birmingham will have lost more than 100,000 people in just over 40 years.  This is flabberghasting for a SunBelt city.

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I wonder what the size of Charlotte's city limits were in, say, 1960, and what would the population of Charlotte be today within those same city limits? I say this because I don't believe Birmingham has annexed any land of much significance since 1960,

I fear Birmingham is going through the same thing Nashville has in the last decade and a half or so...we used to be a pretty good sized banking center....now all we really have are bank buildings...no banks. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Nashville's loss pales to what Memphis has lost in the past year alone--the headquarters of two top 50 banks, Union Planters and FNBC, although no one in Memphis seemed to care too much.

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What the heck is up with this surge of bank consolidation. I wonder if this means that some smaller homegrown banks will grow as the years pass. Who knows maybe banks will get so big that they will break them up AT&T style?

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I wonder what the size of Charlotte's city limits were in, say, 1960, and what would the population of Charlotte be today within those same city limits?  I say this because I don't believe Birmingham has annexed any land of much significance since 1960,

Nashville's loss pales to what Memphis has lost in the past year alone--the headquarters of two top 50 banks, Union Planters and FNBC, although no one in Memphis seemed to care too much.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Charlotte has definitely at least doubled its land area through annexation since 1960. Here's a list of Charlotte's annexations since 1979:

1) 14.4 square miles 7/79; (2) 5.52 square miles 12/81; (3) 4.7 square miles 7/84; (4) 6.9 square miles 6/85; (5) 5.1 square miles 6/87; (6) 9.8 square miles 6/89; (7) 16.5 square miles 6/91; (8) 15.1 square miles 6/93; (9) 4.2 square miles 6/95; (10) 22.0 square miles 6/97; (11) 6.06 square miles 6/99; (12) 16.5 square miles 6/01; (13) 9.01 square miles 6/03

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Nashville's loss pales to what Memphis has lost in the past year alone--the headquarters of two top 50 banks, Union Planters and FNBC, although no one in Memphis seemed to care too much.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That's because the loss wasn't that drastic. Yes, we lost a few banks, but at the same time, SunTrust and Regions moved certain operations here. Regions moved their mortgage center from Bham to Memphis. We lost two banks, but many companies are expanding and entering the Memphis market to balance things out. Lest we forget that behemoth that has the most employees in the state of Tennessee...FedEx.

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I wonder what the size of Charlotte's city limits were in, say, 1960, and what would the population of Charlotte be today within those same city limits?  I say this because I don't believe Birmingham has annexed any land of much significance since 1960,

Nashville's loss pales to what Memphis has lost in the past year alone--the headquarters of two top 50 banks, Union Planters and FNBC, although no one in Memphis seemed to care too much.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Well, in regards to numbers, its difficult to directly compare based on city limits because the laws in regards to the areas are different and the sizes change. You can however compare county size as they stay the same. And we have this comparison

Jefferson County Population (1113 sq/miles)

1950 - 558,928

1960 - 634,864 +

1970 - 644,991 +

1980 - 671,324 +

1990 - 651,525 -

2000 - 662,047 +

2003 - 658,141 -

Pop Change/53 years = 99,213

Pop Density = 591/sq mile

Mecklenburg County Population (526 sq/miles)

1950 - 197,052

1960 - 272,111 +

1970 - 354,656 +

1980 - 404,270 +

1990 - 511,433 +

2000 - 695,454 +

2003 - 752,366 +

Pop Change/53 years = 555,314

Pop Density = 1430/sq mile

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Damn, look how big Jefferson County was in the 1950's. Goes to show how long Birmingham has been a mid-major city and why the downtown has such a nice historic core.

I'm guessing that population in the 50's indicated a fair amount of density.

Also shows you how damn small Charlotte was back then.

***********Edited for being a dumbass*********

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I also think B'ham and Jefferson County's unique geography combined with B'ham's complete lack of contiguous land also severely limits the county and especially the city limits ability to grow population wise. Bham has a very small city limit as far as land area is concerned. The northern edge of the Bham city limits more or less follow I-59 while the southern edge is literally in sight a mere mile and a half to Red Mtn. The eastern borders cut off sharply at Irondale and Center Point just 2 or 3 miles to the east along I-59 just past the airport and just past the first exit heading east towards Atlanta just after the I-59/I-20 junction. That is an extremely small land area compared to several other southern city limits. The fringes of the Bham city limits contain some truly horrid neighborhoods which wouldn't grow no matter what state or city they were in. Bham was a true industrial city also so the whole reason the city existed was because of the many factories located in Jones Valley where downtown is located. Several de-annexations and new "cities" have broken away from Bham proper and have essentially cut off the city limits from all other unincorporated areas of Jefferson County. The geography of Bham is basically like trying to have a central core of over 800,000 people in the valley and the immediate surrounding ridges of Chattanooga and expecting it to rapidly grow. It just isn't logistically possible. Available land is the key IMHO. This is why Montgomery of all places has actually gained city population while Bham is not. It certainly doesn't have anything to do with Montgomery having a stronger and more diversified economy or a better quality of life. It has to do with Montgomery having thousands and thousands of flat undeveloped farmland that can be easily annexed into the city limits.

As for Jefferson County, some of the same development issues are factors as well. Again, building homes and major roads throughout the vast majority of Jefferson County involves many geographic and geological obstacles that many Southern cities (including Charlotte for the most part) simply don't have to deal with on an almost constant basis. Almost all road construction in Jeff. Co. involves blasting through limestone ridges instead of simply grading and paving roads over relatively flat land. The ridges typically run southeast to northwest too making it impossible to avoid ridges when building major roads. All these factors along with limited developable land make it much more difficult to build the infrastructure needed to grow the way cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, and Jacksonville are growing. Jefferson County has hundreds and hundreds of undeveloped land in the northern and western half of the county but has no interstate loop to channel growth to areas that have available land for growth. Even if Bham and Jeff. Co. desperately wanted to have double digit % population growth and Bham's economy exploded with new jobs and everyone and their brother suddenly wanted to move there they still couldn't grow fast because of these factors. The Southern half of the county is literally maxed out room wise so there very simply isn't enough room for significant population growth. Until the I-459 loop is completed all the way around the northern side of Jeff. Co. there won't be significant growth in the county IMHO.

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