7 months ago

Carraway redevelopment could bring new life to northern Birmingham

Carraway Hospital, which had been in the healing business for more than 100 years, could soon bring new life to neighborhoods near downtown Birmingham.

Corporate Realty — a local commercial real estate firm that handles everything from site development and construction to marketing and management — is looking to transform the vacant 50-acre site into a mixed-use development that could include residential, retail, restaurants, and office space, as well as a hotel and entertainment venues.

Brian Wolfe, Corporate Realty chief development officer, said the company is looking to capture the momentum for development around downtown. Last year, a new Top Golf sports complex opened near the Uptown entertainment district. Currently, more than $300 million is going toward expansion of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) and a new downtown stadium.

Doing things right

During a recent interview and tour of the Carraway Hospital site, Wolfe said Corporate Realty sees a lot of value in the surrounding community and its proximity to the downtown revitalization.

The hospital officially closed on Oct. 31, 2008 after 100 years in business.

“We felt like the Carraway site was unique in the sense that it was a large block of property … we could get behind and help to really capitalize on that [downtown] momentum,” he said. “We felt very strongly about coming in and doing it, doing it right and doing it collaboratively with the neighborhoods that surround it.”

The site is located on property that runs along Carraway Boulevard, between 13th Avenue North and 20th Avenue North, bordering several neighborhoods near the northern edge of downtown: Norwood, Druid Hills, Evergreen, and North Birmingham.

The goal is to create a space that not only meets the needs of the neighborhoods “but also creates a destination that the entirety of the city of Birmingham could enjoy,” he said.

To get input from residents, Corporate Realty had two open houses this fall, mailing out more than 1,600 postcards throughout the neighborhoods to build attendance.

“We had great attendance [and got] really great feedback,” Wolfe said. “[There were] a lot of [concerns about] walkability, definitely a need for grocery stores and restaurants, just things that help neighborhoods thrive.”

The Carraway campus will be included in an amended Druid Hills Urban Renewal and Redevelopment Plan that was scheduled to go before the Birmingham Planning Commission on Dec. 5.

Plans for the site include improvements for walkability and services, such as banking, health care, grocery stores, and restaurants, things residents can get to without having to get into their cars, Wolfe said. In addition to making the environment walkable, developers also want to bring in transit options, so people can park at the Carraway site but still have access to the BJCC and other attractions.

Resident support

Area residents have expressed support for the project. “Every neighborhood likes to see reinvestment,” said Norwood Neighborhood Association President Tom Creger. “[In] our neighborhood and Druid Hills, too … up until about two or three years ago, everyone saw their real estate property [value] drop. People had been living in the neighborhood for 30 years, and year after year they saw the value of their property go down. … For most of us, what we own in real estate, in other words, the homes we live in, are the greatest proportion of our wealth.”

Norwood resident James Clark said, “At least something is happening to it, and it’s something positive. It’s an exciting time for Birmingham and the residents [around] Carraway.”

Several residents during the recent campaign for neighborhood officers, Clark said, told him they like that “something [is] happening [on the northern side of town]. Everything’s happened downtown or somewhere else. It’s time that something happens to Carraway.”

‘Takes a village’

The Carraway Hospital site development is a phased-in project that is anticipated to occur over a five- to seven-year period. The first phase involves clearing the site and getting rid of the blight, as well as resetting the parking decks, Wolfe said. He believes the first phase can be complete by 2021, before the World Games come to Birmingham. “We would like to have some of our stuff open for the World Games,” said Wolfe. “Obviously, there will be an influx of people to Birmingham for that period of time, and we want to kind of show off what we’re planning to do. We’ll have the property [cleared] and all the buildings demolished and reset by that time. … We’ll probably have our first phase completed.”

Corporate Realty has made sure to keep residents involved, especially those living in the nearby Norwood, Druid Hills and Evergreen communities.

“We want to encourage reinvestment in these communities and build a consensus with the neighborhood … to make sure it’s walkable, to make sure the things we put back here are helpful for these communities to grow in the future,” Wolfe said. “We feel like building that consensus is very important and, hopefully, will help this entire district around the BJCC be known as a place where people can come and feel safe.”

Community concerns

There have been some concerns, including the type of apartments planned and traffic, Wolfe said.
When some people think of apartments, they believe there will be problems with crime and other activities.

“That’s not what we think of when we think of apartments,” Wolfe said. “We’re talking about very well-managed, very well-maintained apartments that are going to add value to the neighborhood, not take away from the neighborhood.”

To help drive home the point, Wolfe and his team took several residents on a walk-through of the Parkside District to show the type of apartments Corporate Realty plans to build.

As for traffic, Wolfe said some neighborhoods, particularly Druid Hills, will see an impact because of improvements being made in the neighborhood, but the company will be sure to conduct a detailed traffic analysis. He added that because the Carraway site was a hospital with 1,200 employees at its peak, the roads are already built for that type of traffic.

“We recognize that we have an obligation to make sure we measure our project traffic impacts and make sure we’re not affecting the neighborhoods with people trying to get to our development,” Wolfe said. “We’re focusing our commercial traffic on the commercial corridors, primarily Carraway Boulevard.”

Positive experience

Overall, residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the site are excited and expect a positive experience.
“Carraway has been empty for so long, so we’ll be glad to see some development there,” said Druid Hills Neighborhood Association President Amie Evans, adding that Carraway has been such an eyesore that she’s ready for something to better the neighborhoods.

“It should build us up,” she said, “as well as boost the economy.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 hours ago

On this day in Alabama history: Camp McClellan was established in east Alabama

July 18, 1917

Shortly after the United States entered World War I, the War Department established Camp McClellan as a rapid mobilization base and permanent National Guard facility. More than 27,000 men were training at the east Alabama base by the end of 1917. Camp McClellan was originally named in honor of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan, and was renamed Fort McClellan in 1929. During World War II, nearly 500,000 military personnel trained there. After being put in custodial status following the war, it was reactivated during the Korean War and Cold War era. The focus shifted to chemical weapons training during and after the Vietnam War. The fort survived one round of military base closings during the 1990s, but it was finally shut down in 1999. The site has shifted to private use as well as for Alabama National Guard training.


Read more at Encyclopedia of Alabama.

For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 hours ago

Ainsworth in Huntsville: Alabama is ‘the aerospace capital of the world’

Wednesday, Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth (R-AL) presented Dr. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr. with the 2019 Thomas R. Hobson Distinguished Aerospace Service Award for a lifetime of exemplary achievement in the aerospace field.

The award presentation came during the Aerospace States Association’s annual dinner, which was held in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

Ainsworth is currently chair of the association, which is a national nonpartisan group composed of lieutenant governors, gubernatorial-appointed delegates and associate members from aerospace organizations and academia.

In remarks shared with Yellowhammer News, Ainsworth honored Alabama’s space legacy, recognizing Apollo 11’s 50th anniversary this week.


“Throughout each of the past six decades, Alabama and the Marshall Space Flight Center have created the engines that rocketed man into the heavens,” he said. “It’s here that Dr. Wernher Von Braun and his committed team of scientists and engineers birthed the Saturn V rocket that took men to the Moon and allowed them to place a U.S. flag on the lunar surface.”

“For those reasons, it’s altogether appropriate that we gather in this state and this city for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission,” he continued. “We are fortunate to have Buzz Aldrin, an original moonwalker and living American legend, join us during this conference.”

The conference is set to last through the rest of the week, with attendees working on publicly policy related to the aerospace industry and advocating for their home states.

“The work we do here this week will bring the stars and planets closer to the earth and ensure that future generations are privy to the same dreams and inspirations that the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Skylab, Shuttle, and Space Station eras provid-ed to generations prior,” Ainsworth told the crowd.

Alabama is set to play a big role in ongoing and future space exploration, as Ainsworth emphasized in an interview with WHNT on Wednesday.

“I was just talking with some industry leaders who are here and they are talking about expanding the existing industry,” he the lieutenant governor said. “I think a lot of new industries are looking here. And the reason why is we are the aerospace capital of the world. I think when you look at our tax environment, with the workforce we are training, Alabama is open for business in aerospace, no doubt.”

Speaking with WZDX, Ainsworth referenced the Artemis program, with companies like United Launch Alliance (ULA) in Alabama set to make history in the very near future.

“Today I had an opportunity to tour ULA where they are building rockets that will literally send our next astronauts to the Moon, and when you look at just the president’s commitment to going back to the Moon, and when you look at potentially the future of going to Mars, it’s an exciting and energetic time in the aerospace industry right now,” Ainsworth advised.

RELATED: Aderholt celebrates Apollo 11, calls for SLS to stay on schedule

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn.

12 hours ago

Apollo 11 is now problematic?

Right now, Alabama, along with the rest of America, is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission. A mission that culminated in man walking on the moon and fulfilled the vision put out by President John F. Kennedy that it would be done before the end of the 1970s.

In normal times, this would be a time for celebration and unity. Americans from all sectors and political parties would drop their swords and join together to consume media of trying times and magnificent accomplishments.


Unfortunately, this is Trump’s America and because of that, the overarching theme that must pulse through every aspect of American culture, which is dominated by the media and their Democrats, is the simple undeniable and universal belief that America sucks.

It’s racist, stupid, sexist, stupid, homophobic, stupid, Islamaphobic, stupid and stupid.

Our soccer team believes it. Our celebrities believe it. Our politicians believe it.

And the news media is going to feed it to us non-stop.

For example, Werhner Von Braun was a Nazi, therefore his accomplishments on this matter are unworthy.

Another example: The space program had too many men, therefore it was problematic.

Another argument is Soviet Russia had more firsts (or something), so America should have focused less on accomplishing the mission and more on diversity.

Who is this for? What American wanted this? Who is the consumer for this news?

Inhabitants of American newsrooms and their woke superfans online.

This was not one outlet, one reporter, one editor — it is across the board.

These are major American media outlets and they cannot resist the urge to scold their fellow Americans for, in this case, the perceived sins of the past.

This is why people hate the media as a whole.

They aren’t offended, they aren’t going to write a letter, they aren’t going to demand someone be fired.

Your average American is sick of this nonsense. They roll their eyes and go on about their business.

This is why people don’t trust them. This is why they are called things like the “enemy of the people” and people applaud it.

This is how you got Trump.

President Donald Trump is the embodiment of the people who are sick of this crap.

And every time the people who work in these newsrooms and under these “legendary” banners write these articles try to scold Americans for some clearly arbitrary offense of the day, or the past, they might as well drop a dollar into Trump’s reelection campaign.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 am weekdays on WVNN.

13 hours ago

Doug Jones’ approval rating continues to fall

Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) continues to lose popularity as 2020 draws nearer.

Morning Consult on Thursday released its polling numbers for the second quarter of 2019, showing Jones’ net approval rating 20 points lower than the first quarter of 2018 when he entered the U.S. Senate.


The polling was conducted from April 1 through June 30 and measured registered voters. The results showed 39% of respondents approved of Jones’ job performance, while 37% disapproved and 24% were undecided. The margin of error was 1%.

In contrast, Senator Richard Shelby’s (R-AL) net approval rating is 15 points higher than Jones’, with 46% approving and only 29% disapproving of Alabama’s venerable senior senator.

Jones’ net approval rating has dropped three points since the beginning of the year.

Another poll conducted in April went deeper than Morning Consult’s approval rating surveys, showing that Jones faces nearly insurmountable demographic barriers to reelection.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn.

13 hours ago

Alabama couple turns racist graffiti message into opportunity to respond to hate with love

Jeremy and Gina Miller, an interracial husband-and-wife real estate team in the Birmingham metro area, were shocked on Wednesday to discover a racial slur painted on one of their “For Sale” signs at a local property.

ABC 33/40 reported that “NO N***R” was painted on the Local Realty sign in large white letters.

However, the Millers are responding to this hateful incident purely with love, guided by their faith, according to The Trussville Tribune.

“I think that God has been preparing Gina and me for a long time, in ways that we never would have expected, to touch a lot of people,” Jeremy told the newspaper.


The Millers, who live in Clay, will not be pressing charges on the individual responsible for the racist graffiti, whose identity is at this time unknown.

“We would love to know who did it because if we find them, we will show them mercy,” Jeremy advised. “I don’t think anything good comes from pressing charges. That’s not the message here.”

The couple hopes to use the incident to unite their community and lift others up.

“We just got a message on Facebook yesterday about how God spoke to him through my post and our response,” Jeremy told The Trussville Tribune. “It encouraged him to see us responding through love and not through retaliation.”

“When something like this occurs, you can love back instead. We want to unite people,” he added.

Jeremy also wants people to know the racist incident is not representative of their community.

“This is not indicative of the people in this area,” he emphasized. “It happens everywhere and they don’t always say it to your face.”

Perhaps the toughest part of the incident personally for the Millers has been trying to tell their children what happened.

“Having to explain to them what happened with the sign has been a little frustrating,” Gina noted.

The Millers are also using this incident as a learning opportunity.

“We tell [our children] all the time, hurt people, hurt people,” Jeremy explained. “I tell them that even adults do mean things sometimes. When you’re angry, you’re not nice to other people… We want to respond in love when maybe that person hasn’t received such things.”

Jeremy stressed a constant message of love.

“It (racism) is not dead and it probably won’t die for a very, very long time, but we as a culture and society have to keep perpetuating the message of loving one another,” he remarked. “If someone’s hurting and they lash out at you, you don’t have to respond negatively.”

The defaced sign has been replaced with a fresh one that includes both Jeremy and Gina’s headshots.

Read more here.

Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn