10 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)

7 hours ago

Roby: U.S. service academies nomination deadline is quickly approaching

It’s hard to believe we’re already halfway through the month of October. November will be here before we know it, and with it comes Veterans Day. This is a uniquely special holiday, and as it approaches, I encourage you to take some time to reflect on the endless sacrifices made by those who have worn the uniform.

It is a tremendous honor to serve the Second District, which is home to two of our nation’s finest military installations, thousands of active duty and reserve personnel, and a large veteran population. Working on behalf of our service members and veterans has always been a top priority of mine in Congress, and it continues to be one of the most rewarding parts of my job. With Veterans Day on the horizon, I am personally reminded of the great debt of gratitude we owe the men and women of our military.

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As this important holiday nears, I believe now is an appropriate time to remind high school seniors in the Second District that the deadline to apply for nomination to the United States service academies through my office is less than one month away on November 8 at 5:00 p.m. Central Time. If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing this fantastic opportunity, please remember to submit all necessary materials to my Montgomery office by the deadline.

As a member of Congress, one of my distinct privileges each year is to nominate candidates for appointment to four of the five service academies: The United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, the United States Air Force Academy, and the United States Merchant Marine Academy. The fifth service academy, the United States Coast Guard Academy, does not require a congressional nomination for appointment.

I can nominate up to 10 individuals for each vacant slot allotted to the Second District. If you are pursuing entry to one of our nation’s distinguished service academies and endeavor to serve our country, I would like to offer my sincere gratitude and wish you the very best. It is because of our veterans, active-duty personnel and young leaders with hearts for serving this nation that we enjoy our uniquely American freedoms.

In the spirit of the upcoming Veterans Day holiday, I offer my sincerest thanks to all who have served our country in uniform. It is an honor to represent you in Congress, and I hope you will call on me if I can ever be of assistance to you. If you are a high school senior in the Second District and are interested in learning more about obtaining a nomination to the service academies from my office, please contact my staff in Montgomery by calling (334) 262-7718. Additional application information is also available on my website: www.roby.house.gov/student-resources/service-academy-nominations.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.

8 hours ago

Tide continues to top AP poll, Auburn No. 11

The Associated Press released their weekly college football poll on Sunday, with the Crimson Tide holding on to the top ranking after a 48-27 win at Texas A&M and Auburn moving up one spot following a bye-week.

Alabama (6-0) received 1,503 total points and 30 first-place votes, while LSU (6-0) moved up to number two with 1,449 points and 12 first-place votes after beating Florida.

Clemson, Ohio State and Oklahoma rounded out the top five, followed by Wisconsin, Penn State, Notre Dame and Florida.

Georgia fell from third to number ten after a stunning home loss to unranked South Carolina. The top seven teams are all undefeated.

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LSU and Bama will play in Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 9.

One conference has held both the top two spots 75 times since the AP poll started in 1936, none more than the SEC. Incredibly, this is the 27th time the SEC has simultaneously had the numbers one and two teams in the rankings since 2000. Ten of those times have involved the Tide and LSU Tigers at the same time.

RELATED: Return of ‘rat poison’: Saban warns players about listening to buzz about draft stock, records

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

9 hours ago

VIDEO: Almost everyone wants impeachment, Sen. Doug Jones feels the pressure, Alabama Democrats’ chaos continues and more on Guerrilla Politics

Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories, including:

— Can President Donald Trump and other Republicans force House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) hand on impeachment?

— What happens if U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) votes for President Trump’s impeachment?

— Will Alabama Democrats ever end their infighting and unite as a party?

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Jackson and Burke are joined by Lt. General Jim Link (U.S. Army – Retired) to discuss foreign policy matters in Syria and Hong Kong.

Jackson closes the show with a “parting shot” where he talks about how the NBA’s hypocrisy on Hong Kong will undermine all their social justice preening they do on American political issues.

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

10 hours ago

Rain barrels helping Alabama city combat flooding

Patsy Stallworth loves her rain barrels.

“I didn’t understand it at first, but after my husband explained it to me, I like it.”

Stallworth has two 55-gallon rain barrels installed at her home in the Mobile suburb of Prichard, catching up to 110 gallons of rainwater for her to use to water her flowers, wash her cars and wash the dirt off the house.

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“I was amazed at how it worked,” Stallworth said. “When it rains it fills up really quickly. This is a new adventure for me.”

Rain barrels helping alleviate flooding issues in Prichard from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

The rain barrels were installed at Stallworth’s home, free-of-charge, thanks to a stormwater mitigation program organized by the Mobile Bay National Estuary Program. Christian Miller, Watershed Management Coordinator for the Mobile Bay NEP, said the rain barrels are a big help in reducing flooding in Prichard, which is part of the Three Mile Creek Watershed.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with residential street flooding and some issues with sanitary sewer runovers, so some of the ways to combat this are to put in these rain-catchment devices,” Miller said. “These two 55-gallon drums aren’t going to solve all of our problems, but as we get more of these out it will hopefully help to reduce these localized issues with residential flooding.”

An inch of rain falling on a typical 1,000-square-foot roof yields more than 600 gallons of water which, in urban areas like Prichard, ends up washing down streets and other hard surfaces, picking up and carrying pollutants into waterways. Miller said increased rainwater harvesting will help reduce impacts associated with residential stormwater runoff.

“The residents have been the biggest champions,” Miller said. “Once we get them in and see what utility they have, they go around and tell their neighbors, the neighbors come to see them and we get phone calls at the office. People really like them and want to have them installed at their house.”

Miller said dozens of rain barrels have been installed in Prichard thanks to donations of materials and labor, including 98 barrels at 46 homes installed by volunteers from Alabama Power Service Organization.

“We’ve got a really good partnership with several different entities,” Miller said. “Greif Packaging and Soterra LLC have donated the barrels and Alabama Power has been really helpful providing supplies and labor to help install. With those folks and Mobile Bay NEP, we’ve really had a good combined effort to put all of these rain barrels out around the community.”

To learn more about the rain barrel program, visit mobilebaynep.com or call the Mobile Bay NEP at 251-431-6409.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

11 hours ago

Return of ‘rat poison’: Saban warns players about listening to buzz about draft stock, records

Two years ago in College Station, Texas, one of University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban’s most famous lines was born.

After a 27-19 victory at Texas A&M, one in which the Tide led 24-3 and did not close to Saban’s liking, he lamented that positive media headlines about the team were “rat poison” to the players.

It must be something about the Aggies — or maybe it’s just this time of the season — but Saban brought the phrase back after Saturday’s 47-28 win on Saturday.

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Speaking to reporters post-game, Saban was asked about quarterback Tua Tagovailoa becoming the school’s career passing touchdowns leader, moving ahead of A.J. McCarron with four touchdown tosses for the top-ranked Tide against No. 24 TAMU.

Saban gave a hat tip to how Tagovailoa handles himself before pivoting to talking about what really is important.

“Well, it means [Tagovailoa] had a great career to this point and we certainly appreciate his competitive spirit, the way he prepares for games, his leadership, the way he practices, his ability to help us score points on offense,” Saban answered. “He’s very instinctive, so it means a lot from that standpoint, but it also doesn’t mean much when it comes to, ‘What are you going to do in the future?’ And I think he has an opportunity, based on the type of offensive team we have, to have great production if he can continue to just stay focused on what we want to do.”

The legendary coach then referenced the genesis of the “rat poison” line two years ago in the same location, before explaining how it is relevant today.

“I mean, this is where — this very seat is where ‘rat poison’ was born,” Saban continued. “So I remember that two years ago, all right? And when I hear things in the media about whether guys are first-round draft picks or they’re setting great records and all that type of thing, that’s not really what I like for players to be focusing on right now.”

He emphasized, “You’ve got to focus on what are you doing right now, not what’s going to happen in the future, not really what happened in the past, but, ‘What can I learn from what’s happened in the past? How can I affect what’s going on right now?’ Because that’s what’s going to affect the future in a positive way. So, that’s how we want our players to think regardless of how difficult y’all make it for us sometimes with some of our players.”

RELATED: Yellowhammer Power Poll after college football week seven

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn