2 weeks ago

Master plan for Birmingham’s Parkside aims to connect neighborhoods, enhance walkability

Orchestra Partners has joined forces with nationally renowned landscape architect Tom Leader to design a Parkside master plan to enhance walkability and connect the Parkside District to surrounding neighborhoods. This project includes historic preservation and mixed-use redevelopment plans for Powell Avenue Steam Plant and several historic warehouse buildings west of Railroad Park surrounding Good People Brewing.

Orchestra Partners announced the plan Thursday alongside the City of BirminghamAlabama PowerFreshwater Land TrustREV BirminghamUrban Impact and other key city partners. Orchestra Partners is a Birmingham-based community development and real estate management firm.

Connecting neighborhoods, enhancing walkability key components of new Parkside development from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

“Connectivity and walkability are core principles of our mission to build a better Birmingham,” said Hunter Renfroe, founder and principal of Orchestra Partners. “Partnering with Tom Leader will help us rebuild connections between Birmingham’s central business district and its surrounding neighborhoods by leveraging Railroad Park and the Red Rock Trail System as pathways of connection.”

Tom Leader, founder and principal of California-based TLS Landscape Architecture, was the lead planner and designer behind the development of Railroad Park from 2005 – 2010, a time during which he developed a deep commitment to Birmingham. Over the last decade, Birmingham’s “living room” has formed the core of the Parkside District and received national recognition for its successful efforts to spark the rebirth of downtown Birmingham.

“I’m honored to help build on the momentum created by Railroad Park,” said Leader. “We always hoped and planned that the urban growth surrounding the park could extend this vision of vibrant community gathering and sense of civic optimism. This project is about paying tribute to the Magic City’s past and laying the framework for the future.”

Leader’s comprehensive plan features pedestrian pathways enhanced with retail and entertainment amenities with public spaces anchoring both ends of Parkside District – the blocks surrounding Powell Avenue Steam Plant to the east and the Birmingham Wholesale Warehouse Loop District near Good People Brewing to the west – to enhance connectivity and create a lively entertainment experience.

“This project gives us the opportunity to preserve a group of classic midcentury warehouse buildings in this underutilized historic district on the west end of Railroad Park,” added Renfroe. “Revitalizing these buildings through adaptive reuse will help us preserve a major piece of Birmingham’s history while transforming this district into a critical western anchor point for Parkside.”

On the east end of Parkside, the integral component of the master plan features the redevelopment of Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant, a prominent symbol of growth and energy from Birmingham’s history. Built in 1895, it provided steam and electricity for downtown businesses and connected the city by powering its streetcar system.

In the master plan, Powell Avenue Steam Plant is designed to once again serve as a connection point for Birmingham, forming Parkside’s eastern anchor and using the Rotary Trail to connect with neighborhoods to the east. Railroad Park will continue to be Parkside’s central gathering place while the western blocks will become an anchor point for connections to Titusville and surrounding western neighborhoods.

“For more than a century, Powell Steam Plant played a pivotal role in shaping Birmingham’s growth,” said Tony Smoke, vice president of Birmingham Division for Alabama Power. “Now this historic structure will become a symbol of modern urbanization and economic development, connecting our communities to celebrate the future of Birmingham.”

Other historic warehouse buildings in Parkside recently acquired by Orchestra Partners in conjunction with the master plan include Duffy’s Garage, 112 14th Street South, 1227 1st Avenue South, 113 13th Street South, and 230 2nd Avenue South. Orchestra Partners expects to announce more specific leasing details later this year. (Credited Alabama NewsCenter)

For more information about leasing opportunities, visit Parkside Birmingham.

Parkside Development Project announcement at Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue Steam Plant in Birmingham from Alabama NewsCenter on Vimeo.

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

17 mins ago

Boeing donates over $500k to Alabama STEM education in 2019

In a Monday press release, Boeing confirmed that the company is making a $100,000 contribution to make Learning Blade available to every Alabama student in the fifth through ninth grades. Learning Blade challenges students to take on game-based projects that expose them to different aspects of science, technology, engineering and math education – commonly referred to as STEM.

With this contribution, Boeing — through its 2019 global engagement grants — has awarded $525,000 to Alabama communities in support of educational STEM programs for students and workforce development programs for transitioning military, veterans and their families.

The latest venture also exemplifies the importance of public-private partnerships in modern workforce development, as Boeing is partnering with the Alabama Department of Commerce and Governor Kay Ivey’s office to make Learning Blade available.

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This is one of four Boeing community grants that was initially announced October 17 in Huntsville. At that time, the company outlined its joint initiative with the Alabama Department of Commerce to offer Learning Blade, a validated STEM career awareness system, to WIOA youth serving organizations and schools throughout the state. Besides the company’s crucial contribution, the project is funded in part with federal monies made available to the Alabama Department of Commerce by the U.S. Department of Labor/Employment and Trainings Administration.

In a statement, Ivey professed her support for Learning Blade — which continues her historic focus on workforce development, including the Success Plus initiative to add 500,000 more skilled workers to the state by 2025.

“Providing access to college and career exploration is key to developing career pathways for all Alabamians,” the governor remarked. “It is difficult to know what you want to be when you grow up if you have never been exposed to the various options that are out there.”

“Furthermore, it’s extremely difficult for Alabamians in many rural areas, and even some of our largest cities, to strive towards the career pathway the best suits their interest and aptitudes because they do not know what is available to them,” she continued. “That’s why I am so proud of the public – private partnership between the State of Alabama and Boeing to provide access to high-quality career exploration through the Learning Blade platform. Through Learning Blade, students of a variety of ages, interests, and aptitudes will be able to explore career clusters and high demand career pathways. This exposure will help individuals persist in academic coursework and workforce training programs.”

The public-private partnership will result in Learning Blade being offered at no charge to students in all Alabama schools with grades five through nine. Learning Blade’s proven tool kit exposes students to the high demand STEM and computer science careers in an entertaining manner in an effort to increase student interest in these fields.

Educators can unlock more than 200 hours of interactive, online activities and teacher lesson plans that engage students in human-centered problems that illustrate more than 100 careers and technologies in industries such as IT, Cybersecurity, Advanced Manufacturing, Bioengineering, Energy, Robotics, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and more.

“Boeing has been in Alabama for more than a half a century, with its engineers and researchers playing key roles in developing the innovative aerospace technologies of tomorrow,” stated Tina Watts, community investor for Boeing global engagement. “It is essential to expose students in the state to the critical skills that will make them successful in STEM — unlocking their futures to opportunities through emerging technologies.”

Additionally, schools can work toward winning a 3D printer if students complete 5,000 online lessons in a single school year. Learning Blade’s 3D-printer sponsor, FlashForgeUSA, is providing a free 3D printer (Adventure 3) to such successful schools.

“We are grateful that so many leaders including the Governor’s office, Department of Commerce and others who came together with The Boeing Company to provide resources that will inspire students to envision their future,” concluded Sheila Boyington, president and CEO of Learning Blade. “It is really exciting to be a part of the process to enhance career awareness in the state, and to provide tools to teachers who will show students the many opportunities in STEM and computer science fields.”

Yellowhammer State schools and organizations serving the fifth-ninth grades can sign up for the program here.

RELATED: ‘Alabama’s Roadmap to STEM Success’ presented to Gov. Ivey

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

59 mins ago

Montgomery Chamber appoints retired Air Force general as senior vice president

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce has named Brigadier Gen. Trent H. Edwards (USAF, Ret.) as senior vice president of military and community development.

The announcement was made Monday in a press release. Edwards will focus on the viability and growth of Montgomery’s military missions while leading new community-wide initiatives that fuel the regional economy and stimulate quality of life for all.

In a statement, Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Anna Buckalew said, “Trent is an incredibly skilled and experienced leader, and we are so fortunate to have recruited him and his family back to Montgomery.”

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In addition to building on the River Region’s extensive military footprint, Edwards will work to build new strategies to fuel economic and entrepreneurial growth around Montgomery’s thriving Air Force innovation hubs.

“We want Montgomery to be recognized as a destination where military families want to locate, where public/private partnerships fuel innovation and where small businesses and start-ups find fertile ground. Trent Edwards is the perfect leader to capitalize on these opportunities,” Buckalew advised.

The general comes to the Montgomery Chamber with a distinguished military career, most recently as the Air Force director of budget operations and personnel, responsible for an $80 billion budget.

Prior to that assignment, he was the comptroller and programmer for Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, CO. He has commanded two Air Force wings including the largest training wing in the Air Force at Lackland Air Force Base and the 42nd Air Base Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base from 2012-2014. He also has extensive intergovernmental experience, previously serving as the Air Force chief of congressional affairs. His extensive leadership experience and familiarity with the River Region community makes him uniquely qualified for his new role at the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, the release emphasized.

“I have spent 30 years serving my country and am proud to return to Montgomery and serve the community we adopted as home,” Edwards commented. “One of my primary goals will be changing the perception of Montgomery and spreading the word that Montgomery really is the best hometown in the Air Force.”

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

2 hours ago

Bradley Byrne: Donald Trump ‘absolutely does not want’ Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Senator

Jeff Sessions’ entry into the U.S. Senate race last week has shown something Alabamians have not seen in decades: blunt criticisms, sometimes hostile, aimed at Sessions, who before serving in the Trump administration served Alabama for two decades in the U.S. Senate.

Prior to getting in the contest for U.S. Senate, Sessions was also a target of President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly indicated his disappointment and frustration with Sessions’ service as U.S. Attorney General.

During an appearance on Huntsville radio’s WVNN, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) discussed his former Alabama congressional delegation colleague and his decision to run against him in the March 3, 2020 GOP primary. According to Byrne, he has not seen any wavering of support.

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“We’re not noticing any difference. Obviously, in the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked to a large number of people. I, in particular, have talked to a large number of people. You know, I’ve got former Vice President Cheney and his daughter Liz, who is in the House, coming to a fundraiser for me in Birmingham this Thursday. So, I’ve been on the phone with quite a few people about that. We’re just not hearing any difference.”

Earlier this month, Byrne was in attendance with Trump at the Alabama-LSU game in Tuscaloosa. Byrne claimed Trump did not want Sessions to be the victor in next year’s contest.

“The president was pretty clear that he’s still pretty angry with Jeff,” Byrne said. “He absolutely does not want him to be U.S. Senator from Alabama. But you know, he recognizes Jeff has a right to run. Jeff is running. I just don’t think it is going to go anywhere. A lot of the American people are either angry with him, or they’re bewildered why he is running in the first place. And these ads that he is running aren’t helping him any. I can tell you that.”

Later in the interview, when asked about his personal reaction to Sessions’ eleventh-hour decision to run, Byrne acknowledged he was surprised. Byrne also said he and Sessions had been talking over the past year and that Sessions had even encouraged him to run.

The Baldwin County Republican added he saw this as a characteristic of Sessions.

“I just got to say this, Jeff vacillates like that,” Byrne added. “That’s kind of his M.O. He has a hard time making up his mind about things. And then he’ll make a decision like that — that kind of surprises you at the last minute. It doesn’t distress me, but a lot of my supporters are pretty darn angry with him, and a lot of my supporters used to be his supporters. So, I think that makes it more difficult for him.”

@Jeff_Poor is a graduate of Auburn University, the editor of Breitbart TV and host of “The Jeff Poor Show” from 2-5 p.m. on WVNN in Huntsville.

3 hours ago

7 Things: Impeachment slog continues, officers involved in Madison shooting still off the street, Chick-fil-A caves to their enemies and more …

7. Iron Bowl details announced 

  • The SEC announced that the Iron Bowl will be played at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn this year on November 30 at 2:30 p.m.
  • The game is set to be broadcasted on CBS. The weekend before the Iron Bowl, Auburn and Alabama are matched up against Samford and Western Carolina, respectively, but Alabama will be playing its first game without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

6. Ohio wants to ban all abortions

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  • Lawmakers in Ohio have proposed a bill that would ban abortions and bring murder charges against doctors who perform abortions, except for in a situation where a doctor saves the life of the mother but has to terminate the pregnancy.
  • State Representative Candice Keller (R-Ohio) said, “The time has come to abolish abortion in its entirety and recognize that each individual has the inviolable and inalienable Right to Life.” Ohio already has a “heartbeat” abortion law, and this would just take it one step further.

5. President Trump’s doctor: There are no concerns with Trump’s health

  • Speculation ran rampant, as was expected after the president made an unexpected stop at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but in a memo released by Dr. Sean Conley, physician to the president, he explained that the visit was part of a routine checkup but was kept off the record because of “scheduling uncertainties.”
  • This will placate absolutely no one, but Trump’s physician said his total cholesterol is 165, with HDL of 70, LDL of 84 and non-HDL of 95, all within recommended ranges for the 73-year-old President of the United States.

4. Buttigieg isn’t fighting racial inequality very well

  • South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 Democratic presidential campaign has somewhat focused on a plan to fight racial inequality, but on the portion of his campaign website designated to such efforts, his campaign used a stock photo of a Kenyan woman playing with her son.
  • The issue is with more than just one picture, though, as it’s been found that Buttigieg’s campaign has a habit of using stock photos of black individuals on their website that have no affiliation with the campaign. People have especially taken issue with this since some of the stock photos were used to promote “the Douglass plan.”

3. The mob will never be satiated

  • After years of support by a die-hard fanbase that liked the fact that a chicken restaurant was willing to stand by their principles of its owners, Chick-fil-A announced that they would no longer be donating money to “controversial” Christian charities such as Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Salvation Army.
  • This decision was met with derision by their supporters and attacked by the people they were trying to appease. GLAAD released a statement declaring this move was not good enough, stating, “In addition to refraining from financially supporting anti-LGBTQ organizations, Chick-fil-A still lacks policies to ensure safe workplaces for LGBTQ employees and should unequivocally speak out against the anti-LGBTQ reputation that their brand represents.”

2. An internal investigation has started in Madison shooting

  • The five police officers involved in the shooting of Dana Fletcher at the Planet Fitness in Madison are to remain on leave as the internal investigation takes place, but Madison County District Attorney Rob Broussard has already said that the shooting was legally justified.
  • Despite Broussard’s observation, the Madison police review board still has to go through the case, which includes a commander, lieutenant, sergeant and officer. Chief David Jernigan said, “Our officers are constantly and consistently receiving training in all areas of 21st century policing, including de-escalation techniques, officer safety, non-lethal options, and response to resistance.”

1. Impeachment testimonies start and maybe these are the ones that really matter

  • Week one’s impeachment proceedings were relatively uneventful. America seems generally less than interested and unwilling to be persuaded one way or the other, but the American media has still sold every testimony like it was a bombshell and keeps telling us that the next one will bring it all together.
  • Tuesday’s events will broadcast on all the networks as critics of President Trump’s foreign policy are praised for their service and they proceed to tell us that they don’t like how he does his job. Some will even relay a phone call they overheard in a restaurant.

5 hours ago

Amazon selects book on ‘Mockingbird’ author Harper Lee as best nonfiction work of 2019

The book editors at Amazon.com identified “Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee” as the best nonfiction book published in 2019.

The book is from first-time author Casey Cep. The first seven stops on Cep’s book tour were in various Alabama locations.

Goodreads.com describes “Furious Hours” as: “The stunning story of an Alabama serial killer, and the true-crime book that Harper Lee worked on obsessively in the years after To Kill a Mockingbird.”

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The book details the story of Alabama Rev. Willie Maxwell, who was accused of five murders before he was shot by a vigilante during the funeral of his last victim. Harper Lee was interested in the case at the time and reported on it with the intent to eventually publish a book.

Lee never published her work on the case, which “Furious Hours” investigates thoroughly.

The Amazon selection continues a good run of publicity for the Knopf published book. Terrance Finley, CEO of Alabama-based bookseller Books-A-Million, made “Furious Hours” his President’s Pick earlier this year.

The book spent a month on the New York Times Bestsellers List.

Additionally, Furious Hours is a finalist for the Southern Book Prize, and was listed by Time as one of the must-read books of 2019.

You can buy a signed first edition from Alabama Booksmith here, or a regular edition here.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95