Some folks have taken notice of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization.
Livability.com has compiled a list of the top 10 best downtown areas for 2014, and Birmingham made it on the list by the skin of Vulcan’s teeth.
The site – which “explores what makes small to mid-sized cities great places to live, work, and visit” – named Fort Worth, Texas as the best downtown, with Providence, Rhode Island following behind. Birmingham was on the list with Indianapolis, Alexandria, Provo, Fort Lauderdale, and Eugene.
Birmingham was at the bottom of the list – right there in that number 10 spot. But the important thing is that The Magic City made it at all. It’s difficult to imagine Birmingham making that ranking 10 years ago — or even being in the ballpark.
Speaking of ballparks, many of the amenities that Livability.com cited in placing Birmingham on its list were not in existence ten years ago. Railroad Park and Regions Field are seen as drivers of Birmingham’s downtown revitalization, stirring interest in apartments and office space in the Parkside area.
“Projects like Railroad Park, which includes ponds, an amphitheater, a skatepark, a playground and pathways, and a recently completed 8,500-seat minor league baseball stadium (Regions Field) lure people downtown for events and activities,” the Livability write-up states. “They’ve also caught the eye of a group of investors who recently purchased a warehouse and several buildings near the ballpark. The investors plan to develop office and residential space, envisioning the rooftops of some living units overlooking Regions Field.”
The ongoing renovation of the Lyric Theatre gets a mention. Even Alabama’s state legislators get a shout out for doing something good: passing the historic renovation tax credits that are helping make the renovation of the Pizitz Building and the Thomas Jefferson Hotel a reality.
The Second Avenue district – where residents from out of the area “bustle in and out of funky new shops and restaurants that have sprouted up” – is also highlighted, as is the Uptown development anchored by the Westin Hotel.
The real highlights are the numbers – a drop in retail vacancy downtown, a 36 percent increase in population in the downtown area 2000-2010, income growth, and other indicators. Those were the criteria for the rankings, according to a release from Livability.
“Having a great downtown is about more than just having a great main street,” Matt Carmichael, Livability.com editor, said in a release. “A downtown should have a cultural and retail focal point, like a main street, but it has to expand beyond that, providing a solid core for the entire community.”
For the article online, and to see the complete list of the top 10, go to: http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2014/03/birmingham_makes_list_of_top_1.html