BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The city of Birmingham has been working to bring more people back downtown, whether it’s to live, play or just enjoy the city center. Sunday’s announcement of a new mix-use development in the Parkside District is a step in the right direction. A new, five-story retail and residential building will be anchored on the bottom floor by a Publix Supermarket. The store will occupy 30,000 square feet and have a full service pharmacy. Above it will be a level for parking as well as three levels of living space.
To those who already live downtown, the news of a supermarket in walking distance is very exciting. “Normally we have to go out of town,” said Birmingham resident Grady Clements. “It’s just been unreal not having anything down here. It’ll be a good location and I’m real excited to see it take place.” Bayne Heersink, who also lives downtown, echoed Clements’ comments. “Usually we head out to Publix on Montclair. Either there or the Publix down on Greensprings or Whole Food down 280,” Heersink said. “It’s definitely much more convenient for us, to be able to walk a couple blocks, five minute walk downtown instead of hopping in the car for fifteen to twenty minutes.”
In a statement obtained by WIAT 42 News, Birmingham Mayor William Bell said, “This project is an exciting step to enhancing the area’s amenities and a start to addressing the food desert issue in our City. To have Publix be a part of the city center is a wonderful addition and we can not wait to get this project started.”
Tammy Cohen of Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds is one of the architects working on the project. She provided WIAT 42 News with a statement which reads, in part, “CCR is excited about being a part of this incredible opportunity and improvement to the downtown community. Anchoring the anticipated mixed-uses with such a desirable amenity; Publix, which is such a wonderful quality based market, creates a tremendous catalyst for future development and growth.”
The project is being developed by Scott Bryant and Dick Schmalz. They provided this joint statement to WIAT 42 News: “We are very happy to have gotten the approval from Publix. While there is still much work to do, this is a big step in the right direction for our total project.” Some of the work left to do is to get the project approved by the Design Review Committee. Once the project receives approval, the mayor’s office says construction will start later this year. The store is expected to opening in early 2016. “It’s going to make a lot of residents around the area happier. They don’t have to travel so far to get food now,” Clements said. “I think it could really change the dynamic of the downtown resident,” Heersink said. “No necessarily to young single or young married couples but also families with young children.”
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