BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – In the month of October, two national chains shut their doors in the Five Points South neighborhood, prompting some people to question if the growing vacancies meant trouble for the historic area. Both Starbucks and Firehouse Subs closed, joining other empty shops along the main drag like the former site of Fuego Cantina and Saloon, which closed in December 2016.
“It’s concerning to people that aren’t familiar with what’s going on in Five Points South,” said Steve Alexander, chairman of the Five Points Alliance. “The loss of national brands certainly doesn’t give me any difficulty. Yesterday, we were on a broker’s tour with 30 people in the real estate business walking around this neighborhood, and a least two of them were interested in opening a coffee shop.”
The Five Points Alliance is a non-profit corporation, founded by neighborhood stakeholders to help with the redevelopment of Southside.
“Well, already broken ground is the Vesta development on Highland Avenue next to Temple Bethel,” explained Alexander. “It’s going to be a 17-story luxury apartment complex that will add about 500 residents to the immediate vicinity.”
Alexander also pointed to another residential development that is still in the planning stages. It’s slated to go in the location of The Break Pool Hall. That development will be another 17-story building, intended for student living.
“In the next couple of years, it will be a thousand more people living within two blocks of where we’re standing,” said Alexander. (At the time of this interview, we were standing in front of the Storyteller Fountain in front of Highland Methodist Church.)
“It’s a great thing,” said Alexander. “35205 is already the most densely populated zip code in the most populated part of Alabama, so that makes it even more walkable, even more friendly, even more business-friendly for people who come in and invest in Five Points South.”
According to Alexander, a new lease has also been signed on the former site of The Red Zone for a new bar, in addition to two new leases at the Pickwick Plaza.
Meanwhile, Orchestra Partners posted renderings of their current Five Points South Project on Facebook, Thursday:
We’ve gotten a lot of questions about the social house announced in February. As you probably know, we’ve been really busy with Founders Station, Avondale, and several other projects, but we’re pleased to announce that construction started last week at the old Bailey Brothers building in Five Points. It’ll open by Summer 2018.
This high-energy bar and restaurant will include multiple attractions inside, such as duckpin bowling, table tennis, shuffleboard, foosball and other group games that will ensure fun for all ages. Multiple lounge areas with TVs and lots of spectator seating will be available for those who’d rather watch than play.
Design for these things never really ends, but right now we’re expecting patrons to enter through an open, sunlit dining room, which is separated from the gaming suite by a large, well-stocked bar. A staircase near the front also leads up to a full service rooftop bar overlooking 20th Street.
The kitchen will be inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, grounded in Southern tradition. Food sourcing will be local, humane, and hormone/antibiotic free. The bar will serve a wide array of local and regional draft beer, wine, and a refreshing cocktail menu, and other refreshments.
The Pickwick parking deck is immediately across the street. It has 237 spaces, and it’s only $3 for an entire day (free on Sundays). Also, street parking along Magnolia Park a block away is free, and all metered spaces (of which there are many in the area) are free after about 6pm.
This redevelopment comes alongside several major Five Points South projects. Two 17-story apartment deals are slated for the neighborhood, including the 196-unit student housing concept on the site of The Break and the 318-unit luxury complex on Highland Ave. The two new hotels (Homewood Suites and Hotel Indigo) and the Base Camp redevelopment (also one of ours) are less than 200ft from the front door.”
You can learn more about the project on their Facebook page by clicking here.
The Five Points Alliance and local businesses are also celebrating the fact that the neighborhood has been going strong for the past 130 years. “We wanted to come up with something unique like Southside is, in celebration of the 130th anniversary,” explained Joe Babin, owner of Orbit Salon and founding board member for the Five Points Alliance.
From that, Saturday’s Storyteller Festival was born. The inaugural festival is centered around the Storyteller Fountain that is a focal point of the neighborhood. Babin said the creation by Frank Fleming brought a unique atmosphere to Southside.
The festival is happening from 2 pm until 6 pm on Saturday, and will feature the Five Points Star singer/songwriter competition, in addition to street performances, readings, and other creative features.