Refits Energize Steady Birmingham Market

City Grill

Ben Leaver

Ben Leaver


Robins and Morton

Builders in Birmingham are maintaining market momentum through 2024 with a steady stream of work as developers and city officials look at existing structures ready for reuse.

“Overall, the market is stable,” Leaver says. “Visually, there are a lot of tower cranes as you look out over the city skyline, and some sectors are experiencing a slight increase in activity, but many are maintaining momentum.”

Active sectors include biotech, education, multifamily and residential, as well as health care and related research facilities, he says.

City Scoop Birmingham

The city of about 200,000 residents — part of a metropolitan statistical area of ​​more than 1.1 million — is seeing increased activity in its suburbs, he adds, with an emphasis on downtown revitalization.

“Birmingham is starting to see the impact of long-vacant office space, particularly in the central area,” says Leaver. “City officials are considering rolling out new incentives for adaptive reuse, such as converting office buildings to residential space.”

One example is the former AT&T City Center, which was recently converted into a multifamily development: 600 Apartments. The third tallest building in the city, located at 600 19th St. N., now has more than 400 luxury rental units in the 30-story building following a $100 million renovation effort, according to Built in 1972, it was at one time home to more than 2,000 AT&T employees.

The tenth tower

Robins & Morton renovated the Tower on Tenth, which it originally built in 1967.
Photo courtesy of Marty Sellers

The project reflects a nationwide trend to find new life for vacated buildings rather than demolishing them or leaving them vacant, he says.

“Another significant effort for the city is recruiting young and diverse talent to Birmingham and improving the opportunities that keep it here,” says Leaver. “The Birmingham Business Alliance has been instrumental in this effort through their programs such as Birmingham Has More.”

This program, according to its website, was created to improve job creation, community development, talent recruitment and tourism opportunities in Birmingham’s seven-county region.

“Most of the challenges we see in Birmingham are not unique to the city and are broader challenges we face in high-volume build-out areas,” says Leaver, specifically noting the challenge of finding available land within Birmingham’s city limits and resonance differences. and permitting processes among local authorities.

“Birmingham is focused on combating urban decay through incentives that encourage developers and building owners to preserve or reuse existing historic buildings,” says Leaver. “Furthermore, improving the city’s walkability and integrating green spaces have been critical to improving urban development.”

“Improving the city’s walkability and integrating green spaces have been essential to improving urban development.”

—Ben Leaver, CFO, Robins & Morton

The city has also placed an increased emphasis on gathering places and community entertainment, which Leaver says could play into how downtown buildings are revitalized in the future.

Robins & Morton recently renovated Tower on Tenth, the former Trades Tower, as well as Hoffman Media’s new headquarters on Second Avenue.

The Tower on Tenth project, a $19 million revitalization of a historic building first constructed by Robins & Morton in 1967, created 242 apartment units in the 12-story, 144,000-square-foot building. The team worked closely with the City of Birmingham and the Birmingham Construction Industry Authority to achieve 40 percent minority trade contractor participation and an all-local contractor team, according to the company’s website.

Other local projects for Robins & Morton include work at Samford University’s Homewood campus, where the firm is rebuilding student housing and building a new residence hall, and Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, a two-story, 28,840-square-foot hospital expansion in Homewood, Ala.

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