Author Topic: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham  (Read 3885 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« on: November 02, 2009, 06:04:44 AM »
Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham



Metro Jacksonville explores Alabama's Magic City: Birmingham

Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-nov-elements-of-urbanism-birmingham

zoo

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2009, 08:44:58 AM »
Were these pictures taken on a Sun a.m.? I can see it was cloudy, then rained, so that might partially explain lack of people? Other than in the park photos, Birmingham appears to have less people-vibrancy in their downtown than we do.

thelakelander

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2009, 09:03:35 AM »
They were taken on a Sunday morning with a major rain storm heading Birmingham's way.  However, from previous trips to Birmingham, their DT struggles with many of the same issues Jacksonville faces.  Neither are vibrant 24/7 centers.
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reednavy

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2009, 09:21:14 AM »
Birmingham just a few years ago was one of America's biggest banking centers. AmSouth, Regions, and Southtrust were all headquartered in downtown. Of course, Wachovia bought Southtrust, and AmSouth merged with Regions, and this has somewhat hurt the city.

When driving along I-65 in Birmingham, for the past 15 or more years, I have yet to see a year that does not have at least 2 tower cranes working on something over there. That campus is just huge, and I wish FSCJ Downtown would start to go vertical as UAB has.
Jacksonville: We're not vertically challenged, just horizontally gifted!

stjr

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2009, 09:57:36 AM »
Having visited Birmingham in the last year, I was struck by its many resemblances and commonalities with Jacksonville.  It's downtown area, for whatever reason, still has more vibrant historic infrastructure than we do.  But, being there on a Sunday, as well, it was deader than dead in the high rise district.  I think there is downtown housing, but like ours, it's not enough yet to make an impact.

What Birmingham has that we sorely miss is UAB.  The impact of this university and its medical school on the City can not be underestimated.  UAB will assure that the future of Birmingham will be moving forward in the future.  Jax needs to get a branch or HQ's of a full four year university with research in proximity to downtown if they want to put downtown on fast forward with steroids.  Nothing else will compare.

Quote
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (also known as UAB) is a doctoral, public research university covering 83 blocks in the heart of Alabama's largest city Birmingham, Alabama, USA. The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education classifies UAB as an institution of RU/VH or "Very High Research Activity," the only university in the state of Alabama to meet that definition. UAB is one of only 96 universities in the nation with the designation. UAB is a vital economic engine of the state of Alabama with an estimated $3 Billion annual impact. UAB is currently the states largest employer with more than 18,000 faculty and staff and over 53,000 jobs at the university and in the health system. Almost 10% of the jobs in the Birmingham-Hoover Metropolitan Area are related to UAB.

In the Fall of 2009, the University of Alabama at Birmingham enrolled a record 18,047 students from over 110 countries including 1,517 freshmen.  The medical center which is located on the east and north sides of campus closest to downtown contains buildings mostly dedicated to healthcare, research, and support of those enterprises. Also located in the medical center district are non-UAB hospitals, such as the VA Medical Center Birmingham, Children's Hospital of Alabama, and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. The west campus area near Interstate 65 and the Glen Iris and Southside communities is mostly dedicated to the non-health related schools, student housing, and athletic facilities.

Since 1969, UAB has undergone extensive growth and is sometimes jokingly referred to as "The University that Ate Birmingham."
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 10:54:33 AM by stjr »
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2009, 10:41:05 AM »


Finally, we find a city with more transportation "stupid" then Jacksonville. This WAS the Birmingham Terminal Station, the tracks were elevated on a long viaduct. Been there on the train. With outstanding forsight they completely wrecked the station, the Amshack in your photo is in one of the former "closets" under the original viaduct.




This is the former Seaboard Air Line Yard office and a flag station on edge of Birmingham, I post it here because of the recent discovery of the location of Seaboards Springfield Yard office, and flag station in Jacksonville. Most of these buildings were built from a book of standard plans, those who have seen the Yulee station will see this photo as familiar. I suspect the Springfield Station was a near duplicate.

OCKLAWAHA
« Last Edit: November 02, 2009, 11:15:39 AM by Ocklawaha »

reednavy

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2009, 10:49:07 AM »
I know I read a while back that downtown Birmingham is trying to get a streetcar line underway within the next 5 years or so. Let's see who gets it off the ground quicker.
Jacksonville: We're not vertically challenged, just horizontally gifted!

mtraininjax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2009, 10:54:01 AM »
Ock - Indeed very sad to see they lacked vision, especially for such a great monument to the people of Birmingham.

STJR - There is no reason that UNF cannot duplicate the same success in its area. SJTC, shopping, housing, and UNF with its beginnings will/should become a more powerful resource for education and for commerce in Jax. No reason to think that FSCJ could not do the same downtown. What they need are incentives by the CITY to offer them more growth downtown. Give away the city buildings to them with leases of 1 dollar a year for 99 years, get the college to start using the buildings that are just sitting.

Lake - What growth items are driving Birmingham? Is it only the university? Do they have any new manufacturing on the horizon? MFG feeds smaller firms as well, its a great minnow-big fish analogy. We need more of them here in Jax, and especially from overseas, if the dollar is getting killed by valuations of other currencies.
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reednavy

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2009, 11:06:27 AM »
The biggest players in the Birmingham-Hoover MSA are healthcare & research (UAB and Healthsouth major players), manufacturing, and banking.
Jacksonville: We're not vertically challenged, just horizontally gifted!

mtraininjax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2009, 11:13:40 AM »
Manufacturing - Who, and what type?
And, that $115 will save Jacksonville from financial ruin. - Mayor John Peyton

“This is a game-changer. This is what I mean when I say taking Jacksonville to the next level.”
-Mayor Alvin Brown on new video boards at Everbank Field

Ocklawaha

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2009, 11:18:43 AM »
Manufacturing - Who, and what type?

You know that one, we sent the plans for the steel mills along with the equipment, FedEx to China.
What REALLY pisses me off, somehow, we sent them the mines too!
;D

OCKLAWAHA


reednavy

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2009, 11:19:19 AM »
Manufacturing in goods such as paper, lumber, steel and other metals. Automotive is also nearby with Mercedes Benz' factory near West Blocton in Tuscaloosa County, and it is also a large logistics center.

Energy also maintains a healthy presence in the area.
Jacksonville: We're not vertically challenged, just horizontally gifted!

mtraininjax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #12 on: November 02, 2009, 11:25:19 AM »
Healthcare is about to EXPLODE in Abalama,  :o

Alabama ripe to become health insurance hub

Quote
Alabama could become a hub for health insurance providers if the ban on selling insurance policies across state lines is lifted, industry experts said.

If national health care reform leads to an end to the ban on interstate insurance sales, insurers are likely to flock to Alabama – which has the lowest insurance regulatory costs in the nation, according to a study by University of Minnesota finance professor Steve Parente.

“It would be a dynamic game changer if that were to happen,” Parente said. “In terms of regulatory pricing, Alabama is getting one of the biggest deals in the country.”

A final reform bill has not been crafted and there are many options and variables on the table in Washington, D.C. But the outcome of the political tug of war could determine Alabama’s chances of becoming an insurance hub.

Alabama’s low regulatory costs and limited legal hoops could set the state up to become to health insurance providers what Delaware is to business incorporation, Parente said.

In 2008, Parente conducted a study looking at the impact on each state if the interstate ban is lifted and found Alabama’s regulatory climate gives it a unique platform. Parente said Alabama has few health care service mandates and the state’s existing regulations are in line with proposed national changes.

National health care reform debates include many measures already available in Alabama. For example, Alabama insurers can issue policies, regardless of the consumer’s health history and offer uniform premium rates to all customers.

Alabama places the least restrictions on health insurers in the country, according Parente’s study. It only mandates 15 services be covered, the third lowest nationally. The national average for state mandates was 27 in 2008.

Alabama’s chances to become an insurance center with a significant economic impact hinge on its ability to attract jobs and local investment, said former Maryland Health Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer. Redmer said Alabama won’t benefit much if companies only have to register with the state to set up operations, such as the case with Delaware’s incorporation rules.

Securing a license to sell insurance in Alabama is not a tedious process. State requirements include delivering a copy of the firm’s articles of incorporation, description of marketing plan, biographical data for each officer and director, statutory deposit of $100,000 and $1,005 in admission fees. Insurers must also have $500,000 in minimum capital assets and $750,000 in surplus capital.

Redmer said Alabama won’t reap the rewards of its low regulatory costs if companies don’t invest in infrastructure.

“There could be increased regulatory costs to the state of Alabama without getting the corresponding revenue,” Redmer said. “The challenge for the public policy people in Alabama is would they require a minimum number of jobs to domicile in Alabama? The devil is in the details.”

An influx of insurers would set up shop in Alabama to deliver policies to consumers across the country seeking lower premiums, Parente said. Although BlueCross BlueShield of Alabama owns more than 90 percent of the state’s health insurance market, other carriers operate in Alabama. Those with existing infrastructure could quickly start selling out-of-state policies, Parente said.

Redmer said if firms are licensed in Alabama, the state would be wise to require some minimum level of marketing, policy offer and job creation.

Ragan Ingram, government relations manager for the Alabama Department of Insurance, said all new businesses add to the state’s coffers by paying the state income tax rate.

The state would collect taxes on written policies and any new jobs, Ingram said. He said the state welcomes any job creation generated from companies outside Alabama.
And, that $115 will save Jacksonville from financial ruin. - Mayor John Peyton

“This is a game-changer. This is what I mean when I say taking Jacksonville to the next level.”
-Mayor Alvin Brown on new video boards at Everbank Field

mtraininjax

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #13 on: November 02, 2009, 11:51:15 AM »
Office Space in Birmingham: (similar to Jax)

Quote
The current office market is sluggish”

That’s how Kevin Jaquess, of Daniel Corp., describes the local office climate – which is suffering from rising vacancies and an abundance of sublease space as companies try to cut costs.

For this special section, we asked local commercial real estate brokers about the trends they’ve noticed, the concerns they have and their outlook for the coming year.

“Tenants are in the driver’s seat”

If the local office market is a bus, John Hennessy says it’s pretty clear that tenants are the ones driving. But it’s a short trip.

Hennessy, of Sandner Commercial Real Estate, said tenants are hesitant to make long-term decisions in the uncertain economy – despite landlords offering creative leases, moving allowances and, sometimes, free rent.

“Weathering the storm better than most”

Local commercial real estate brokers seem to agree that Birmingham’s office market has performed well compared to some of our Southeastern neighbors in the recession.

The numbers back it up.

The vacancy rate in Birmingham’s Central Business District is lower than the rates of Atlanta, Memphis and Nashville and rental rates have held up relatively well – even with a high amount of sublease space hitting the market.

Leigh Ferguson, of Bayer Properties, said Birmingham is weathering the storm well because of its diverse economy and the limited amount of new developments on the market in recent years.

Joe Sandner III, of Sandner Commercial Real Estate, said Birmingham doesn’t have the volatility of other markets.

“It’s fair to say the good times aren’t as good, but the bad times are not as bad, either,” Sandner said.

“A wait and see mentality”

Daniel Corp.’s Jerry Grant expects that many of the same trends from 2009 will spill over into 2010 – especially in the first part of the year.

He expects that the growing amount of sublease space in the market will become true vacancies and that shadow space will mount as major players tread cautiously in the first half of the year. But, after that, he expects things to pick up.

“A few larger deals will have a positive impact on absorption and Birmingham should see activity pick up in the fourth quarter and continue at a slow place into 2011,” he said.

“Vacancy rates to increase”

Even with the economy showing signs of improvement, local brokers say you shouldn’t expect Birmingham office occupancy rates to rise with the S&P 500.

That’s because office occupancy rates are closely tied to unemployment rates, which have traditionally been a lagging indicator, said Joe Sandner IV, of Sandner Commercial Real Estate
And, that $115 will save Jacksonville from financial ruin. - Mayor John Peyton

“This is a game-changer. This is what I mean when I say taking Jacksonville to the next level.”
-Mayor Alvin Brown on new video boards at Everbank Field

heights unknown

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Re: Elements of Urbanism: Birmingham
« Reply #14 on: November 02, 2009, 01:50:06 PM »
Great looking and dense downtown, but where are the people?  There are none, zero, zilch, in almost all of these photos save an occasional car.

Oh, "the south will rise again!"

Or, "the south has risen?"

Heights Unknown
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