Mayor Woodfin has been the major catalyst for the revitalization of Birmingham’s neighborhoods. His enthusiasm for and empathy with residents of these communities is vividly demonstrated in this video and is the major reason Birmingham is rising nationally as one of the best places to live and retire. It is ranked by US News as the #2 place to live in Alabama and has risen from #218 to #91 nationally. As the video says PROGRESS Together.
NEW PROJECT COMING: Renovation of old firehouse in Baltimore, MD to International Black Firefighters Museum.
April, 2021: Deconstruction of Ramsey-McCormick Building in final stages. See video on Mayor Woodfin’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MayorRandallWoodfin/posts/2851190838473391
March, 2021: Phase 1 of the restoration of the Gaston Motel has been completed with the re-lighting of the motel sign in an early evening service on March 10, 2021. Read the complete article in Bham Now. Official details from the Birmingham City Council.
REVISED: The next Ensley Engagement Meeting has been moved to April 10, 2021, with new meeting time of 10:00 AM CDT. Participants are challenged to bring an elder or youth to the next Zoom meeting with them.
Ensley Engagement Meeting March 6, 2021
This meeting supplied a wealth of information. Irvin Henderson, began the meeting with an overview of the demolition process in which progress has been made down to the 6th floor; the grinding of columns continues; demolition will be ending shortly. He noted that a demolition holiday was extended around Valentine’s Day to help increase traffic to local retail establishments. Irvin also elaborated on the advantages of creating a “green” building. The HVAC system would operate on a VRF (variable refrigerant flow) system which allows the systems to operate on a zone-based flow creating the most energy-efficient atmosphere within the entire building. The internal environment is also aided by the quality of windows and ceiling heights. Encouraging the healthiness of building residents, stairs will be integral as well as outdoor eating platforms. Safety will be encouraged by special night lighting and coordination with proper policing.
The next phase will involve more engineers and trades people. A running list is being maintained of any Ensley residents who have skills which could be utilized in future construction / maintenance areas to include: maintenance / janitorial; security; signage and monitoring of trails; and landscaping, to name a few. Soft skills will also be welcome in response to needs of the community to include accounting, education and outreach. To be included on this list, contact Irvin directly through http://www.hendersonandcompany.net or visit http://www.ensleyrising.com. Renderings of the internal structure will be available on the ensleyrising.com website shortly, in response to participant queries.
A new member of the team was introduced. Llevelyn Rhone has joined both the Historic District Developers and the Ensley District Developers teams as a Project Manager. He brings extensive experience in business operations, community and economic development, project management and program design. He is an Alabama native and resident.
Participants were divided into 3 groups during a 30-minute break-out session. Ideas discussed are below:
- Bring more art / museum knowledge directly into the community, in particular to reach out to youth
- Promoting more reliable Internet access in the area, getting devices into the hands of those who have not previously had access, and providing classes on digital literacy
- Bringing more relevant retail into the area rather than residents needing to go outside the neighborhood
- Access to more and better health care facilities
- How to create outdoor spaces where people can engage with others in clean entertainment, i.e. sports
- Have a large kick-off event and later recurring pop-up events including retail and / or health fairs. Brian Rice and Hali Chambers are currently working on developing street markets
- Set aside some funding through the Business Alliance to encourage youth entrepreneurship.
- Create varying types of residential housing, particularly along 19th Street which is more of a walking street
- Determine how to create an Ensley “brand” which is not associated with the crimes reported on the plethora of streets named Ensley which are not related to the actual Ensley community
Part of Irvin’s conclusion to the meeting was to mention developing a 2-step tax credit system to curtail gentrification and displacement of current residents. Additionally, discussions with legislators could be held about re-zoning areas to include accessory dwelling units, such as mother-in-law apartments and tiny home developments ideal for high-functioning elders.
Ensley Engagement Meeting: February 5, 2021
The second meeting of the Ensley Engagement team centered around some of the activities being done to engage the community in the development process as well as a background of the funding sources being used by the team and available to community participants.
There are currently 12 interns canvassing the community in 2 key areas. They are documenting current conditions through photos and interfacing with business owners and residents to ascertain what improvements and businesses they would want in their community. Two of the interns will be retained after the conclusion of their scheduled internships: Emily Hiester and Dylan Braziel. Irvin Henderson gave an overview of the various funding sources, how they are obtained and the fee structures associated with them.
Chaplain Jaysie Sheppard reported on her discussions with community participants. She may offer classes on social media that would help businesses grow. Tarence Belser is one of the principals of Integral Life Solutions, a newly-founded non-profit providing financial resources. Financial literacy seminars can also be found through Urban Impact and The Business Alliance.
One last note: A change will be made to the Ensley Rising web site (ensleyrising.com) to include a vendor drop-down to the contact page.
Ensley Engagement Meeting: January 6, 2021
A meeting of the development team, architects, Councilman Hilliard of the 9th District, and community groups from the Ensley neighborhood was held on December 5, 2020. The architects and project managers outlined the planned demolition and reconstruction of the Ramsey-McCormick building. The expectations for this development are to be a completely sustainable “green” building and the anchor for expanding development throughout the entire community. Questions and concerns were fielded from community organizations about security, lighting, communication with current property owners in the area, and ways to create opportunities for jobs, services, etc. for future community enhancement.
Two programs mentioned during the meeting:
Facade Improvement Pilot Program
In October, the city of Birmingham launched a pilot program to upgrade the facades of building in certain communities to enhance development in those areas. Ensley is one of the 9 communities selected for improvement. Read full details….
Birmingham is one of the cities which has received funding for PATH programs. The grants are provided to agencies which provide services and affordable housing to reduce homelessness within target communities. PATH details….
A. G. Gaston Conference
At the sixteenth Annual A. G. Gaston Conference held in Birmingham this past February, a panel of business leaders encouraged small, minority and diverse business entrepreneurs to take part in the growing revitalization of Birmingham. Panel participant Irvin Henderson, who is currently working on several developments in the Birmingham area, including the Gaston Motel renovation, declared that “his company is in Birmingham, not by mistake, here on purpose”. View the complete panel discussion.
June, 22, 2020: Historic preservation projects may be in jeopardy in Georgia if State Senate eliminates Historic Tax Credit. Read full story…
March 4, 2020: Optimistic view for LIHTC
Stay up-to-date with housing tax credit news with Novoco.com’s monthly News Briefs: