The Birmingham City Council voted Tuesday to rezone the Southtown Court housing project, making way for a mixed-use redevelopment of the property.
Now designated a “mixed-use downtown” district, the property will be transformed into a development that includes multi-family residential, hotel, office, retail/dining, medical office, parking garage and open space uses.
The property is in the city’s Southside, bordered by University Boulevard to the north, U.S. 280 and St. Vincent’s Hospital to the east, 10th Avenue South to the south and 23rd Street South to the west. Developers intend to turn the property into a “pedestrian-friendly corridor,” including pocket parks, green spaces and bike lanes.
Plans to redevelop the property where a 455-unit housing project now stands have existed in some form since at least 2008, when then-Mayor Larry Langford suggested turning it into a mixed-use commercial district. The Housing Authority of the Birmingham District announced its plans to redevelop Southtown in 2015, bringing on Southside Development Co., a partnership between Corporate Realty and several other property managers, as its development partner.
Carol Clarke, general manager of Southside Development Co., told councilors that the HABD “has taken great time and care in facilitating the relocation of the current site residents,” and that relocation efforts were roughly 90% complete. Housing vouchers were given to 224 families to enter the private housing market, while others took the option to relocate to other HABD properties in Birmingham.
Eighty-eight families living in the northwest quadrant of the property will be able to continue living there until construction on replacement housing is completed.
Demolition of the other three quadrants of the property will start in mid-June, with the first phase of residential construction slated for the fall.
The development will include between 370 and 420 residential units. Of those, 220 units will be affordable housing.
District 3 Councilor Valerie Abbott expressed concern that the 225-foot height maximum on the new development was too tall and requested that it be reduced to 100 feet; her proposal was roundly rejected by the rest of the council. Abbott abstained from the final rezoning vote; the rest of the council, except the absent District 6 Councilor Crystal Smitherman, voted in favor of rezoning.