Birmingham Pursues Two Federal Agencies to Fill Downtown Building

Andrew Yeager, WBHM

The former Liberty National building in downtown Birmingham has been vacant since 2010. City leaders hope to attract two government agency headquarters to fill the space.

The former Liberty National Building has sat vacant since 2010. Now the City of Birmingham is hoping it can draw two government agency headquarters to the Magic City and breathe new life into that building. It could also bring 600 new jobs. Birmingham Business Journal reporter Brent Godwin wrote about the city’s effort and spoke with WBHM’s Andrew Yeager.

Interview Highlights

What agencies are involved:

“The two [U.S. Department of Agriculture] entities are the National Institute of Food and Agriculture … and the Economic Research Service … Their leases are expiring soon in D.C. and so they put out a bid looking for a new spot and that’s what Birmingham is going after.
“From Birmingham’s standpoint it [makes] a ton of sense. So much of the state of Alabama, businesses [are] agriculture related. It ticks a lot of boxes for us and it could tick a lot of boxes for them as well.”

What landing these headquarters would mean for downtown Birmingham:

“You’re going to hear this a lot in the business community is we need the density of jobs. We need the vitality that comes from having multiple large employers. And that’s something that has been lacking even as Birmingham has so much going on. So this would really add to that. Especially if it were to land at the Liberty National building, that would obviously be significant for downtown in bringing a tall, very recognizable building back to life from it’s current state where it’s just been vacant.”

When the project might happen:

“We are not really sure when the USDA is set to make its decision, but they have indicated timelines that they’d like to be somewhere by fall of 2019. So if you think about how long those processes take, that’s actually a pretty short timeline, so we could know something fairly soon, maybe by the end of the year.”