As you may have heard, I’m very excited about all of the positive things happening in downtown Birmingham right now. One of the things we’re looking forward to most at Southpace is the construction of Regions Field which will be the new home of the Birmingham Barons baseball team.
I think it will be great for the entire metro area. There’s already a lot of momentum on that side of town with the continued growth of UAB, the new Children’s Hospital, Innovation Depot and Railroad Park. When you put all those things together, you really have some buzz going on, and it will be great for Birmingham.
Some people in Hoover may disagree, but that’s just part of life. The Barons left Birmingham and went to Hoover years ago, and now they’re coming back.
If you look at other second and third tier cities like Montgomery, Memphis and San Antonio that have similar parks, it’s not a venue that’s used just for 30 home AA baseball games. It will be used for concerts, festivals, weddings and maybe help keep the SEC baseball championship in the area. It will continually encourage redevelopment in that part of downtown and on the North side of town right across the railroad tracks.
I was on a committee in the last few years of Dr. Richard Arrington’s term as mayor. We looked at similar communities that had minor league parks. For example, we looked at the Memphis ballpark before, during and after construction. What you see is that it really helps the immediate area in cities that are very similar to ours.
Another more recent example is Riverwalk Stadium in downtown Montgomery. People think the city is active and full of life because it’s the state capital, but there were a lot of retail spaces, office buildings and warehouses that were vacant for years that are now restaurants, bars, hotels and more. Those type of venues will have a very positive impact on Birmingham as well and probably encourage $50 to $100 million within a year or two after the park is up and operating.
We feel so confident in what the ballpark will do for the city, that we put a group together to buy property across the street on the corner of 1st Avenue and 14th Street. We want to redevelop it by doing a ground lease, build to suit or by restoring the existing building. We think it’s a real home run site, and before we even closed on the property, we had activity and interest from national players.
It’s not just about the positive impact on commercial real estate though. We plan to enjoy the ballpark, too. We’ll be sharing a box with two of our clients. I’ll go to games once in a while, but I think it will cater more to the folks who have children and the younger crowd at our firm who go to games and enjoy a beer and a hotdog. We’ve heard about a lot of other companies and firms like ours leasing other boxes for their employees and clients.
It’s an exciting development that will mean a lot to an area that’s already the heartbeat of Birmingham. Regions Field will only make that heartbeat stronger.
Southpace Properties, Inc. is Alabama’s largest independent commercial real estate firm. At Southpace, we add value to the use and ownership of commercial real estate through services such as office, retail, land, warehouse and industrial sales and leasing, tenant and landlord representation, development, consulting, investment sales, property management and construction management. With nine CCIM designees, Southpace has one of the state’s highest number of CCIM accredited brokers under one roof.