Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Positive Things Happening in Birmingham

I’m an early bird. I come into our downtown office around 7:00 or 7:30 every morning. I see people of all ages out walking their dogs or just enjoying the morning. They live in condos or lofts, and most likely they work nearby, too. Those scenarios were unimaginable in this town 30 years ago.

For this city to still be growing and surviving after all it’s been through is amazing. I’m more positive about downtown Birmingham than I’ve ever been. Right now we’re seeing continued growth at UAB, an expansion at Children’s Hospital and development of the baseball stadium, Railroad Park and restaurant row on 2nd Avenue North. Plus, I read in a recent Birmingham News article that the Rotary Club of Birmingham will partner with the City of Birmingham and other organizations to convert an abandoned rail corridor along First Avenue South into a landscaped greenway for walkers and bicyclists.

We’ve also got all the young, independent thinkers who have started new businesses or moved their existing businesses downtown into renovated, old buildings. We’re even seeing companies who moved out of downtown years ago start to move back. That’s practically unheard of!

A new seven-floor tenant will be moving into the former Regions headquarters building that’s been vacant since Regions and AmSouth merged.  A big securities firm is looking at 125,000 to 150,000 square feet downtown.  Harbert Management Company sold their headquarters in Riverchase and moved to 60,000-square-feet downtown.  Cadence Bank is moving their new 58,000 square foot headquarters into a Class A building downtown.  A high tech company just bought an old building to renovate and will be moving their company to Morris Avenue.  And those are just a few examples.

Southpace has saved more downtown buildings and central district buildings than all other real estate firms combined. We love downtown and we love being here, even though 90% of our business isn’t even in the city of Birmingham. It’s in other markets, cities and the suburbs.

There is so much energy and interest in downtown properties from young and old, it’s really refreshing. Seeing people face-to-face because they live and work in this neighborhood and actually talking to other humans instead of texting or emailing is wonderful.  We obtain business while getting our shoes shined at the Bon Ton, going to the dry cleaner, walking to the YMCA or while having lunch downtown. People rarely consider downtown to be a neighborhood, but it is becoming a neighborhood again.

Downtown isn’t for everyone, just like suburban markets aren’t for everyone when it comes to work and play. It’s what fits best for your business, employees and owners. Instead of a follow-the-leader society, we have an eclectic group of folks who are thinking out of the box and many are choosing downtown Birmingham.

We feel downtown Birmingham has a great future!

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.

5 Replies to “Straight Talk with John Lauriello: Positive Things Happening in Birmingham”

  1. Loved reading about the positives of downtown Birmingham. You and your company have certainly added to keeping it positive. Great picture of you too.

  2. Great post! I am a Birmingham native who now lives in Kansas City. We come home twice a year to visit family, and it warms my heart to see the city evolving.

  3. Hi John, it was a treat to read about such positive things happening in Bham. It is a credit to you and your firm that you have never flagged in your support of the city.
    Keep up the good work and thanks for keeping us informed here on the farm.

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