City Federal Building
The City Federal Building, constructed as the Comer Building in 1913, is a 27-story, 325-foot-tall neo-classical styled skyscraper located on the northwest corner of 2nd Avenue North and 21st Street. The building, which was designed by William Weston, was the tallest skyscraper in the Southeast when it was constructed, and remained the tallest in Alabama until Mobile's AmSouth Bank Building was completed in 1969. It was surpassed as the tallest building in Birmingham when the AmSouth-Sonat Tower was completed in 1972. It remains the tallest neo-classical skyscraper in the South.
The Comer Building was renamed in December 1962 as part of a $250,000 renovation for the City Federal Savings & Loan, which purchased the skyscraper and prepared to move into its new offices in April 1963. With the help of Cobb, Adams and Benton architects and Thomas Brasfield & Company contractors the interior was remodeled and the exterior cleaned and waterproofed. New landmark neon signs were installed on the roof and down the southeast corner of the structure. In 1964 WSGN-AM constructed a penthouse studio on the top floor of the tower.
By the early 21st century, the building's terra-cotta facade had deteriorated to the point that the city labelled it a safety hazard and constructed sidewalk protection. The city filed a federal lawsuit against the building's owner, S&S LLC, to force them to secure the exterior cladding and to reimburse the city for its expense in protecting the sidewalk.
Atlanta-based developer Synergy Realty Services purchased the building in March 2005 and began a $20 million renovation to convert the office space into 84 condominiums, ranging in price from $250,000 to $925,000, and a penthouse residence priced at $1.85 million. Birmingham's Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds architects developed the renovation plans. Charles & Vinzant was general contractor, and Andrea Carmichael did the interior design work. Ingram & Associates is marketing the residential units.
The neon sign was kept as a landmark. It was refurbished and re-lit on December 14, 2005 to draw attention to the project. The first residents moved in during the Summer of 2007. By the Spring of 2009 48 units remained to be sold and Synergy organized to auction off 20 of them on May 12. After 11 units were sold at lower-than-expected prices, the owners stopped the auction. The Atlanta commercial real estate firm Carter acquired the building from Synergy in 2010 and invested in capital improvements to public areas and streetscape while also re-pricing the 28 unsold units.
- "Comer Building changes its name." (December 1962) The Birmingham News - via Birmingham Rewound
- Kent, Dawn (June 2, 2007) "City Federal to welcome its first residents in July." The Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (March 28, 2009) "In marketing move, 20 City Federal condo units to be auctioned." The Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (May 12, 2009) "Disappointed with bids, City Federal building owners halt auction." The Birmingham News
- Cooper, Lauren B. (October 12, 2010) "Carter plans improvements for City Federal." Birmingham Business Journal