Fair Park redevelopment
Fair Park redevelopment is a continuing project by the City of Birmingham to redevelop 82 acres of Fair Park at Five Points West with athletic facilities, residential buildings, and shopping and entertainment venues. Currently the city plans to spend approximately $50 million on infrastructure and swimming and indoor track facilities while recruiting private developers for retail and residential development. The anchor for the redevelopment project is the Birmingham CrossPlex athletic competition and training facility.
Shortly after taking office in November 2007 Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford proposed a large-scale redevelopment of Fair Park which would combine athletic facilities with residential, retail and entertainment facilities. The centerpiece of the redevelopment would be indoor track and swimming facilities. On April 8, 2008 the Birmingham City Council approved the use of $48 million in city funds to initiate construction. Langford publicized letters of intent from developers interested in building hotels, a grocery store, and an athletic apparel store in the area as well as a $500,000 commitment from the Alabama High School Athletic Association, which would use the proposed indoor track for statewide championship meets. Later phases would create an "Olympic Village" style residential area with green spaces and high-rise apartments.
According to the mayor's office, $29 million of the city's funding for the project would come from business license fees which were increased in the Birmingham Economic and Community Revitalization Ordinance. Those revenues were earmarked to service bonds for construction of a domed stadium, but bonds would not be issued until 2009. Other funding would come from money earmarked for schools in the Bell Plan (to be used for the athletic facilities), from an economic development fund created by a sales tax increase in the community revitalization ordinance, and from money budgeted to completed or inactive projects and previous allocations to the park.
On June 19, 2008, Langford proposed moving the race track to a site in northwest Birmingham off of Daniel Payne Drive, stating that it didn't fit into Fair Park's redevelopment plan. Demolition of the grandstand began on January 31, 2009 as Langford swung a wrecking ball at the start of a brief ceremony attended by city officials.
The 2010 Birmingham budget showed no appropriations to the project in fiscal years 2009 or 2010. It was later shown that the city had withdrawn money from the city's general fund balance in 2008 to finance preliminary work. Those amounts had been misleadingly factored into the operational budget as part of a "surplus" which turned out to be a deficit.
An August 2009 proposal from Fair Park Real Estate Partners to develop 10 acres of the park as a retail center anchored by CVS Pharmacy and Aldi was tabled by the Council's Administration, Budget and Finance Committee until the developers could produce a comprehensive plan for the site.
The city moved ahead with construction the Birmingham CrossPlex swimming and track facility.
A request to approve $7.5 million in contracts came before the City Council on September 29. Several councilors, including Steven Hoyt and Valerie Abbott expressed dismay that the only plans they'd seen were the animated renderings shown in early 2009, but after debate, the contracts were approved. Davis Architects was hired to design the complex. Brasfield & Gorrie is construction manager for the project.
Some public funding for improvements was delayed by a crisis in resolving the 2010 Birmingham budget. Tarver Consulting and Development applied for $4.2 million in tax-free Recovery Zone bonds to construct a hotel at the site.
In January 2011 Mayor William Bell suggested using part of a projected surplus in the 2011 Birmingham budget to fund the addition of a second swimming pool at the aquatics center. The pool would be used as a warm-up pool for larger competitions and as a community pool at other times.
In April 2011, as construction neared completion, the Alabama High School Athletic Association agreed to a five year contract to use the building for its state track meets and other events beginning in 2012.
- Faulk, Kent (February 25, 1987) "New vigor for western area: City plans to revitalize Fair Park, Five Points" Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (April 5, 2008) "Fair Park development includes Marriott, Foot Locker, grocery, Birmingham mayor says." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (April 8, 2008) "Birmingham council OKs Fair Park plans." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 20, 2008) "Mayor proposes moving Birmingham International Raceway from Fair Park, providing $1 million to help build new track." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 31, 2009) "Groundbreaking gets under way at Birmingham's Fair Park." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (August 18, 2009) "Birmingham council committee delays Fair Park developer pitch; asks for more details." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (September 22, 2009) "Birmingham mayor Larry Langford details spending" Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (September 30, 2009) "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford and Councilman Steven Hoyt spar over Fair Park project." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (March 9, 2010) "AHSAA proposes to lease Fair Park track." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (January 5, 2011) "Birmingham City Council approves spending for BBVA Compass Bowl, Fair Park swimming pool." Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (April 5, 2011) "Birmingham City Council to vote on high school track meets at Fair Park." Birmingham News