Uptown (originally developed as The Marketplace) is a hotel and entertainment district adjacent to the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in downtown Birmingham. The $70 million project was developed by National Ventures Group LLC of Atlanta, Georgia with $57 million in public bonds issued by the BJCC authority and backed by an extension of the city's existing 14% lodging tax, with no additional incentives from the city. In October 2010 the Birmingham City Council approved a measure to extend the city's 3% lodging tax for 30 years to help fund the project.
The project includes a 303-room Westin Birmingham at the Marketplace hotel with a Todd English P.U.B. restaurant and Octane coffee shop, and space for as many as 20 restaurants, nightclubs, retailers and other tenants. The 10-story hotel is owned and operated by the BJCC through its existing contract with Starwood Hotels, operator of the Sheraton Birmingham. The two hotels share a back-office.
The architect for the hotel was Rabun Rasche Rector & Reece of Atlanta in association with Birmingham's NGH Group. Keith Design of Birmingham designed the entertainment district. Brasfield & Gorrie was lead contractor, along with minority-owned partners A. G. Gaston Construction and Monumental Construction. At Bell's suggestion, the design of the hotel was tweaked to provide more of what he termed a "wow factor".
Ground was broken on January 24, 2011. Design approval was granted in April of that year, and the hotel opened on January 13, 2013, followed by the entertainment district tenants. The project was attained Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) "silver" certification as recognized by the U. S. Green Building Council
In November 2011 Bayer Properties announced that the 60,622-square-foot entertainment district could connect to the BJCC and Railroad Park by "green ways" or bike paths. The district itself would cost $15-20 million to build and would feature rooftop bars and other attractions.
On March 17, 2015 the Birmingham City Council voted to allow the Uptown district, including the BJCC, to become the city's first "entertainment district" with visitors allowed to carry drinks outside.
In late 2016 TopGolf began developing a recreational and entertainment venue adjacent to Uptown.
- Westin Birmingham (opened February 14, 2013)
- North building
- South building
- Installation at Uptown
- SARCOR Engineering (late 2016-)
- The Forge (BJCC), an unbuilt proposal for the same site
- DeButts, Jimmy (March 26, 2010) "Lodging tax extension eyed to spur entertainment district." Birmingham Business Journal
- Tomberlin, Michael (May 2, 2010) "$70 million hotel, retail plan proposed near Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (May 10, 2010) "Birmingham Mayor William Bell to unveil hotel, retail BJCC plans." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (June 9, 2010) "Developer shows new sketches of proposed Westin Hotel." The Birmingham News
- Bryant, Joseph D. (October 19, 2010) "Birmingham City Council approves hotel funding, gives initial approval on stadium." The Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (January 5, 2011) "Contractors named for Birmingham entertainment district hotel." The Birmingham News
- Williams, Roy L. (January 23, 2011) "New hotel design adds 'wow' factor to Westin." The Birmingham News
- Stewart, Sherrel (January 24, 2011) "Stage set for groundbreaking for hotel, entertainment center." The Birmingham News
- Tomberline, Michael (April 6, 2011) "Birmingham design panel approves West Hotel and entertainment district project." The Birmingham News
- Poe, Ryan (November 15, 2011) "Bayer provides more details on entertainment district." Birmingham Business Journal
- Carlton, Bob (August 11, 2014) "Cantina Laredo Mexican restaurant will open Aug. 19 in Birmingham's Uptown entertainment district." The Birmingham News
- Natta, Andre (March 17, 2015) "Uptown becomes Birmingham’s first open container district" The Terminal