Vestavia Hills City Center

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The Vestavia Hills City Center is a 450,000 square-foot shopping center on the west side of U. S. Highway 31 at its intersection with Kentucky Avenue in Vestavia Hills. It was created by redeveloping the existing Vestavia Mall and Vestavia Shopping Center and constructing a new strip shopping center to the south and a Vestavia 10 cinema multiplex to the west.

The $45 million project was developed by AIG Baker Shopping Center Properties. It opened in phases, beginning with a redevelopment of the existing shopping center, anchored by Stein Mart. The project won a "Deal of the Year" award in 2002 from Birmingham Business Journal. The remainder of the center opened in 2003 with the central portion anchored by the Rave Motion Pictures cinema and the southern section anchored by Publix Supermarket.

The city of Vestavia Hills contributed $5 million toward infrastructure improvements for the redevelopment. The pedestrian-friendly nature of the central "leisure center" was seen as complementing the city's Regional Walkways Master Plan.

The design of the central part of the development is unusual in that it incorporates part of the original mall structure, including its covered parking areas, which are connected to a landscaped open-air pedestrian mall above by stairs, elevators and escalators. The southern end of the multi-level building has balconies overlooking Canyon Road while the northern row of shops has above-grade parking which is accessed from Kentucky Avenue. The primary entrance drive continues the main axis of the pedestrian mall toward the highway, while the opposite end connects to the cinema multiplex via open-air escalators.

The potential for the center to become a destination for shopping and dining promised increased sales tax revenues for the city. And in fact, tax collections from the center have increased every year from $137,481 in 2001 to $1,919,387 in 2007.1.

The success of the Vestavia Hills City Center has been tempered by high turnover and vacancy rates, especially in the pedestrian-focussed central section. AIG Baker's vision included white-tablecloth restaurants which would help the center attract after-hours users. Arman DeLorenz, a local restauranteur was recruited to the project and owned Nonna Rose and Brazil before both closed in 2006. Though AIG Baker agreed not to collect rent until the restaurants were profitable, DeLorenz charged that the owners had been slow to address maintenance problems and had done a poor job of marketing the shopping center, hastening their demise.

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[edit] Bankruptcy

BBVA Compass Bank foreclosed on the development in 2010. Negotiations with Propst Properties, holder of the $40 million note, failed to result in a deal. AIG Baker Vestavia LLC, the holding company, subsequently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The center's debts were purchased in October for $33.5 million by the San Diego, California-based Excel Trust, leaving AIG Baker in control of management and leasing.

Meanwhile, Alex Baker, CEO of AIG Baker, leased the 5,000 square-foot spot formerly housing May Furniture as the site of a corporate office for his Blackwater Management Group. Other former retail slots may also be marketed for office use.

[edit] Tenants

[edit] Former Vestavia Shopping Center

[edit] Former Vestavia Mall

[edit] Publix strip

[edit] Notes

  1. Singleton - October 15, 2008

[edit] References

  • Nicholson, Gilbert (March 7, 2003) "Vestavia shopping center gets $45 million makeover." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Wilkinson, Kaija (October 14, 2005) "Vestavia Hills City Center accentuates the positive." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Wilkinson, Kaija (June 23, 2006) "New tenants boost Vestavia Hills City Center." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Singleton, William C. III (October 15, 2008) "Tax revenues up, but vacancies persist." Birmingham News
  • Cooper, Lauren B. (April 27, 2010) "AIG Baker puts Vestavia Hills City Center in bankruptcy." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Cooper, Lauren B. (October 15, 2010) "Excel Trust buys loan on Vestavia City Center for $33.5M." Birmingham Business Journal

[edit] External links

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