Burger-Phillips Building

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Burger-Phillips building in 1947. Courtesy BPL Archives

The Crittenden Building or Burger-Phillips building is a 6-story, 56,000 square-foot building located at 1914 3rd Avenue North, on Block 73 in downtown Birmingham.

Constructed in 1924, the brick, limestone and terra-cotta building originally housed the Oster Brothers Furniture store. It was designed by Harry Wheelock and constructed for $1,250,000.

In 1933 it was bought by the Burger-Phillips department store, which had previously occupied a 3-story building next door as well as a pair of buildings in 2nd Avenue North. The exterior entrance was renovated at that time in an Art-Deco style. The Atlanta, Georgia-based firm of Taylor, Thompson & Smulski partnered with Miller, Martin & Lewis for the design of the new art-deco façade. The store was one of the first in the south to have automatic entrance doors. The main floor is surfaced with terrazzo while the upper floors are polished concrete.

During the 1940s the vertical sign on the front of the building was modified to read "Buy War Bonds" instead of "Burger-Phillips". The business closed in 1975.

In 1979 the entire "Block 73", including the Burger-Phillips building, was the subject of a redevelopment proposal commissioned by Operation New Birmingham which proposed various options, including demolition. In the 1980s a renovation by architect Pedro Costa and investor Nelson Head transformed the retail building for office use. Two smaller buildings (including the original Burger-Phillips store) were demolished and a glass-and-steel atrium was built connecting it to the Kress Building on the corner of 19th Street North. The combined project, with 140,000 square feet of Class B office space, was dubbed the Burger-Phillips Centre (later renamed the Atrium Center).

The Crittenden Building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on December 30, 1981.

In the 1990s the still-largely-vacant project was leased by the General Services Administration to house offices of the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense and the Department of Justice. From 2002 to 2006 the building housed the Birmingham offices of the United States Department of Homeland Security. Younan Properties of Los Angeles purchased the complex in May 2002 and performed some interior renovations before placing it back on the market.

In 2003 the law firm of Gordon Silberman Wiggins & Childs purchased the complex for $2.1 million and made plans to relocate their offices from the SouthTrust Tower to the Kress building. At the time of the sale, other tenants included the Goldberg & Associates law firm, Summerfest Cabaret Theatre and BancorpSouth.

Between 2007 and 2008 a $6.8 million renovation of the building transformed the upper floors into 35 one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 700 to 1,390 square feet. The conversion was undertaken by the Carruthers Real Estate Company with architectural plans from a collaboration between Emory Kirkwood & Associates and KPS Group. Golden Construction performed the work.

The 8,000 square-foot ground floor remained vacant until late 2013 when produce market/café Freshfully and fashion retailer Harold & MOD jointly occupied it as a "pop-up" store for REV Birmingham's "REVIVE" event downtown. The two businesses elected afterward to continue leasing the space, though the arrangement only lasted a short while as the boutique moved to 1st Avenue North and Freshfully closed in January 2014.

As the five-year tax credit moratorium on selling the building lapsed, Carruthers stopped renewing leases and began converting the apartments into condominiums. By March 2015 five units had been sold and two more were under contract.

In 2024 Tessa Commercial Real Estate and Opportunity Alabama's OPAL Fund jointly redeveloped the ground floor as office space.


  • McPhillips, Louis J. (November 13, 1980) "Crittenden Building" National Register of Historic Places nomination form - accessed September 16, 2015
  • Mahoney, Ryan (May 23, 2003) "Law firm buys Burger Phillips Centre." Birmingham Business Journal
  • "Homeland Security Office in Birmingham leaving Burger-Phillips." (August 11, 2006) Birmingham Business Journal
  • Kent, Dawn (February 7, 2008) "Former high-end store to convert to lofts, retail." The Birmingham News
  • Cooper, Lauren B. (July 14, 2008) "Renovations to Burger-Phillips building downtown set for August completion." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Cooper, Lauren B. (September 4, 2008) "Renovation of Burger-Phillips building complete." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Diel, Stan (October 24, 2013) "Pop-up project pays dividends: Temporary Birmingham stores to become permanent." The Birmingham News
  • Davis, Bryan (March 17, 2015) "Burger-Phillips building being converted from apartments to condos." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Watson, Nathan (May 7, 2024) "OPAL announces redevelopment of historic Burger-Phillips Building ground floor." Bham Now