Federal Reserve tower
The Federal Reserve tower was a proposed office, hotel and retail development to be built adjacent to the Federal Reserve Building in downtown Birmingham. The project was announced on March 18, 2006 by Savannah, Georgia-based Melaver Inc. Over the next few years estimates of the total cost of the development ranged from $40 to $113 million.
Melaver purchased the vacant Federal Reserve building and adjacent parking lots for $3.12 million and began planning to renovate the historic banking lobby as a restaurant, coffee shop and bar. Meanwhile the company commissioned preliminary designs for a new office/hotel tower on an adjacent surface parking lot.
Preliminary plans were revealed at a breakfast meeting of Operation New Birmingham on June 22, 2006. As described then, project would have encompassed 80,000 square feet of commercial space in the renovated buildings and 175,000 square feet of new space in the 14-story tower, including a 34,000 square foot hotel on the top three floors and a 270-car underground parking deck. Berkebile Nelson Immenschuh McDowell Architects of Kansas City, Missouri was the lead architect and Brasfield & Gorrie was selected as general contractor.
According to Colin Coyne, chief operating officer of Melaver, the developers would "settle for nothing less than a building of national significance." He went on to say that the project would seek LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council and through innovation in design it hoped to attract tenants despite the slacking downtown office market.
In December of that year Coral Springs, Florida-based Vantage Hospitality Group announced that it would open a 200-room luxury hotel in the top eight floors of the tower, which would then be 18-stories tall. In keeping with the progressive concept for the project, the company planned to recruit from Workshops Inc. and to foster employee loyalty by offering money-managing advice and transportation to and from work.
In August 2008 Melaver elected to close its Birmingham office to save on overhead. Coyne decided to leave the company and remain in town, founding his own Coyne Group to continue efforts to develop the tower project. He still expressed expectation of being able to secure financing for the project, but in early 2010 Melaver listed the still-unredeveloped properties for sale.
- Tomberlin, Michael (March 18, 2006) "$40 Million downtown project set". Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (June 18, 2006) "'Cutting edge' plan for Reserve". Birmingham News
- Tomberlin, Michael (December 21, 2006) "Downtown tower plan boasts 'organic' hotel" Birmingham News
- Cooper, Lauren B. (February 2, 2007) "Downtown project seen as catalyst for 'green' efforts." Birmingham News
- Cooper, Lauren B. (August 22, 2008) "Fed Reserve plan hits speed bump." Birmingham Business Journal
- Kent, Dawn (February 17, 2010) "Melaver puts old Federal Reserve property on selling block." Birmingham News