The Switch (formerly proposed as an Innovation District) is a multi-block area anchored by the Innovation Depot, spreading westward and connecting with the Civil Rights District and Fourth Avenue Business District to the north. Named to recall the 14th Street switchyard that shaped to some of the district's alleys and historic buildings, "The Switch" also represents a transformation of Birmingham's economic prospects from industry to technology.
The creation of and investment in such a district has been discussed for years. It was mentioned in Mayor William Bell's 2017 State of the City address and featured in the recommendations of the 2019 City Center Master Plan compiled by Stantec.
The marketing and promotion of "The Switch" as an innovation district was launched in early 2020 as a joint operation of REV Birmingham, UAB and the Birmingham Business Alliance. Other supporters include the Alabama Capital Network, Alabama Power Company, Birmingham Bound, Central Six, AlabamaWorks!, the City of Birmingham, Innovate Birmingham, Innovation Depot, Shipt, TechBirmingham, Urban Impact, and Venture for America.
In 2021 Williams Blackstock Architects created renderings of potential uses for the "Switch Trail", with open-spaces following the former rail lines between 14th Street North and the Innovation Depot. Their work was carried out in conjunction with REV Birmingham as part of the development of the Northwest Downtown Development Master Plan.
- Thornton, William (January 28, 2020) "Here's the new name of Birmingham’s downtown innovation district." The Birmingham News
- Swain, Sharron Mendel (April 5, 2021) "Williams Blackstock shares exciting vision for “The Switch Trail”." Bham Now