The 600

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AT&T City Center, October 2010

The 600 (formerly the South Central Bell Building, BellSouth Building, BellSouth City Center and AT&T City Center) is a 390-foot-tall, 30-story building located on the southern half of Block 35, at 600 19th Street North and the corner of 6th Avenue North.

Construction of the tower commenced in 1968 and was complete by 1971. It was designed by Der Scutt of the New York architectural firm of Kahn & Jacobs, with Warren Knight & Davis serving as the local architect of record. The strikingly modern design of the tower features horizontal bands of dark pearl granite and glass contrasting with a pair of vertical white marble pylons and a two-story white marble top. The tower is rotated 45 degrees relative to the street grid in a departure from the typical building orientation in downtown Birmingham.

The interior lobby is noted for a large, metallic mobile designed by Lin Emery of New Orleans and a 70-foot mosaic wall along the corridor between the lobby and adjacent seven-story, 650-car parking deck. The skyscraper was constructed by the Henry C. Beck Company of Atlanta, Georgia. Its structural frame contains 8,350 tons of steel.

With 688,000 square feet of leasable space, it was Birmingham's largest office building, and is virtually tied with the Regions Center as the city's third-tallest skyscraper. Until 2018 it served primarily as corporate office space for South Central Bell and its successors.

Originally only the Bell System logo adorned the top band of the tower. In the 1990s the BellSouth logo was added. In June 2007, the BellSouth signage was replaced with the AT&T wordmark and four "globe" logos, each sixteen feet in diameter.

BellSouth City Center, March 2007

In 1994, an $80 million asbestos cleanup and renovation of the building commenced after BellSouth officials decided to consolidate local operations downtown instead of building new elsewhere. The project was designed by Giattina Fisher Aycock and completed, with Brasfield & Gorrie as general contractor, on April 1, 1998. The renovation was recognized by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy as the first project in the state to earn an "Energy Star Label for Buildings".

On July 15, 1998, the name of the tower was officially changed from the BellSouth Building to BellSouth City Center to differentiate it from the BellSouth campus at the Colonnade. On June 21, 2007, the tower was officially renamed AT&T City Center to reflect the 2006 purchase of BellSouth by AT&T. Four 16-foot diameter AT&T "globe" logos were installed on the roof parapet.

In December 2013 AT&T put 252,000 square feet of office space on floors 16-27 up for lease. The tower was then owned and leased by J. P. Morgan Chase. By 2017 the building, which had once housed as many as 2,000 South Central Bell employees, was used by only about 300 workers. That April, AT&T announced that the remaining workers would be relocated either to the AT&T Data Center in Hoover or to other facilities before the company's lease ended in March 2018.

In March 2018 the building was purchased by "600 North 19th Street LLC" of Stamford, Connecticut for $29.25 million. In November of the same year, it was sold to "VCP City Center" a joint venture of Varden Capital Properties of Atlanta, Georgia and Tellus Partners of Norcross, Georgia, for $31 million.

The new owners anticipate redeveloping the building with 435 luxury apartment and condominium units. The project would include some ground-floor retail tenant space along with a fitness center, rooftop terrace and outdoor plaza for residents. As part of their efforts to secure Historic Preservation Tax Credits, the owners successfully submitted the building for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

References

  • Williams, Roy L. (November 4, 1997) "BellSouth renovation, asbestos cleanup work now ahead of schedule." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (July 15, 1998) "Skyline signature building renamed BellSouth City Center." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (August 23, 1999) "BellSouth to receive EPA recognition for energy-saving building." The Birmingham News
  • McCauley, Charles R. (June 22, 2007) "AT&T logo goes up downtown." The Birmingham News
  • Tomberlin, Michael (December 14, 2013) "AT&T City Center puts 12 stories, 252,000 square feet on Birmingham's office market." The Birmingham News
  • Poe, Kelly (April 25, 2017) "AT&T moving all employees out of the City Center building by March 2018." The Birmingham News
  • Godwin, Brent (November 7, 2018) "Vacant downtown skyscraper sold to developer with mixed-use plans." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Van der Bijl, Hanno (October 21, 2020) "New details emerge about redevelopment of former AT&T City Center." Birmingham Business Journal

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