One of my favorite childhood memories was visiting my dad in his office downtown. The buildings were majestic and commanding, and all the authoritative players in the city were located within a six-block radius of each other. I can remember walking on 20th street during lunch and the crowds filling the numerous lunch spots that hosted the power meetings of the day. The city center was alive and filled with vibrancy.
Unfortunately, a series of events caused the city to change its course in the 80s. A transformation in city government caused scared people to lose faith in their city, and a mass exodus to the suburbs occurred. I got into the commercial real estate business in 1989 at the peak of the exodus, and I witnessed firsthand the once fully occupied buildings becoming completely vacant. While it was exciting to see the Hwy 280 and I?65 corridors boom with new developments, it came at a cost of the deterioration of our city’s core business district. Any deals that were made downtown were done because the assets were priced at cents on the dollar.
Fast forward to today. The boom on Hwy 280 seems small compared to the influx of development occurring in the city center. UAB’s expansion has signaled to the private sector that our city’s core is not going away; moreover, it is going to be at the epicenter of a rebirth of our city.
If you had told me five years ago that our company would be located downtown, and that I would eventually live downtown, I would have bet you every dollar I had against the notion. Well, I am glad I didn’t make that bet. Now there’s a sizzling electric energy in our downtown area. Our firm is proud to be a part of this rebirth. We are a new player to the area, and we hold the utmost esteem for long–time proponents of downtown like John Lauriello, who as the song goes, “was country, when country wasn’t cool.”
To help you feel proud of what our area leaders, Mayor Bell, and entrepreneurs are doing, I decided to capture all of the excitement in detail in the PDF linked below. We feel very blessed to be part of a great city with such talented and resilient people!
Len Shannon III, CCIM