More investment in the core

A man with a vision

Just as BB’s China and Glassware, located in the former Blackwell Furniture Building at First Avenue North and 25th Street, has decided to close, local urbanite David Carrigan (above) has purchased the building and plans a sensitive, creative renovation. His business–William and Carrigan Stone–will move into a portion of the building, while a stone yard will be located across Morris avenue to the rear.

An otherwise forgotten corner about to come to life

As seen above (looking west on Morris with 25th Street in the foreground), the building has lots of old, warehouse-y character complete with arched openings, original steel frame windows, and a loading area. Carrigan has quite a bit of square feet to play with–and is currently considering potential mixed-uses. Bracketed by an abandoned freeway ramp to the east, and the railroad to the south, the property has lots of potential. The rooftop views are terrific.

I see a bright future

Inside, exposed brick walls, wood floors, timber columns and beams all hint at intriguing possibilities. There’s even a massive painted mural that, once cleaned, will be super-cool.

Moving forward

As Birmingham continues to struggle with limited financing available for private projects, it’s heartening to see a steady stream of small entrepreneurs like Carrigan continue to invest in the downtown core. We eagerly anticipate further news about this project.

11 responses to “More investment in the core

  1. Excellent news for a highly visible corner. That’s what’s great about the Loft District and other places with existing urban fabric — incrementalism works. No silver bullets (e.g. domes) needed.

    • Yes–depending on the mix of mixed-use here (I’m hoping for a night-time component), and then Lindsey perhaps leaving one of their buildings down there which gets filled with something complementary–and indeed we are incrementally creating a vibrant district with no silver bullets or massive new attractions. Just small, entrepreneurial steps adding up into something special!

  2. Kind of sad to see BB’s leave, as I’ve shopped there for years, but all things must come to an end. Any word on when they’ll be vacating?

  3. When is BB’s closing?

  4. I actually visited this store today around noon. Unfortunately, I was the only customer in the store, and I spent at least 30 minutes in there. While I hate to see another small business close its doors, I can honestly see why BB’s is closing. The demand just doesn’t seem to exist anymore…or at least not right now.

    • Our society has been so saturated with slick consumerism for so long–that this kind of environment is a tough sell to your typical customer these days. Quirky, un-slick, and offbeat is fine–if the owner has the right sensibility (Charm and What’s on 2nd are examples). Unfortunately BB’s just feels tired and forlorn–and indeed appears empty often. That being said, their type of business hasn’t so much been walk-up traffic–mostly delivery perhaps? Not sure. Regardless, still sad. I hope the new owner will rejuvenate this building with new businesses!

  5. I actually like having the stone yard there more than the furniture store. The mineral industry is a part of Birmingham’s history and stone mining is still a sizeable chunk of Alabama’s economy. Having a stonemason here preserves local character.
    People often have this sanitary view of a good cityscape as having hip condos next to some columned civic building by a bohemian coffee shop, but the best part of American cities is the industrial grit. I think we’ll also have to narrow a lot of the streets (and undo the one-ways) to get more people living there, but integrating light industrial into downtown is great for revitalizing it.
    It would be nice if they paved a sidewalk on that back road instead of that little parking lot, angled street parking would work just as well there anyway.
    Nice shot on the 2nd picture, btw. Where did you go to take that?

    • Well I agree that a more interesting downtown would have a true diversity of uses and businesses. Considering the yard is adjacent to an abandoned highway ramp and a railroad, this is a pretty good use for it. And the fact the historic building across the street will have a retail showroom and office for the stone company is also good. Finally, the fact the new owners are considering additional mixed-use for the building is another good thing.

      I hiked up the berm of the abandoned ramp to take that picture. Thanks.

  6. I love the comments about no silver bullets– Why don’t we suggest that this part of town be called “The Growing Baby Entrepreneurial District,” just to get it placed in people’s minds? Why don’t we get the City to adopt a master plan for the area and put out bids for improvements? We could have it torn up in no time, and failing in a little time after that.

    Seriously, though– the suggestion for a narrowed 41st Street and for angled parking is an excellent one. Bessemer never had to give up their angled parking– they made some kind of deal with ALDOT or something–and it’s as popular as ever. That would REALLY give a boost to vitality.

    I too am delighted that David C.and the stone company are coming to Morris Avenue,and agree that it’s historically appropriate.

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