A few months back we discussed the condition of Brother Bryan (formerly Magnolia) Park which lies just a block east of the fountain at Five Points South commercial center. We return to the park today for a brief look at the sudden demolition of the former Kingsley Apartments at the important NE corner of Richard Arrington Blvd. and 10th Avenue South (above). This 1920’s-era apartment building was practically the last vestige of the original residential neighborhood that surrounded the now forlorn park.
As the neighborhood transformed from upper-income housing with some local shops to a destination, mixed-use district with offices and nightlife, poor design decisions were made around this park, including the Building Trades Tower (above), which literally turns a blank 12-story wall to what would otherwise be a prime urban vista.
In a related move, Magnolia Office Park (above, built 1966) sought to bring “suburban” amenities to this part of town–lots of on-site parking, modern floor plates–and absolutely no ground floor retail or commercial space. In fact, a grim parking garage stares out at the park across the street. What a missed opportunity that was.
Across 10th Avenue South from the park is this medical office building (above) that–while we can appreciate its period Mad Men-ish architecture–again turns a mainly blank face to the park. Worse, the few large historic houses immediately to the east (to the right in the photo) have in the last few years all been demolished due to fires or for other reasons. Vacant land is all that’s left. With the apartments directly west just demolished, this building is the sole mass facing the park from the north side. Which is depressing, but it could also be an opportunity: what if UAB (whose affiliate Southern Research Institute has a campus just north of here) partnered with the City and private developers to completely re-imagine the park and its surroundings as mixed-use office, retail, and housing to complement Five Points South and the campus?
This poor park and its edges have suffered enough.
I hadn’t realized they were tearing down those apartments– what a shame! Do we know by whom and why? I always suspect Southern Research, which owns nearly all the land around there except for Quinlan– and now, of course, they own that too. A friend of mine suspects that those Town of Highland houses along Quinlan Avenue (9th Avenue South) were burned down on purpose. Wonder what’s going on . . .
I also hadn’t registered, all together, the effect of all those ghastly ’60s and ’70s buildings. Trades tower is awful, of course, and so huge.
I suspect SRI must be behind the demolition–but don’t recall seeing anything announced. Maybe someone else knows the answer…I am not a conspiracy theorist–but it was at the very least an unfortunate coincidence that a number of structures all burned within a short amount of time. Thanks.
I would not be suprised if the two lovely old there were burned on purpose… and now the Kingsly Apts. gone .. in a matter of moments.. If Southern Reserch is eating up this area… surley UAB has its knife and fork readied to gobble up S. R.. i’ll be interested to see where this goes…
Those houses were being renovated when they burned. That makes the fire even more unfortunate. .
Indeed. Thanks for that info.
Have you ever seen a episode of The Boondocks called “The Itis”? It is a brilliant, conspiratorial, and humorous look at development. I think it fits this park well.
I have not, but need to find that. Thanks.
Jeremy C. Erdreich, AIA, LEED AP Erdreich Architecture, PC 2332 Second Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203 tel 205.322.1914 fax 205.322.1925 http://www.erdreicharchitecture.com