Checking in (4)

Grande Dame

The Thomas Jefferson Hotel (pictured above, corner of 17th Street North and 2nd Avenue) has yet another chance for salvation due to the formation of a non-profit dedicated to stabilizing and restoring the 1929 structure to its former glory.Thomas Jefferson Tower, Inc. plans to acquire the building, stabilize it–and then work hard to put a viable restoration plan together.

This hotel opened within months of the Great Depression, and is a symbol of the last days of heady 1920’s optimism that had engulfed Birmingham real estate. It’s height and adornment testify to the belief that the City’s growth would extend inexorably westward; the Depression put a stop to such growth, and the hotel suffered somewhat from its relative isolation (in comparison to the Tutwiler Hotel, for instance).

Needs some work

The mix of larger main levels (with retail, restaurant, and ballrooms) and smaller upper floor plates means a mixed-use development with hotel, meeting, living, and retail/restaurant spaces could work well. The location is much more desirable than even a few years ago: the Phoenix Building lofts is across the street, Innovation Depot a block away, Railroad Park a few blocks south, and planning for bike lanes/revitalized Civil Rights district/bike-pedestrian bridge all within a few minutes’ walk. This building is also very prominent on the near skyline from the new Baron’s baseball park under construction. Yes, it will be a lot of work (George Wallace Suite, above)—but  a lot of other cities would kill to have such a fine piece of architecture to restore. They don’t build them like this anymore.

A certain elegance

Please consider supporting this effort by signing up for the non-profit’s website, and following their twitter feed. The time is right to help make this project happen!

[thanks to dystopos for the exterior pic; istvan s. for the suite; naamanfletcher for the detail]

10 responses to “Checking in (4)

  1. Speaking of renewed life in this area can you comment on the work that’s recently started on the building attached to the Phoenix facing 2nd Ave?

    • Yes–we are doing selective demo to the faade to expose the original window openings, and give us more information for a renovation we are planning. Too soon to announce anything yet, but we are working hard! Thanks.

  2. Jeremy,

    I know you’re moving your office HQ, might this or the Pizitz building be a good location for you if the projects can get off the ground?

  3. If they give any promotional tours of the building let me know!

  4. Colin Alexander

    This is wonderful news! I remain optimistic about this building and the surrounding neighborhood. Hopefully this will help both to reach their potential!

    • In many ways this building is as important as Pizitz–those two are the last two truly significant structures that remain vacant in this area. If both are successfully renovated, it would be a tremendous boost to the smaller properties that need renovation as well. Thanks.

  5. Whats happening with the Pizitz? We have watched as the sidewalk covering was rebuilt with new signage and an updated opening (2012, whatever that means) but now the signage has been removed and there is no new work going on. I hope this project has not fallen through.

    I drive past the Jefferson everyday and a renovation will be an answer to a prayer.

    • Pizitz, as we understand it, is undergoing renewed effort to renovate. The sidewalk protection was replaced due to age. The signage went back up–but I’m guessing (hoping) was taken down to be replaced by new signage advertising the revamped project with a new completion date.

      As for Jefferson, thank you for your support. There are still many challenges but we are doing our best to work through them!

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