Tag Archives: Rogue Tavern

Reality of perception

Madam, may I escort you to your vehicle?

The City Action Partnership (CAP) is the uniformed security force which patrols a section of downtown Birmingham, in cooperation with the Police Department. Due in large part to their effort, crime within their service area is down 67% compared to 1995 (when CAP was formed); their area is safer (in terms of violent crimes) than the wealthy suburbs of Vestavia Hills or Mountain Brook. Property owners within the CAP district pay $1 for every $1000 of assessed value to fund the non-profit organization; besides security patrols, the CAP guys provide escort, tire-changing, left-the-key-in-the-car door opening, and other  great services to any worker, resident, or visitor in the district–free of charge. Modeled on similar security forces in other US cities (pretty much every major city has this sort of thing), CAP feels like a win-win for everyone downtown. Levels of security have not only objectively increased, but the perception of security (often even more important than the reality) has increased dramatically in surveys of people’s opinion of downtown.

Smart move to expand the range of these handy trucks

When CAP was formed, its district was aligned with major corporate and governmental entities to primarily serve a 9-5 business community (see the map of the current district). Downtown has changed in the last 15 years–and with thousands of new residents calling it home, CAP is proposing to increase its boundaries to better serve these new residents, and the businesses that have accompanied them. The new expansion would move east to add about 8 square blocks to the exiting 80-plus. Despite the relatively small size, it’s been hard to line up support because the effort involves obtaining consent of individual condo owners and small landholders, which is very time-consuming. At this point, CAP has collected support representing 60% of total expansion area land value, with the goal being 67% (as mandated by law). How to get the remaining 7%? There are 4 major holdouts, briefly examined below.

Sidebar: Is the use/parking of Lindsey golf carts really kosher on downtown sidewalks?

First, Lindsey Furniture, the office furniture business which owns numerous properties downtown, including in the 2200 block of First Avenue North, above. In one sense the most understandable of the holdouts–they are a conventional, 9-5 business–still, their employees and customers would benefit from CAP services.

The tenants say yes, but the owner says no

Next is Crook Realty, again the owner of numerous downtown properties which house popular destinations in the expansion district such as Pale Eddie’s and Rogue Tavern, above. While all of the tenants have said “yes” to wanting CAP service–a no-brainer for keeping their late-night patrons feeling secure and happy–thus far the landlord has said no.

Maybe the thinking will turn

Residents would ostensibly benefit the most from CAP services–they are frequent users of streets and sidewalks in the area, they are walking their dogs in the evening, etc. Oddly, the final two major holdouts both have ties to the residential community–the first being the Ticheli family, which owns properties in the area, and developed the Gallery Lofts, above (seen in the 200 block of 24th Street North).

Bucking the tide, for now

The Avenues, a rental apartment property shown above, was developed by the Morrow family (2300 block of First Avenue North). So far they’ve not supported a “yes” for expansion. Understanding all the benefits to their residents will hopefully change their minds.

A positive response from any two of the above four would put CAP over the 67% threshold. The relatively small amount of money required to fund the expansion is well worth the increase in security–real and perceived–as well as all the other services that come with it. CAP, and volunteers working with them, would be very appreciative if these major holdouts came around, as would the rest of us who’ve voted “yes” to support this great initiative (the other remaining holdouts are very small, often without published phone numbers or other info, so it would be much more difficult to reach the threshold that way). Onward and upward with increased CAP coverage–integral to a more vibrant city center!

[thanks to CAP for the escort image]

A publican, a grocer, and a chef

A high gravity pour coming soon

The Central City Neighborhood Association approved lots of Liquor Licenses today (all approvals are contingent on final approval of both the Public Safety Committee and the City Council).

First off was Pale Eddie’s Pour House, to be located in the former Shift Work space directly east of What’s on 2nd (Second Avenue North between 23rd and 24th streets).  The neighborhood decided to adopt a new procedure, asking this bar (and all future applicants) to sign a “Good Neighbor Agreement” chiefly to prevent violations of the City Noise Ordinance. This has become a problem with the Rogue Tavern, as well as some other bars downtown. The owners seemed eager to do what it takes to satisfy those residents who may appreciate a toddy at 9 PM, but not necessarily a loud band amplified into their bedroom at 1 AM. A large selection of gourmet and high gravity beers will be available, a patio will be out back, and they hope to be open by August.

Walking across the street for a bottle of milk

Next up: Mamanoes, a new grocery and convenience store opening in the former Gypsy Market space. Antonio Boyd, the owner, has signed a lease and expects to be open by mid-June. He will sell Mr. P’s meats and deli sandwiches, a full selection of wines and beers, grocery staples, and ice cream. The neighbors seems especially appreciative of the ice cream. Boyd has experience at Whole Foods in Rockville, MD and we are all eager to see the paper come off the storefront to reveal an essential neighborhood service.

I was surprised at some disapproval voiced in the room regarding the grocer’s plan to sell single beers. Neighbors stated that such a policy encouraged homeless, recovering alcoholics, and other unfortunates to patronize a store–thereby annoying other customers. Others, however, stressed that it’s customary for gourmet beers to often be “split” from their six-packs and sold individually, for much higher prices than Colt 45, I would guess. So, in the end, Boyd will sell single beers at his discretion (there is no law saying he can’t, by the way).

About to open for dinner

Finally, the neighborhood gave the nod to favorite local coffee shop Urban Standard, which plans to start serving a new dinner menu–with beer and wine–in the near future. I’m sure that I’m not alone wondering what culinary treats Chef Meloy has in store.

A new pub, a new grocery, and dinner next door. I’ll drink to that.