Bayer Properties, in association with Wisznia Architecture & Development of New Orleans and Baton Rouge-based Stonehenge Capital, are finally beginning their much-anticipated renovation of the historic Pizitz building in downtown Birmingham. Redevelopment of the 251,210-square-foot building will cost an estimated $66 million. This project is set to transform the building into six floors of mixed-use residential and commercial retail space. There will be 143 multifamily units and office space on the mezzanine level. A public urban market will occupy much of the ground floor, with conventional retail taking up the rest. The seven-story parking garage attached to the building will also be redeveloped.
It is expected that redevelopment of the Pizitz, which was constructed in 1923, will catalyze the redevelopment of the city center while maintaining the volume of redevelopment happening on Second Avenue North. The area has seen many historic renovations, redevelopments, and new tenants in recent years, but the Pizitz project is the crowning achievement in the effort to revitalize downtown.
In an interview with the BBJ, Bayer principal David Silverstein was quoted as saying, “We’re extremely excited for being able to start the Pizitz project … It’s a great project for our company, but most importantly, it’s an even more important project for the revitalization that’s ongoing in downtown Birmingham.” This week’s efforts will focus on demolition of the annex, which is not part of the historic original structure.
The Pizitz, located at 1821 Second Ave. N. at 19th Street, was purchased by Bayer a decade ago. In that time, the building has been the subject of numerous redevelopment proposals. According to Bayer CEO Jeffrey Bayer, the time is now right for the project to proceed. “When we acquired the Pizitz Building and parking deck, we believed that the size of the property was of a scale that, when appropriate for a redevelopment, it would have a profound impact on the future of the central business district,” he says, “That time has now arrived, and we are thrilled to be a part of this gentrification.”
In fall of 2014, Bayer went public with the building’s plans and finalized agreements on funding and initial physical alterations to the property. The financial arrangements came together last week through the assistance of the city of Birmingham, Birmingham’s Highland Commercial Mortgage, US Bank Community Development Corp., Iberia Bank, the Birmingham and Atlanta offices of the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, National New Markets Fund LLC, and ServisFirst Bank. Last March, the city agreed to provide $1.9 million for enhancements around the building and back Bayer properties on a $3.2 million Section 108 loan. “We appreciate the support of Mayor (William) Bell, the Birmingham City Council, our financial partners, and the community without which this project could not have happened,” says Silverstein, “[and] we’re looking forward to a new neighborhood emerging in 2016.”
Wisznia Architecture & Redevelopment has subcontracted with Birmingham’s own KPS to provide on-site architect support services. Brasfield & Gorrie will serve as the general contractors on the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2016.