Renovation Gives Alabama Landmark New Lease On Life

The Federal Reserve building in downtown Birmingham has been purchased for renovation and development by Harbert Realty Services. The $1.3 million purchase was motivated by a desire to capitalize upon the revitalization of downtown that has occurred with the influx of millennial homebuyers to the area. This landmark property was built 1926 to host the Atlanta Federal Reserve bank branch, and an annex was added later.

The property sat fallow for years until The Stewart Studio, LLC optioned the property. Robert and Susan Stewart, the company’s owners, had planned to renovate the property into retail space, an event venue, and a boutique hotel. When their option expired in April, Harbert Realty snapped up the building.

The possibility of turning the historic property into a mixed-use space is still in play. “All of those options are available – mixed-use, retail, office, hotel,” Tynes explained, adding that the Stewarts might still be involved in the process, because “We’re open to work with anybody who has great ideas and a good vision that aligns with ours.”

Harbert Realty has partnered with Capstone Real Estate Investments to finish developing the historic property. According to Harbert Realty vice president, Norman Tynes, “We have a branch bank who has already approached us about this (building) – the 1927 building in particular.” The historic stature of the property means that the redevelopment is carefully proceeding according to Alabama Historic Commission standards.

Harbert Realty expects that Alabama’s historic redevelopment tax credits will aid in redeveloping the property. Of the Commission’s involvement, Tynes says, “They have guidelines we have to adhere to, and we’ve got to submit our vision in hopes that they agree with our vision.”

Harbert Realty is already well underway to making their vision a reality. Demolition crews have already torn the interior completely down, leaving a structurally sound historic shell.  “The options are wide open,” says Tynes, “It’s like a clean, new canvass.” Regardless of the final plans, the building’s electrical, mechanical, and plumbing infrastructure will be completely modernized to meet the demands of 21st-century tenants. Nonetheless, a few of the interior surface features will remain, because “You can’t replicate [them] and have it be remotely cost-effective.”

Joel Blackstock with Williams Blackstock are the architects of record for this ambitious project. Architectural renderings of the new building will be available within the next month.


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