Birmingham, Alabama may not be the first place I think of in terms of Culinary Oriented Developments, however an exciting new mixed-use project is opening this fall in downtown Birmingham. This goes to show that COD’s are popping up all over the United States, and not in typical metro areas of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
The Pizitz is a 250,000+ SF mixed-use redevelopment of a former department store building that was originally constructed in 1923. Pizitz department store closed in 1988 and there have been efforts over the past several decades to redevelop the site, however various issues (financial, market) always came up. It may have been for the best, as developer Bayer Properties has invested $70 million into the revitalization and restoration of an iconic building in Birmingham.
There will be 143 multi-family apartments, office space, and ground-floor retail. The Culinary portion? Bayer has included 18,000 SF for a food hall and bar which is expected to open in winter 2017. While local food will be on display in the food hall, the developers also wanted to bring ethnic and world flavors to Birmingham. Consulting with a local food blog, there are plans to have Asian, Indian, Israeli, and African food stalls, providing a mix of tenants that the local market has shown demand for.
The food hall anchor will be a bar titled “The Louis” and will serve craft cocktails, local beer, and will even feature a milkshake bar for those who aren’t feeling boozy. This is one of the first Food Hall concepts that is anchored by a bar and it will be interesting to see how it is received.
REVBirmingham, a local P3 Economic Development Organization is also currently working with Bayer Properties to include a restaurant incubator in the project. REV looks to stimulate business growth and improve quality of life in Birmingham’s City Center and its Neighborhood Commercial Centers, and a restaurant incubator fits its mandate of creating new jobs for the local population. REV plans that the restaurant incubator will allow entrepreneurial start-ups the ability to try their culinary concept, all while learning how to properly run a business. The restaurant will have up to 6 months to establish themselves, before vacating the space for a new restaurant in the incubator. The thought process is that the vacating restaurant will either move into an available space in the Pizitz Food Hall, or into their own space in downtown Birmingham. I will make the assumption that rent at the restaurant incubator will be considerably lower than that of a typical space in the food hall.
Other uses in the Pizitz development will include several full-service restaurants and the Sidewalk Film Festival offices and theaters.