Downtown Birmingham continues to grow, and a new project called 20 Midtown is arriving at the end of the year.
20 Midtown will consist of two buildings that include Publix, Starbucks, Chipotle, AT&T, offices, apartments and a parking garage. 20 Midtown will be located at 20th Street South and 3rd Avenue.
Original planning for a Publix in Birmingham began in 2006. Eventually enough people and units were in place for the project to get approved in April 2014.
Dick Schmalz, president of RGS Properties, said it was apparent downtown needed stores for people.
“Publix will be about 30,000 square feet with an expanded deli inside. The total size of the 20 Midtown project will be about 204,000 square feet with a cost of about $140 million,” said Schmalz.
Schmalz said that this Publix will be a “unique store” because it is adapted to the urban site.
“20 Midtown will have a positive impact on those who are deciding to live downtown, along with the $1 billion worth of other projects currently going on,” said Schmalz.
Schmalz said people will be more comfortable living downtown with a popular grocery store and retail options.
“I see 20 Midtown attracting more restaurants and stores to the Birmingham area. These factors will act as a snowball effect and bring upon another factor to grow the retail market,” said Schmalz.
Schmalz said he sees 20 Midtown as an opportunity for smaller businesses to open, due to the growing community.
Schmalz said the people leasing the apartments range widely in age from 18 to 70 years old.
“20 Midtown is not just great for the people that live downtown, but also for those who live in suburbs and commute downtown every day,” said Schmalz.
Schmalz said that he sees Birmingham changing for the better and in addition to the urban area coming back, neighborhoods continue to redevelop.
Tammy Cohen of Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds is the architect in charge of the 20 Midtown project.
Cohen described the layout of Publix as the main store being the base with parking on top and apartment units above.
Starbucks, Chipotle, AT&T, and office space will be in a separate building across the street.
Cohen said there will be 84 apartment units in the Publix building and 36 units above Starbucks.
Cohen said this will make it convenient for those who want to be near Publix, restaurants, and retail stores.
“Before 20 Midtown, there were not many prior options for shopping. This development will be in walking or bicycle distance for people,” Cohen said. “This makes it easy for people to stop and pick up groceries on the way home from work.”
Cohen said that while younger people are moving to 20 Midtown, older people are selling their homes and moving there because it is closer to stores and requires less maintenance.
University of Alabama student Brooks Bell, 23, has lived in Birmingham for 19 years. Bell said he is aware of the upcoming 20 Midtown development and other projects in the community.
“Personally in the past the only reason I had for going downtown was to attend UAB football games at the old Legion Field and going to bars,” said Bell.
Bell said, “I think 20 Midtown will be great for people downtown and provide a lot more options than the past which was mostly bars. With more choices, I think the quality of life will improve.”
Bell said he expects this to impact UAB students, young professionals, doctors, and people with business in Birmingham.
“Birmingham has improved over my time here and there is more going on. The city has transformed from mostly a steel industry to a place where people can do other things such as buy housing, eat out, see minor league baseball games, and attend concerts,” said Bell.
Bell said he has seen small businesses move from the suburbs to downtown, as well as more breweries open.
“I think that 20 Midtown will help attract more people downtown and make their daily lives easier because it provides something the city didn’t have before,” said Bell.