This morning’s Birmingham News reported that the resolution providing $17 million to be applied towards the Railroad Reservation Park and the acquisition of the Eastwood Mall property for construction of a new shopping center was approved during the weekly City Council meeting. Click here for a history of the entire Railroad Reservation site, courtesy of www.bhamrails.info. A printer friendly version of the article talking about the master plan recently presented for the Oporto Madrid commercial area is available by clicking here.
Both of these large scale initiatives call for the city’s fabric to be altered. The Railroad Reservation Park allows for a connection between the City Center and the UAB medical hub that has developed on Southside. Groundbreaking for the park is scheduled for later this month. The park serves as a catalyst not only for connecting two areas into one large downtown, it also provides a potential point from which some other initiatives can be dealt with, including transit and safety. It will be a lot of fun watching the dirt being moved around on this site. Thanks to Curtis Palmer for the picture.
The master plan for Oporto Madrid, developed by KPS Group, provides suggestions for redeveloping a commercial area that has been affected by continued development “over the mountain.” Wal-Mart, whether loved or not, provides the catalyst in this area for renewed interest and development. The hope is that increased traffic in the area produced by customers to the new Supercenter store will provide incentive for additional retailers, national and local, to follow suit. Even before this announcement was made, construction on a Publix within the city limits was well underway on Montclair Road. The plan also calls for a pedestrian focused component, providing a “Main Street” or “town square” feel, something that would be interesting to see applied in a section of town that has become quite dependent on automotive traffic for its design of shops, as is the case in most city edges in the late twentieth century. If successful, it can provide a model for future development throughout the city and allow us to see just how quickly people are willing to give up their self-dependence on the car for an opportunity to enjoy days like this one. And it would be a great feeling. We’ll see what happens. Let me know what you think.