Publix wacky for building a store downtown?

PublixHas Publix gone mad?

The executives at Publix must be on drugs—bought at its own pharmacy.

Why would any sane company build a grocery store in downtown Birmingham?—not just a kids sized model—but a full size grocery store—pharmacy and all.

Publix must not have gotten the memo about white/black flight from the city center and the vast dangerous wasteland left behind.

Has Publix lost all sense of reality?

Publix has a global view of what’s happening in other cities.

David Silverstein of Bayer Properties says in every speech, “Birmingham is not the moon.”  If you want to see what will happen in Birmingham then look at other cities. Birmingham might be slow, but eventually we get there.

This recent USA Today piece, “New report shows urban ‘donut’ shifting,” will open your eyes…

The long-standing urban-suburban divide in education, income, race and other characteristics is being turned on its head as college-educated Millennials crowd into U.S. cities…

…Putting urban neighborhoods under a microscope, a University of Virginia researcher has concluded that the traditional urban “donut” pattern — a ring of thriving suburbs surrounding a decaying city center — is being replaced by a new pattern: a thriving urban core surrounded by a ring of suburbs with older housing, older residents and more poverty.

For most cities, the downtown was the poorest, least educated place” a generation or two ago, said Luke Juday, a research and policy analyst at U.Va.’s Weldon Cooper Center Demographics Research Group. Now, he said, it’s the opposite.

So Publix decides to open a 30,000 square foot grocery store in downtown Birmingham and amazingly it becomes the anchor of a $100 million development that includes Starbucks, retail, and residential.

Publix is then followed by the announcement of construction of the $66 million historic Pizitz Building.

Downtown development is everywhere:  The $8 million Lyric Theatre, the $5 million Children’s Museum in the McWane Science Center, the $22 million Thomas Jefferson Tower, and the Rotary Trail.

The USA Today article states, “In most cities, areas outside the urban core now show a decrease in income and education levels, with poverty growing significantly as well.

Publix is a wildly successful grocery chain.  Publix didn’t become successful by looking backwards.  Publix sees the future—and they see Birmingham.

Let’s turn Birmingham around.  Click here to sign up for our newsletter.  There’s power in numbers. (Opt out at any time)

David Sher is the publisher of ComebackTown, a co-founder of Buzz12, a division of Intermark Group, and co-CEO of AmSher Compassionate Collections.  He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).

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