Bayer and Sher don’t have a prayer

Jeffrey Bayer, President & CEO Bayer Properties
Jeffrey Bayer, President & CEO Bayer Properties

Here’s a story about POWER and Jeffrey Bayer.

On November 14, Jeffrey Bayer, President and CEO of Bayer Properties, and I were scheduled to deliver a speech about regional governance at a symposium of Birmingham area commercial real estate professionals (CCIM).

The Harbert Center was dark when we arrived.  The lights and electricity were off and the escalator to the upper floors was motionless.  There had been an traffic accident killing the power to the Harbert Center and nearby buildings.

When we walked into the dark third floor auditorium packed with real estate people, Deborah McGill Smith, a broker at EGS, was giving her presentation into a dead microphone.  Suddenly a smile flashed upon her face and she quipped, “Jeffrey Bayer has just entered the building and the power didn’t even come on.”  She got a big laugh and continued her talk.

After Deborah completed her presentation and at the very moment when Jeffrey began his speech, the lights and power unexpectedly came on blinding everyone in the room. The audience gasped with surprise and then broke into laughter—yes, Jeffrey had the POWER.

The landscape of Birmingham has changed by the power of Jeffrey Bayer

I began publishing ComebackTown three years ago with modest success, but after Jeffrey volunteered to write two guest blogs on how our Birmingham region could be ignited through county/city government consolidation, people started to pay attention. (Jeffrey Bayer: an idea that could fix Birmingham and Jeffrey Bayer sticks his neck out)

Jeffrey and his partner, David Silverstein, have a knack of tackling impossible tasks and completing them.

The Summit Shopping Center: Just about everyone I know thought the Summit was a dumb idea and heavily criticized the City of Birmingham for providing incentives.  Not only has The Summit been wildly successful but it’s now a major source of sales tax revenue for Birmingham.

Cahaba Village: This piece of real estate on Highway 280 was commonly called ‘the dirt pile.’  It was tied up in litigation for years and looked like a dead end project. High profile tenants like Whole Foods now make Cahaba Village one of the most successful neighborhood shopping centers in the Southeast.

 UpTown: The BJCC tried for years to develop an entertainment district adjacent to the Civic Center.  Many people rolled their eyes as the project went from one failure to the next.  Finally the City hired Bayer Properties and now UpTown is 100% occupied with tenants generating more than $25 million in revenues last year.

Pizitz Development: This beat up historic building was empty for years.  But in March, Bayer Properties began construction on this $66 million project which will transform downtown north of the railroad tracks much like Railroad Park and Regions Field transformed Southside.

 Almost everyone thinks government consolidation will never happen

Jeffrey and I have spoken to audiences all over the region about county/city consolidation with the same result:  Almost everyone tells us it’s a great idea, but thinks it will never happen.

However, in a recent poll by the Birmingham Business Journal (BBJ) 81% of those who responded thought Birmingham would be better if it had a combined metro area government.  That’s four out of every five people.  It would probably be impossible to get four out of five people to agree that George Washington was our first President.

Do you think government consolidation will never happen?

I wouldn’t bet against Jeffrey Bayer.

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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7 thoughts on “Bayer and Sher don’t have a prayer”

  1. *Could government consolidation be done while keeping local school boards?  I think that would be the biggest obstacle – people like their local schools local and don’t want a county-wide school system. 

    1. George, You are right on target. Combining school systems would be a non-starter. Every city has done its consolidation differently. Indianapolis left out school systems. Charlette did a ‘functional consolidation’ where the city and county divided job functions–one does fire and the other police, etc. We would have to find a consolidation that would work specifically for Birmingham. All consolidations are not the same.

  2. *Go get ’em Jeffrey and David! I’m one of the four out of five and behind you 100%. Please let me and the majority know what we can do to support you and make this happen.

  3. *David, 

    What is the next step for working out a consolidation plan?  When B’ham’s form of gov’t was changed in 1962-1963, it began with businessman Sidney Smyer asking the Bar Association to study it and come up with a recommendation and plan. After that, it required a certain number of signatures for a referendum. Those were obtained by putting up booth’s with sign ups near voting polls (in another, separate election-David Vann’s brilliant idea) calling for a referendum on the issue.  Then the people voted. Would the Bar Association be willing to study it and recommend a form of consolidation that would work for us?

    1. Teresa, a group of us are working through this process. We’ve determined that our first step is to educate ourselves and the general public by inviting speakers from successful cities like Nashville and Charlotte to talk about their government structure. There are many ways to do government consolidation and I think it’s too early to know what might be best for Birmingham/Jefferson County.

  4. *Excellent  article.   Many exciting things are happening in and around Birmingham these days.  Keep up the great stories.

    Regarding consolidated government, Nashville, where I live is used as an example.  Metro Nashville is very fortunate to have the consolidated government.  Few cities are so fortunate.  Some are even becoming more unconsolidated.  Good case in point is Atlanta.  In the last 10-15 years, numerous new incorporations have occurred forming many new municipalities such as Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Milton, and Brookhaven just to name a few.  There are probably more.

    In Nashville, under the umbrella of Metro Nashville, there are several municipalities that have their own police, fire departments and other civil services.  Such communities are Belle Meade, Oak Hill, Hendersonville, and probably Goodlettsville.  None have their own school systems however.  In Belle Meade and Hendersonville, the vast majority of students go to private schools.  I would expect the percentage of students whose families live in Metro and who attend Metro schools is pretty low.

    I think consolidated government would be an excellent thing.  I would recommend keeping the school systems autonomous though for reasons I have mentioned above.  The Birmingham area need much, much more intermunicipal cooperation.

    Thanks again for this fine forum and for all your good work.  Keep it going.

    Skip Malone

    Nashville, Tn.

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