Jeffrey Bayer announces another preposterous project

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

Today’s guest blog was written by Jeffrey Bayer.

 If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.

When we proposed the Summit Shopping Center, folks told us we were insane and the City of Birmingham was accused of being irresponsible for advancing us $5 million.

We paid back that loan within two years and currently the Summit pays the City of Birmingham over $15 million a year in taxes.

Then there was the ridiculous idea of developing a piece of property along Highway 280 called the “Dirt Pile.” Some Mountain Brook citizens tried to block it and folks in Vestavia Hills were so angry they sued to stop it. Today many of those same people shop regularly at Whole Foods or one of the many other successful merchants.

Folks thought we were crazy when we contracted to recruit tenants for Uptown.  We were told that no upscale business could possibly survive in North Birmingham. Uptown is now fully occupied and the tenants are thrilled to be there.

Then we had the wacky idea of investing $70 million in an old deteriorating department store building in a part of downtown that had mostly been abandoned. The Pizitz is now open and it will transform downtown north of the railroad tracks just as Railroad Park and Regions Field did for midtown.

Another preposterous project for our Birmingham region

Now I’m proposing one more farfetched project—one that no one seems to think is possible—but would change Birmingham forever.

We at Bayer Properties regularly battle with out-of-state business prospects who say they do not want to risk coming to Birmingham because we’re not growing jobs or population.

And they are correct.  It’s hard to believe, but we have fewer people employed in Bibb, Blount, Chilton, Jefferson, St. Clair, Shelby, and Walker Counties today than nearly a decade ago.

Why would a fast growing progressive company consider investing in a stagnant Birmingham when they could deploy their people and assets in cities that are having double digit job growth like Nashville or Charlotte?

According to American City Business Journal (parent company of Birmingham Business Journal) our metropolitan region is projected to increase in population by 4% over the next 25 years. That’s 4% total–not 4% per year.

Compare that to a projected 33% population growth for Huntsville, 49% Charlotte, 49% Nashville, and 98% Austin.

Birmingham is not doomed to stagnation

Our Birmingham region is in an employment rut because our unwieldy segmented governments work against one another.

I propose this year we begin a serious conversation about regionalism and/or regional cooperation.

Our young people are demanding change.

There are so many young professionals who would like to build their careers and families in Birmingham, but they can’t find good jobs here.

They are tired of hearing that regional cooperation is impossible.

They want and deserve more.

Birmingham once was a town with low self-esteem and a feeling of gloom, but we are beginning to smell success. Birmingham is in the midst of one of its biggest building booms in our history.

We are not doomed to low or no growth.

You may think that this sounds preposterous, but Birmingham will change forever in 2017.

Jeffrey A. Bayer, President and CEO of Bayer Properties, has fostered his organization into a national commercial real estate leader.  Jeffrey’s a Birmingham native and an uncompromising Birmingham supporter.

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 Co-Founder 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).

Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham.

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23 thoughts on “Jeffrey Bayer announces another preposterous project”

  1. I approve of regional cooperation, who doesn’t? But how does that translate into jobs and economic growth?

    1. Liz – it translates as simplified administrative structure (if you have multiple locations, you deal with one city hall, not several), consolidate police and fire services (economies of scale), one 911 call center, not seventeen, and a 311 service which doesn’t automatically misdirect edge cases to the wrong municipality!

  2. I’m not following how administrative efficiency on city services translates into more jobs and economic growth.

    1. Hey Liz, it’s much more than efficiencies. Our Birmingham region has spent about $150 million over the past 10 years recruiting businesses to move from one side of town to the other or to not move to an adjacent municipalities. Other more unified cities spend that money to recruit new companies to town. 15 years ago we had 30 public companies headquartered here. We now have 10. Nashville has 29 public companies. We end out with less companies and way fewer jobs. In Jefferson County we have 37 municipalities, 53 fire departments, and 24 police departments. We squander are tax dollars.

  3. The goal of growth is excellent. Our lack of growth is a huge problem. I think, however, that we need to take Liz Ellaby’s questions seriously. Everyone in this area knows that the most wasteful and corrupt governmnents we have are the City of Birmingham and Jefferson County. Just look at the sewer debacle. Look at the schools. Look at any meeting of the Birmingham City Council. Exactly how is the proposed regional cooperation going to solve the problem of our extremely low growth? What do we like and want to keep about our smaller municipalities? I happen to like the accountability, responsiveness and the lack of a huge bureaucracy within my municipality.

    Government structure is very important. The success of our U.S. Constitution proves that. My point is that I have read about regional cooperation on this site for years and have never found those arguments persuasive. If it is the key, our community will require a much more in-depth explanation of the benefits in order to make that change.

    1. Corrupt, yes. But the city of Birmingham is not “wasteful” per se. The city has never had a significant financial crisis in its history. The city budget is public. Only 1% or so of the budget is wasted on frivolous crap.

      Which city was claiming it couldn’t even afford buses for students? Oh that was Hoover…

      Fairfield is bankrupt. Homewood just passed a 1% sales tax with zero outcry, zero public discussion. How would that have been perceived in Birmingham? A LOT differently. The Birmingham financial situation is not that bad and a lot better than it could be.

      1. I agree with you about Birmingham. But in all fairness the bus thing in Hoover was not about the city not having enough money. It was a fight over money. It was political and proposed during a time in which Hoover schools had an $80 million surplus (thus the city not feeling obligated to give them more). Hoover schools just didn’t want to operate at a deficit, and ever since that debate the city has been increasing school funding.

        Getting over the US V.S. THEM mentality in this region is a huge part of proposals like the one Jeffery Bayer is making…

    2. Frank, I appreciate your well thought out response and your loyalty to following even though I’ve been unable to convince you of the benefits of regionalism. I believe that Jeffrey is proposing that in-depth research to determine what might be best for our region. We all want the same successful result–we now need to do our homework and find a solution(s).

  4. I respectfully suggest that Jeffrey run for mayor. Birmingham needs another William B. Hartsfield . This no simple or flip suggestion for a local boy – and I have been one of those who often wondered to whom Jeffrey sold his soul to get some of his deals – having been round in business circles in Birmingham for 40 years.

    But . . .Jeffery has consistently won, performed, achieved, prospered, and done almost everything he set out to do. Birmingham needs a wholesale turnover of leadership, attitude, and talent. Jeffery as mayor – and a similar selection of council members – would be a great start.

    Birmingham has had since the ’70s to get it into gear. their only (major business) victory was the success of Hoover and north Shelby County. It is what it is and not about race. Actions and accomplishments have spoken louder than words.

  5. This “MUST” happen if the Birmingham “area” is to progress and compete. I say “area” because the entire metro area is in this all together. The Bham music and restaraunt scene is excellent and getting better all the time but if we are going to take the next step forward, to truly grow and be a world class city (which Bham DOES have the potential to become) then regional governmental cooperation is the ONLY way to accomplish this. Our regional transit system is a mess and totally unacceptable and regional cooperation is an absolute requirement to make this goal become a reality!

  6. As Dr. Wiatrak said, “The Bham music and restaurant scene is excellent and getting better all the time.” And so have its great breweries and certain recreational opportunities and lofts – all good and all wonderful to have. But, these “enjoyments” will not build or maintain a great city: ask the folks in Memphis. You can’t build a city based on youngster amusements and the restaurant/bar culture: Ask New Orleans. Without their business and shipping base, the French Quarter wouldn’t exist.

  7. Pardon my ignorance, but how does the Birmingham Business Alliance stand with municipalities within their region spending $150MM over 10 years to compete with each other?

      1. And they never will. The BBA is the most anemic, treasonous organization in the Birmingham area. When will Mr. Sher ask Brian Hilson how many jobs he has shipped to Huntsville and how many jobs his third-highest-paid non profit dictator inth e state salary has brought to Birmingham?

  8. I moved to Birmingham in 1993 when times seemed very prosperous for our city and jobs were in abundance. I think it is interesting to note that in 1999 Birmingham elected to rededicate Vulcan back to his original splendor. At that time I did not think much about it, but I know the refurbishment came at hefty price. Since that time our city center continues to be in disarray, with no real direction. While small victories, like Regions Park and forming a National Park spark a revival, these projects are not a long term solutions. Isn’t it interesting that the Roman God Vulcan towers over the city of Birmingham with his back to our “Over the Mountain”. The divide is to our detriment in many ways. Read “Vulcan’s Prophecy” which is posted in great splendor at Vulcan Park.

    Just as my statue towers above the sons of earth, so shall the district from whose breast the ore and coal were torn and fused to give me birth, exceed all others in time’s march. For o’er and o’er nature hath flung her treasures with a generous hand and Birmingham sits enthroned. Both hemispheres can draw on her; the mineral wealth of every land is there allied to rule the world in future years.

    I believe in the one true God and pray he breaks the curse over our city. These “treasures” are no longer generous and I can promise we are not “ruling the world”. I pray leaders will rise and that their gifts and talents will be fruitful to our city, where we are now able to tap into other resources that bring a sustaining revival to our dearly beloved Birmingham.

    How can I help? Sign me up.

  9. Thank you, Jeffrey, for the many wonderful projects you have envisioned and made happen in Birmingham. I do believe that there will be a great light at the end of this gloomy tunnel we have been mining for so many years. I am more than ready for the next generation to take charge and change our city forever – 2017 would be the PERFECT TIME!

  10. Population of Birmingham would be 500,000 if consolidation happens . This is awesome very awesome the youth an elderly are ready to stay in bham . Right after school an so forth bham needs to have the jobs , safety , transit , fun an growth many want have to leave the metro for .

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