Today’s guest columnist is Mechelle Wilder.
Some 40 years ago, I was a student at Samford University, dating a young pastor of a small Cumberland Presbyterian Church in Norwood.
The church itself was picturesque with its dark hardwood flooring and banisters, beautiful stained-glass windows, and towering ceiling. It set as a sparkling gem amid the deteriorating and crime ridden neighborhood.
Some two years later, I married that young pastor and we moved into the parsonage next to the church.
Many of my family and friends were surprised that I would agree to live in such a crumbling and unsafe area, but what did I care, we were in love, and it was rent free!
Because of the trash that regularly filled the alleys, we sometimes had uninvited guests- dogs, cats, and alley rats. We did our best to board up holes under the house and put out traps, but because of the discarded food in the trash cans, it was a losing battle.
In the afternoons, we would jog along Norwood Boulevard, looking at what had once been one of the wealthier neighborhoods in Birmingham. The large Georgian-styled mansions with their wrap around front porches and detached garages made the area a virtual architectural showplace. We even inquired into purchasing one for ourselves, but the renovation costs were over our budget at the time, not to mention the high insurance premiums due to the accelerating crime rate and red lining.
Two years later, we left that starter home and moved into a newly built home in Shelby County. My husband also left that church and later began pastoring another church in Norwood’s sister community of Collegeville. Each Sunday we would drive past Norwood and the Old Carraway Hospital complex wondering would North Birmingham ever change for the better.
Norwood home values compare to homes in Shelby County
Needless to say, that time has arrived. Today the home values in Norwood positively compare to the home values in Shelby County.
In the past 12 months, 26 homes have sold in Norwood. The average sales price for a 1671 sq ft, 3-bedroom home was $195,000. That’s $117 per sq ft. Compare that to 12 similarly sized homes in Alabaster that sold for approx. $130 per sq ft during that same time frame.
There have also been outliers in Norwood. For example, in November of 2021, a 2354 sq ft home sold for $400,125. That’s $204 per sq ft.
Even as I am writing this article, there are six active homes in Norwood with an average sales price of $330,000. This includes a 2770 sq ft home listed for $520,000.
Norwood like the rest of Birmingham is in the middle of a housing shortage. There is less than one month of inventory across all of Jefferson and Shelby Counties. Home prices are soaring, causing houses to sell over list price.
That factor, along with the accelerated growth of the Northern area of Birmingham has been a huge benefit for Norwood. The improved interstate system, Uptown Entertainment District, Protective Stadium, Topgolf and the new plans for the Carraway Hospital Complex have all benefited the area.
Other Birmingham neighborhoods making a comeback
I would be negligent if I failed to mention other Birmingham neighborhoods such as Downtown Birmingham, Southside, Avondale, Crestwood, Forest Park, Bush Hills, Woodlawn and more that are all making a comeback.
In Woodlawn new construction prices are selling for more than $300,000 with Avondale’s average sales prices in the $400,000 to 500,000+ range. Downtown Birmingham condos and townhomes are selling for an average sold price of $300,000 to over $1 million dollars. Bush Hills is also benefitting with their average sold price of $197,000 and the highest sold price of $275,000.
Norwood is a neighborhood in walking distance to downtown Birmingham. Today it has many renovated homes plus a racially diverse group of residents. It is surrounded by commercial establishments that have added to its beauty.
Norwood’s restored homes have drawn many former suburban dwellers into the city. A once mainly African American neighborhood is now following the trend of other inner-city communities.
Mechelle Sippial Wilder, JD, is the foundering partner of ARC Realty, the largest private real estate company in Alabama. She has been a real estate agent for 21 years. She is married to the Rev Dr Thomas L Wilder Jr, pastor of the Historic Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville. They have been married 38 years and have 4 children and 2 sons-in-law.
David Sher is the founder and publisher of ComebackTown. 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 for free about a better Birmingham region.. email@example.com.