ComebackTown is published by David Sher to begin a discussion on a better Birmingham.
Today’s guest blogger is Maury Shevin. If you’d like to be a guest blogger, please click here.
I recently attended a meeting of real estate professionals from the Birmingham area.
Dick Schmalz, President RGS Properties, spoke about his 20 Midtown development. 20 Midtown is the new Publix, Starbucks, retail and apartment buildings that are being developed between 3rd and 4th Avenues South on both sides of 20th Street. These are not pie-in-the-sky projects. They are real with building permits and bank financing. Dick said these three projects will cost more than $100 million.
A sharecropper is someone who raises crops for the owner of a piece of land and is paid a portion of the money from the sale of the crops.
We in Birmingham have always been controlled by outside landlords.
Birmingham is the city of iron and steel and historically U.S. Steel controlled every aspect of our lives-politics, business, and people. U.S. Steel is headquartered in Pittsburgh and was for much of Birmingham’s history our largest employer. Birmingham’s labor was first to be laid off and last to be rehired. All decisions favored Pittsburgh over Birmingham, and of course, all profits were sent up north.
Fortunately, U.S. Steel is no longer our largest employer, but unfortunately we are still being impacted. February 5th, U.S. Steel announced it could lay off up to 1,840 workers here.
In September of 2002 Dave Adkisson, the then President of our Birmingham Area Chamber of Commerce (now BBA), and I got up for an early morning jog. We were two of approximately one hundred Birmingham political and community leaders who had traveled to St. Louis to learn about the city and the Edward Jones Dome—home of the St. Louis Rams.
It was really dark and foggy that morning and we got lost. When we asked some local joggers for directions, they were curious as to why we were in St. Louis.