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Birmingham’s Ramsay-McCormack building to be redeveloped

Ensley District Developers aims to deconstruct and redevelop the 10-story building built in 1929.

Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin on Thursday announced the redevelopment of the Ramsay-McCormack building in the Ensley Business District.

The city of Birmingham has partnered with the Ensley District Developers in the project, which aims to deconstruct the 10-story building, built in 1929, and use some of the old material to construct a new five-story, 30,000-square-foot building that will reflect the former building’s historic architecture style, according to a press release from the city. 

“For decades, the Ramsay-McCormack Building symbolized Ensley’s thriving business district. Sadly, in more recent years, it has only signified blight,” Woodfin said in a statement. “That’s why I’m so excited about this project – the Ramsay-McCormack Building site will very soon symbolize revitalization in this cherished neighborhood. We will focus investment not in a building alone, but through a comprehensive plan in the community.”

Deconstruction is expected to take 75 days. EDD will be overseeing the reconstruction, which aims to create a multipurpose building designed to drive foot traffic in the Ensley Business District. According to the release, plans call for creation of a “logistics hub, wrapped in an entertainment district.”

Birmingham’s Innovation Depot and Birmingham Promise Inc. have both agreed to lease space in the new building, according to the city. 

“The Ramsay-McCormack building is an icon in Ensley. For years, it has sat dormant, looming over the community as a relic of days gone by. But that will soon change,” City Councilor John Hilliard said in a statement. “I am so excited to see this major economic development happening in the Ensley community. This project will serve as an anchor for the continued growth and resurgence of one of Birmingham’s most historic communities, one that helped make Birmingham a major industrial hub. No longer will we have to gaze upon a big empty building wondering ‘what if.’ I’d like to thank the mayor’s team and all of our partners who have helped make this a reality. When I came into office, I made it a priority to improve the economic outlook for my district and this project is a huge step in that direction.” 

Irvin Henderson, a principal of EDD, said the redevelopment of the Ramsay-McCormack site will be a beacon for the Ensley neighborhood, much like its predecessor building. 

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“This project coupled with the Woodfin administration’s additional revitalization strategy will support new and exciting opportunities,” Henderson said. “These actions will support new and existing businesses. The enthusiasm and consumer interest will bring customers to the businesses and increase the traffic of the area, which will support a healthy climate for entrepreneurism and encourage positive investment. This is the formula for revitalization.”

The new building will also be registered as a United States Green Building Council LEED Silver v4 office building, making it the first privately developed LEED v4 office building in the Birmingham market. 

“The majority of the LEED-rated buildings in Birmingham have been developed by UAB and other institutional organizations in neighborhoods that have not suffered from long term disinvestment.  This offering in Ensley will usher in a new vision for the redevelopment and reinvestment in the Ensley Community,” said Carlton Brown, a principal in Ensley District Developers and one of the founders of the Green Building Council.

According to the city, EDD has worked with minority and women-owned business enterprise firms in the predevelopment process of the project, and will continue to solicit MWBE proposals for the construction, development and operation of the building.  

Charles Williams & Associates is the architecture firm hired to work on the project, and Dragon Energy Consulting is the LEED consulting firm. 

The city of Birmingham bought the Ramsay-McCormack Building in 1983, and in February 2019, the city called for proposals to redevelop the site, but initial proposals submitted by private developers were rejected, and in September 2019, EDD entered a contract with the city to complete the work. The project has an estimated completion date near the end of 2022, according to the city.

Eddie Burkhalter is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or reach him via Twitter.

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