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Old April 23rd, 2007, 08:25 PM   #61
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Alabama Adventure may get incentives for hotel
Posted by Birmingham News staff April 23, 2007 1:00 PM

Jefferson County Commission will set a public hearing for next month to discuss a $2.5 million economic development agreement with Alabama Adventure.

Plans are under way to build a 280-room hotel with an indoor water park and a 320-site campground near the theme park in Bessemer.

Commissioners said at a finance committee meeting today the public hearing could be as soon as May 8.

Commissioner Jim Carns said the project went through the county's incentive review committee for comment.

"This will be a new facility. They're talking about investing $90 million and we're giving them a tax break for the first five years," Carns said. "We're not giving them upfront money. We're asking them to earn it as the project unfolds."

Charles Gargus, community relations director for Southland Entertainment Group, the California firm that owns the theme park, said the campground could be complete sometime next year.

The area will sport bathhouses, playgrounds and an ATV trail.
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Old April 23rd, 2007, 10:44 PM   #62
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Good stuff. Will be nice to see some life in this section of the Southside.

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University House complex to open this fall
Birmingham Business Journal - 2:01 PM CDT Monday, April 23, 2007
Lauren B. Cooper

The $20 million University House will open this fall and developers have more than 40 percent of the units preleased.

Texas-based University Partners announced in 2005 it would build, own and operate a 162-unit, 496-bed student housing development near the University of Alabama at Birmingham, at 14th Street and Third Avenue South.

The company said its one-bedroom floor plans have sold out and that response is higher than it initially projected.

While the development is close to UAB, Byrne said several students from Samford University have signed leases. Roommate matching is available for the development's two- and four-bedroom units, she said.

University House will feature streetscape, interior courtyards and a parking garage.

A similar project by the company also is underway in Baton Rouge, near Louisiana State University. According to its Web site, the company operates more than 17,000 beds in 10 states.

University Partners hopes the Birmingham project will help to further revitalize the area with additional housing and retail, said Monica Byrne, a spokeswoman for the company.
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Old April 25th, 2007, 05:19 AM   #63
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Driving down 7th Avenue today, I was pleasantly surprised to see a vacant store-front building with a "Coming Soon" sign indicating that a new, authentic Thai restaurant would open just next to the Oriental Market at the corner of 7th Avenue and 22nd Street South.

Yay for multiculturalism downtown!

Looks like it will be run as a unique place rather than a franchise. In my experience, when it comes to ethnic foods, it's these type of places that are much more authentic.
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Old April 27th, 2007, 10:43 PM   #64
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BJCC board approves entertainment district deal
Posted by Birmingham News staff April 27, 2007 3:07 PM

The Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center board of directors this afternoon unanimously approved the construction of a multimillion-dollar entertainment district next to the BJCC convention center.

The board agreed to a 99-year deal with the company that manages Memphis' Beale Street. Under the terms of the deal, Performa will build and manage the district, paying the BJCC 5 percent of the district's gross income and 50 percent of net income after expenses related to debt.

BJCC officials said construction could begin as soon as this fall.

Stan Diel
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Old April 28th, 2007, 05:35 AM   #65
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Here's an interesting tidbit I found... this was posted a couple days ago on April 25th...

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Downtown Notebook: Homegrown entertainment?

Everybody’s entertainment attention this year has been focused on Performa’s proposal to build a new entertainment district at the BJCC. However, the Weekly has learned over the last few weeks of another attempt to establish an entertainment district in downtown Birmingham.

Over the past few months, Joseph McClure, the owner and founder of Joseph McClure Commercial Real Estate, has been quietly pitching a 12-page proposal to prospective downtown business owners and current downtown property owners. The gist of the idea is to recruit at least eight new businesses to a core area downtown – roughly from First to Third Avenue North along 20th Street and from 18th to 20 Street on Third Avenue North – and have them all open at the same time.

McClure has thus far declined to comment to the Weekly about his proposal, saying he wants to wait until he has more details finalized. His main goal right now, he says, is compiling a list of potential properties – with willing property owners – for prospective business owners to view.

His 12-page proposal explains quite a bit, however. One thing is for certain – McClure doesn’t want this project to be viewed as a competitor with the BJCC plan.

“This concept has worked for years in [Five] Points South, and is doing wonders for the Lakeview area,” McClure wrote in his information packet. “There is little doubt that it will work at the newly proposed civic center development. And it will work in Downtown Birmingham, too … This can become the tie that binds Five Points South to the new civic center development plan.”

McClure’s ultimate goal, according to his proposal, is to “create a downtown nightlife featuring an upscale multi-venue entertainment area with food, coffee shops, music, theatre, art galleries, cocktail lounges and general after-hours entertainment.”

There are sure to be plenty of questions McClure will have to answer once he reveals his plan publicly – concerning how he plans to get various property owners on board, for one thing – but he may have picked a prime spot to promote late-night revitalization. What little after-hours activity exists downtown exists around the area he has targeted. What remains to be seen is whether McClure’s plan can build on that modest foundation.

Pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Birmingham Weekly for a full story on McClure’s plan.
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Old April 28th, 2007, 05:45 AM   #66
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Here's a longer, more in-depth piece from Birmingham Weekly on the proposal...

Quote:
Organic entertainment
Real estate player has new plans for after-hours Birmingham
By: Phillip Jordan

The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex isn’t the only portion of downtown that could become a bastion of late-night options. If Joseph McClure has his way, the intersection of Third Avenue North and 20th Street will also become an entertainment destination.

Over the past few months, McClure, the founder and owner of Joseph McClure Commercial Real Estate, has been pitching 12-page proposals to prospective downtown business owners and current downtown property owners. His plan calls for at least eight new businesses to open simultaneously in an effort to help downtown’s retail and entertainment offerings catch up with the area’s residential market.

McClure’s ultimate goal, according to his informational packet, is to “create a downtown nightlife featuring an upscale multi-venue entertainment area with food, coffee shops, music, theatre, art galleries, cocktail lounges and general after-hours entertainment.”

People familiar with McClure’s idea call it a more organic approach to building an entertainment district compared to the from-scratch BJCC plan. McClure declined to comment to the Weekly about his proposal, saying he would prefer to wait until after he finalizes more details – including a list of potential properties for new businesses.

The 12-page proposal making the rounds among downtown business folks says plenty, however. In it, McClure claims businesses have failed to meet the demands of downtown’s residents and workers because there has been no coordination or strategy involved in how (and where) new stores open.

McClure is offering himself as the conduit to achieve this sea change. Once all details are made public, it will be up to business owners to determine if his plan is truly organic or simply dictatorial. It also remains to be seen whether his plan can work to link various entertainment districts in the city, or if it will become simply another competitor for limited local resources.

“This concept has worked for years in [Five] Points South, and is doing wonders for the Lakeview area,” McClure writes. “There is little doubt that it will work at the newly proposed civic center development. And it will work in Downtown Birmingham, too … This can become the tie that binds Five Points South to the new civic center development plan.”


Defining the district
According to McClure’s documents, the initial boundaries of the district would stretch along Third Avenue North between 18th and 20th Streets, and on 20th Street from First to Third Avenue North. His plan refers to the area simply as the Downtown Birmingham Entertainment District.

It’s easy to see why McClure might have chosen these few blocks for infill development. There are numerous ground-floor vacancies within these boundaries. The city of Birmingham’s online mapping reveals there are more than 20 vacant, ground-floor spaces available in the district – in all manner of shape or disrepair – that could fit McClure’s guidelines.

However, if you take a walk around this area of town after sunset, you’re still more likely to find activity here than anywhere in points further north downtown – or points further south across the railroad tracks in midtown.

What nighttime entertainment options do exist downtown, exist here. The Alabama Theatre, McWane Science Center’s IMAX Theatre and the live-performance Summerfest Theatre can all be found in this area. (Fundraising for the Lyric Theatre’s renovation is also underway.) There are restaurants such as Café Dupont, Roma’s, Lyric Hot Dog & Burgers and Surin of Thailand, as well as several other light-fare lunch spots.

Safari Cup stays open some nights and another nighttime coffee house, Java & Jams, is scheduled to open later this summer. Bars such as Speakeasy 1920 and Metro Bistro are nearby, and there are even a handful of shops. McClure has even moved his own office to the neighborhood, renovating a building along 20th Street that is now filled with historic mementos of Birmingham.

It’s a modest foundation, but according to McClure’s research, it’s enough. Adding new businesses in this area makes sense, McClure argues, if they all open simultaneously.

“There must me an influx of a minimum of eight new specific businesses,” he writes, “which will construct their space and open their doors at approximately the same time.”


What’ll ya have?
With his company taking the lead on this project, McClure has a vested interest in seeing his plan succeed. He plans to provide information on available properties, provide as-built plans for each available space, coordinate implementation and find financing options. McClure Commercial Real Estate would compile floor plans, cost analysis, title work surveys and environmental studies. JMCRE would also handle marketing and advertising.

Parking availability, late-night public transportation, increased security patrols and financial help are just a few of the areas in which McClure will need assistance from either city government or from private investors. Carol Clarke, director of economic development for the city of Birmingham, says McClure has contacted her about the plan, but they haven’t begun seriously discussing what the city could offer. She indicated that the city’s primary interest right now remains with encouraging entertainment growth around the BJCC district and the Railroad Reservation Park.

“But his plan sounds exciting,” Clarke says. “I don’t think we’re a one-entertainment-district town by any means. The more things we have in the city center, the better.”

Clarke adds that McClure’s greatest challenge would be getting so many different property owners on board. “It’s a lot of different pieces to get together,” Clarke says. “It’s a lot of other people’s property.”

In his packet, McClure writes that he will persuade property owners to give qualified prospects free options on their space while leases or contracts are determined – that way prospective business owners won’t have to fear they could get stuck going it alone.

In return, McClure gets to guide and approve developments in the district.

“In order to make this District a cohesive whole, rather than an aimless hodgepodge of establishments, a tangible theme must flow through it all,” McClure writes.

To achieve that desired continuity, McClure’s notes mandate that a “District Committee,” be formed. “There is no intent to exclude any particular type of operations but it is also not the intent to end up with a group of homogenous businesses catering to one specific group,” McClure writes. “Birmingham is a wonderfully diverse city, and this District should reflect that.”

In the meantime, downtown observers await more public details from McClure. A new website for Joseph McClure Commercial Real Estate is being designed at www.jmcre.net, and McClure says he hopes to have property listings and other information ready within the next few weeks.

“There are few of us left who still have hope for the retail sector of Downtown Birmingham. Seldom do I meet someone from Birmingham who can visualize the potential and envision the possibilities of a vibrant city center,” McClure writes near the end of his proposal.

“I plan to start modestly; I am simply looking for eight entrepreneurs who share my vision, and property owners willing to cooperate.”
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Old April 29th, 2007, 04:08 PM   #67
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Interesting...

Quote:
New hotel coming to downtown, insiders say
Project to include 255 rooms, spa and restaurant
Sunday, April 29, 2007
DAWN KENT News staff writer

A luxury hotel is planned for Birmingham at the site of the 17-story former Regions Financial Corp. headquarters at Fifth Avenue and 20th Street North, a source with knowledge of the project said.

Details about the project are expected to be announced Monday at a 2 p.m. news conference. A news release scheduling the event said representatives from Harbert Realty Services, the city of Birmingham and others will unveil plans "concerning a major project to transform a downtown property."

A major hotel company is expected to operate at the site, with a restaurant, spa, ballrooms and 255 guest rooms, sources said.

The new hotel would complement Birmingham's corporate offices, boost traffic for downtown merchants and raise the city's profile in the convention business.

The project also represents a return to the site's roots as the home of the original Tutwiler Hotel.

Regions, which merged with across-the-street rival AmSouth Bancorp late last year, put its old headquarters up for sale in March. The bank's base has since moved to the glass tower occupied for decades by AmSouth.

At the time, Regions said it expected to maintain a significant presence in its old building into 2008. It could not be determined Saturday whether Regions still owns the building or how much investment will be involved in the project.

Harbert Realty is part of the Harbert business umbrella tied to Raymond J. Harbert, son of the late construction magnate John M. Harbert III.

Efforts to reach Harbert Realty officials were unsuccessful.

Officials with the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau said news of the project is a welcome surprise.

"I think our hotel market is ready for a good solid expansion, and I think the location of that one would be great," said Russell Cunningham, president and CEO of the chamber.

The nearby offices of Regions, Wachovia Corp. and Compass Bancshares, along with the centers of city and county government and a host of law firms, make up a "terrific nucleus of business" that attracts corporate travelers, Cunningham said.

Enticing conventions:

The new hotel would aid those travelers, as well as people who visit the city for conventions, because the site is within walking distance of the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, he said.

Now, about 850 hotel guest rooms are within walking distance of the BJCC that are available for convention visitors, said Dilcy Hilley, vice president of marketing for the convention and visitors bureau.

While Birmingham's convention business is growing, more hotel space is needed to keep competing with other cities that also are trying to woo the profitable gatherings, she said.

"There are groups that would love to meet in Birmingham, but we just can't accommodate their guest needs," Hilley said.

Convention and Visitors Bureau officials would like to have as many as 2,000 guest rooms within walking distance of the BJCC available for conventions, but 1,200 to 1,500 rooms would boost Birmingham's position, she said.

Available hotel space, specifically space that's convenient to a convention complex, is a consistent trait among cities that have growing downtowns, said Barry Copeland, the chamber's executive vice president.

A new hotel also means more pedestrian traffic for downtown businesses, such as restaurants, he said.

A building downtown:

There has been an ongoing building boom of hotel space in the city.

As of December, developers were spending nearly $100 million to build or renovate hotel space downtown and in Southside, for a total of more than 1,500 new or spruced-up rooms.

Recent hotel projects include a $9 million transformation of the current Tutwiler Hotel at 2021 Park Place, which officially became a member of the Hampton Inn & Suites brand earlier this month.

Additional hotel and office space also is planned for the former Federal Reserve property along 18th Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues North.

In the Civil Rights District, a developer is proposing hotel space as part of a renovation of the A.G. Gaston Motel. A hotel also is a part of plans for a new downtown entertainment district.

The original Tutwiler Hotel opened in 1914 on the site of the existing Regions Bank headquarters. It was a showplace of the city through the 1950s but was hurt by retail and residential flight to the suburbs.

It was demolished in 1974 to make way for the Regions building.

E-mail: dkent@bhamnews.com --

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Old May 3rd, 2007, 06:02 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Blazer85 View Post
Interesting...
Regions joined Harbert Realty Services and Concord Hospitality Enterprises in announcing plans to convert the Regions Plaza at 5th Avenue North and 20th Street in downtown Birmingham, Ala., into a $50 million, 4-Diamond quality hotel. Harbert and Concord have formed a partnership to develop the hotel.

Plans are for the 400 Regions associates who have offices in Regions Plaza to move to the Regions Center later this year. Once unoccupied, the current Regions Plaza property will be completely renovated inside and out, and Concord Harbert officials estimate that construction will begin in 2008. The property will provide luxury accommodations, create new tax revenues and jobs for Birmingham and increase the city’s attraction as a business and convention center.

The facility will provide guests with the ambiance of a boutique hotel. It will feature conference and banquet facilities, a full-service restaurant and bar, coffee shop, fitness center and pool, concierge services, valet and self parking facilities and a business center. Concord Harbert Birmingham Hotel, LLC, the formal name of the hotel partnership, values the project at more than $50 million. Concord Harbert has selected Birmingham-based Hoar Construction Company, LLC as general contractors and the Birmingham office of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood as its engineering firm.

Harbert’s partner in the investment is Raleigh-based Concord Hospitality Enterprises, owner and operator of some 50 North American hotel properties including brands such as Renaissance and Marriott.
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Old October 12th, 2007, 02:42 AM   #69
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Can someone in here please direct me to some piccys of Birmingham?
I've aquired a new chat buddy from there and i was wondering what your city looks like.
I couldnt find any pics from a cursory search etc.

Thanx in advance
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Old October 12th, 2007, 03:22 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Levelup View Post
Can someone in here please direct me to some piccys of Birmingham?
I've aquired a new chat buddy from there and i was wondering what your city looks like.
I couldnt find any pics from a cursory search etc.

Thanx in advance
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/search...archid=1073794

lots of my photo threads of Birmingham (US and some of Birmingham England) are still here on ssc.

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Old November 20th, 2007, 12:01 AM   #71
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Hey Guys - why is so violent down there????

http://www.al.com/news/birminghamnew...l=2&thispage=3
Birmingham, Alabama, listed as nation's sixth most dangerous city
Detroit No. 1 but group's methods hit
Monday, November 19, 2007

Birmingham remains the nation's sixth most dangerous city for the second straight year, according to a study by a private research group that police immediately criticized.
The No. 6 spot in the rankings stems from the work of publisher CQ Press, a unit of Congressional Quarterly Inc., which studied 378 cities with a population of at least 75,000 people.
The 14th annual "City Crime Rankings: Crime in Metropolitan America," is based on the FBI's Sept. 24 crime statistics report.

The report compared per-capita rates for homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary and auto theft. Each crime category was considered separately and weighted based on its seriousness, CQ Press said.
Through Sunday, there have been 79 homicides in Birmingham this year. There were 109 homicides in 2006.
The study drew harsh criticism even before it came out. The American Society of Criminology launched a pre-emptive strike Friday, issuing a statement attacking it as "an irresponsible misuse" of crime data.
Efforts to reach Birmingham police Chief Annetta Nunn and other police officials, were unsuccessful. Efforts to reach incoming police Chief A.C. Roper also were unsuccessful.
In another blow to the Motor City's tarnished image, Detroit pushed past St. Louis to become the nation's most dangerous city, according to a private research group's controversial analysis, released Sunday, of annual FBI crime statistics.
Last year's crime leader, St. Louis, fell to No. 2. Another Michigan city, Flint, ranked third, followed by Oakland, Calif.; Camden, N.J.; Birmingham; North Charleston, S.C.; Memphis; Richmond, Calif.; and Cleveland.
The study ranked Mission Viejo, Calif., as the safest U.S. city, followed by Clarkstown, N.Y.; Brick Township, N.J.; Amherst, N.Y.; and Sugar Land, Texas.
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Old November 21st, 2007, 06:01 PM   #72
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What's the latest in Birmingham? I haven't been down there for so long. WHat are they building right now?
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Old December 7th, 2007, 10:15 PM   #73
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They're giving away a free MRI to the team that wins this rap contest... Cooper Green Hospital is currently 7th but has a ways to go to move into 1st. Help them out. They could really use it. Keep in mind. You can vote once per day per computer.

http://www.winanmri.com/index.php?view=popularity
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Old March 12th, 2008, 03:31 AM   #74
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Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Training Facility Expanding

Birmingham's Brookwood Pharmaceuticals adding 350 jobs in $40 million expansion

Company adding 350 jobs in $40 million expansion
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
BARNETT WRIGHT
News staff writer
Brookwood Pharmaceuticals Inc. will invest $40 million and create 350 jobs in a pharmaceutical manufacturing and training facility in Birmingham, a city official said Monday.

The city of Birmingham will be asked to provide $1.5 million in incentives on the project, said Tracey Morant Adams, the city's economic development director. Jefferson County will consider $1 million in incentives.

Brookwood has been a valued partner for the city and the expansion is an endorsement of Birmingham as a good place to operate a business, Adams said.

Brookwood has nearly 30 projects under way with major drug and medical-device companies and smaller customers to develop treatments in the diabetes, cancer, heart disease, orthopedics, nervous system and alcoholism markets.

Currently, the drug company has about 80 employees at its location on Tom Martin Drive in the Oxmoor Valley area. Adams said the expansion will bring approximately 100 new jobs into the city in the first phase and the rest in phases over as many as four years.

"In addition to the new jobs, this is broadening us as a health and science sector," Adams said. "It's a big deal."

Adams said Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford will discuss the project at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

The Jefferson County Commission's Finance Committee on Monday set a March 25 public hearing to consider the economic development agreement with Brookwood.

"We are very excited about it," said Commission President Bettye Fine Collins. "They were trying to decide between another state and they chose us. This is an example of cooperation between the city, county and state."

Efforts to reach officials with the Alabama Development Office were unsuccessful.

Brookwood President Art Tipton said the company received tremendous support from the governor, the mayor and county commissioners. "They have been very helpful," he said. "We are excited about the support we have obtained."

The jobs, which will be located in the old Saks Inc. headquarters off Lakeshore Parkway, include technology and senior-level positions, officials said.

Last summer, Birmingham's Southern Research Institute sold Brookwood to Eden Prairie, Minn.-based SurModics Inc., which agreed to pay $40 million plus an additional $22 million if certain milestones are met. Brookwood remained in Birmingham after the deal.

Brookwood started drug formulation research at Southern Research in the mid-1970s and was spun off as a for-profit company in 2005.

It has 20 patents for its injectable implant technology that uses biodegradable polymers to deliver medicine in time-controlled injections. About 60,000 of the particles can fit into a grain of salt.

E-mail: bwright@bhamnews.com
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Old March 12th, 2008, 03:34 AM   #75
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Honda Manufacturing of Alabama Expanding Product Line

Ridgeline production set for'09 in Lincoln
Pickup joins Odyssey, Pilot at plant
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
WILLIAM THORNTON
News staff writer
LINCOLN - Honda officials confirmed Monday the Ridgeline pickup truck will begin rolling off the automaker's assembly lines here early next year.

Gov. Bob Riley and Honda's Alabama President Hiroshi Sasamoto drew back a black drape at an announcement ceremony Monday to unveil a silver Ridgeline to an applauding crowd at the plant.

Riley said the Ridgeline announcement, coupled with news that Mobile will produce Air Force refueling tankers and the Shoals area is getting a plant to produce rail cars, illustrates Alabama's expanding industrial might.

"We are producing the best products in the world, and this shows you can come to Alabama for anything, whether it be planes, trains or automobiles," he said.

The Ridgeline news was expected since Honda's 4,500 Lincoln employees were informed last month. But the announcement represents the latest milestone for Honda Manufacturing of Alabama, which has kept up a steady cycle of adding new products and plant expansions since it began production in Lincoln in November 2001.

"Every year or so, something comes up and we have to share our good news with our friends," said Chuck Ernst, plant manager.

Honda has invested $1.4 billion in Lincoln since announcing plans to build in Alabama in 1999. Company officials said they do not expect significant new hiring to start production of the Ridgeline, and the plant's announced capacity won't expand beyond the 300,000-a-year mark.

Company officials said they haven't yet determined whether production will be ratcheted back on the Odyssey or Pilot to make room for Ridgeline, adding the decision will be dictated by market demand. Last year, the Talladega County plant turned out 313,957 vehicles, above the announced production ceiling.

Honda, which is wrapping up a $64.5 million project to add steel blanking operations to the Lincoln operation, won't require a plant addition to make the pickup.

Rick Schostek, a senior vice president for Honda, said the Lincoln plant will need only some new equipment and training for employees to begin making the Ridgeline. Ernst said the plant will receive about 50 dies from Canada and will need to recalibrate robotic welding machines.

For workers, the truck will present a change of pace because its plastic pickup bed is a marked difference from the carpeted interiors of the Odyssey and Pilot.

But by the time production is ready to begin, company officials anticipate an eight minute interruption on their No. 1 assembly line - when work converts from the Odyssey to the Ridgeline.

The Ridgeline, introduced in 2005, is Honda's only pickup model. It includes a cab and bed that are one unit, with a trunk at the bottom of the bed.

Last year, Honda sold 42,795 Ridgelines. Prices for the 2008 model start at $28,000.

Honda officials in Lincoln said Monday they were anxious to begin producing a pickup.

"I've always wanted us to do a pickup truck," Ernst said. "The news has been well-received in the plant, and we think it will be that way everywhere."

The news struck a chord with Riley.

"It's about time somebody brought a pickup to Alabama," said Riley, who is from Ashland. "In Clay County, we understand pickup trucks a lot better than automobiles."

The truck, which is now being manufactured in Canada, will join the Odyssey minivan and Pilot sport utility as the plant's products. Lincoln will be the sole source for all three models.

E-mail: wthornton@bhamnews.com
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Old March 12th, 2008, 03:37 AM   #76
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BIA Hope to Begin Terminal Renovation this Year

Price tag rises on Birmingham airport terminal upgrade
$193.3 million estimate up 14% from '07
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
CHARLES R. McCAULEY
News staff writer
Birmingham airport officials said Monday a project to modernize and expand the 35-year-old terminal at Alabama's largest airport will cost $193.3 million, a figure that is nearly 14 percent higher than a year ago.

Upgrading the building to meet current and future demands is the largest line item in the five-year capital improvement budget approved Monday by the Birmingham Airport Authority.

The terminal was last renovated in 1993 and the estimate for the upgrade is up from $170 million a year ago and $161 million two years ago.

Spokeswoman Toni Bast said rising construction costs have a role in the revised cost projection. A definite price will result when architects complete a design and airport officials finalize negotiations with airlines on the renovation.

Airport managers list 19 other projects in the $355.3 million development plan for fiscal years 2009-2013. Among those under way are:

Land acquisitions under a noise reduction program, $54.7 million.

Build air cargo aircraft parking apron and a new roadway from Airport Highway, $21.1 million.

Installing a security surveillance system, $4.5 million.

Other projects will get started when federal funding is allocated. These include:

Acquiring land for more remote vehicle parking, $18 million.

Rehabilitating the north-south runway, $11.1 million.

Constructing a new maintenance building, $10 million.

The terminal upgrade calls for a centralized security checkpoint area, as is a new concourse for future international flights. Expanding toward the airfield side will allow passengers on the security side to visit each concourse.

Improvements in baggage screening devices and claim area, food and retail concessions, and parking deck elevators will be included.

Airport officials hope to begin construction this year after they and the air carriers agree on changes.

Fees passengers pay for flight takeoffs and landings and revenue from bonds will be used to pay for the terminal redesign.

Federal grants will finance most of the other active projects.

Also approved Monday was the budget to spend $30.4 million for operating expenses and revenue bond payments in fiscal 2009.

The $60 million operating budget proposed for fiscal 2009 shows $33.8 million in revenues and $26.2 million in Federal Aviation Administration grants, passenger fees and interest income for capital improvements.

Projected operating revenue is up 1.4 percent from the current budget and operating expenses are 1.7 percent higher.

"Parking deck revenues continue to be our largest source of (operating) revenue," said Finance Director Walker Johnson. Airport managers expect parking to contribute more, he said, because the daily long-term parking rate rose to $10 from $8.

E-mail: cmccauley@bhamnews.com
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Old March 12th, 2008, 03:40 AM   #77
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Stong Hiring Pace Continues

Eventually Birmingham's population growth is going to catch up with the economic prosperity of Greater Birmingham...

Strong hiring pace seen for area
1 in 3 employers plan to hire more starting in April
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
WILLIAM THORNTON
News staff writer
A survey shows Birmingham area employers expect to hire at a strong pace between April and June, defying a national trend that is seeing companies jettison jobs amid worsening economic conditions.

The Manpower Employment Outlook Survey, which is being released today, shows that 33 percent of the Birmingham area companies interviewed plan to expand their payrolls in the second quarter. In contrast, just 3 percent of the area companies surveyed expect to reduce their payrolls in the spring and early summer, Manpower spokesman Chad Brewer said.

The Manpower survey was done prior to last Friday's federal employment report that showed the nation shed 63,000 jobs in February, the highest level in nearly five years. It also was taken before Alabama posted its highest unemployment numbers since 2005, with January's rate rising to 4 percent.

Chad Carson, assistant professor of management at Samford University's Brock School of Business, said the Birmingham area has managed to insulate itself from some of the stresses affecting the national economy. Two factors working in the area's favor are a committed workforce and a prosperous regional economy.

"Alabama as a whole has done well, and to pinpoint it to one thing is difficult," Carson said. "If you look at the Gulf Coast area, at Birmingham, there continues to be a demand for jobs. We are functioning well in the climate we have."

The Manpower survey shows a little more than half of Birmingham area businesses - 57 percent - plan to maintain current staff levels in the second quarter, while 7 percent are not certain of their hiring plans.

Area employers are generally more optimistic than last year, when 30 percent of companies surveyed anticipated increased staffing while 10 percent expect job cuts, Brewer said.

"Area hiring levels appear to be stronger," he said.

The national picture is much bleaker. Employers around America foresee a hiring decline for the second quarter, reflecting a wait-and-see approach in uncertain times, said Manpower CEO Jeffrey A. Joerres. "However, the survey data points to a gradual and measured downshift, not a sudden and overwhelming change," Joerres said.

Of the 14,000 U.S. businesses surveyed, 26 percent said they planned to expand their job rolls between April and June, while 9 percent expect to fire or lay off workers. The last time the outlook was this dim was in early 2004, Manpower said.

For the coming quarter in Birmingham, job prospects appear best in durable and non-durable goods manufacturing, education, services and public administration, Manpower found. Employers in the wholesale and retail trades voiced mixed hiring intentions in the survey.

Hiring in construction, transportation, public utilities and financial services and real estate is expected to remain unchanged.

E-mail: wthornton@bhamnews.com
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Old March 13th, 2008, 01:54 AM   #78
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Mayor Langford proposes up to $20 million tax boost for Children's Hospital expansion Council upset to not be part of decision
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
ANNA VELASCO and JOSEPH D. BRYANT
News staff writers

Children's Hospital could get as much as $20 million from the city of Birmingham toward its planned $450 million expansion through a development proposal announced Tuesday by Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford.

The hospital wants to build a facility just north of its current location that would house most of its 275 licensed beds, a much larger emergency department, operating rooms and other services. Children's also plans to ask the state for more licensed beds as part of the Certificate of Need application the hospital will file with state health regulators in the next few months, said Mike Warren, Children's chief executive officer.

The expansion is still in the design phase, the price tag is a rough estimate and how many additional beds are needed is uncertain. But Warren said the project will be huge.

"This will be the largest single health care project in the state of Alabama," said Warren, who took over as CEO on Jan. 1.

Most of the project will be paid for through bonds the hospital will offer. Children's also has begun a $50 million capital campaign to raise charitable donations for the building, which is planned next to the Children's Harbor building on the block the hospital owns between Fifth and Sixth Avenues South and 16th and 17th Streets.

Warren said the proposed partnership with the city is an important show of support by local government.

"We're awfully glad for the moral support, and we're doubly glad for the financial support," Warren said.

Langford's proposal involves the city sharing with Children's the additional occupational taxes generated by the expansion - from both the construction jobs during the building and the added personnel after the facility opens.

$20 million maximum:

Warren said certain costs associated with the construction, such as permit fees, also could be split. The most Children's could benefit is $20 million, and the timeline during which the deal would run has not been set.

Warren estimates the expansion will create between 1,500 and 1,700 construction jobs during the three-year building process and as many as 500 hospital jobs over time. Children's employs 3,500 people today.

"It's a sharing mechanism," Warren said. "The city would have additional revenue from day one."

Langford said the plan is a model for the type of public-private partnership he intends to replicate with other businesses in the city.

Council unaware:

But the proposal is not a done deal.

The plan has to be approved by the City Council first, and most members of the council learned of the proposal moments before the press conference Langford held at Children's Hospital Tuesday morning. Langford asked the council to recess its meeting to join him at the event, but the council declined.

"It was disrespectful to the council that we haven't participated in the process," said Steven Hoyt, chairman of the council's economic development committee. "You're depending on the council to do their part for this project. Just as others were brought into the early planning of this project, where was the City Council? It just seems as if the mayor is deciding on what's good for Birmingham as opposed to mayor and council deciding on that."

Council President Carole Smitherman said she favors helping Children's Hospital, but she wants more answers before the council could vote on the project.

"I need details as to the number of jobs created, how long it will take to reach the requested $20 million and is there some work that the city can perform in lieu of a $20 million request?" Smitherman said. "We need to get all of our questions answered."

Langford told the council that the beauty of the development plan is that the city would keep the current level of occupational taxes and is pledging only a portion of what will be generated through the growth.

"We don't have to come up, out of the general fund, with any dollars," Langford said.

At the press conference, Langford said he would have additional announcements soon involving similar development projects, including one that could safeguard 1,000 jobs in Birmingham.

Physicians Medical Center Carraway, responsible for about 1,000 jobs, has asked the city for a rebate of occupational taxes collected from people who work at the hospital.

If Children's does not have opposition or delays through the state approval process, construction could start in the first quarter of 2009. The new hospital would open in early 2012. The first step would be in December, demolishing two buildings on the block where Children's wants to build. The Children's Harbor building will remain on that block.

Children's will keep its current hospital after the new building opens and use it for both clinical and support space, making a hospital campus that covers two city blocks.

"This is a generational project," Warren said. "This is not one that's going to be done again for the next 25 to 30 years." News staff writer Erin Stock contributed to this report.
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Old March 13th, 2008, 02:14 PM   #79
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That's a a lot of good news for a thread that hasn't seen activity since December. I hope we can handle it.
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Old April 6th, 2008, 07:13 PM   #80
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I applaud any and all efforts throughout the state to better it's self. It will always be my home. Good luck to Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Huntsville, Tuscaloosa, Dothan and all other communities throughout the state with all of your economic endeavors.
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