February 12, 2015 (Birmingham, Ala.) – The owners of the Thomas Jefferson Tower announce construction on the 20 story building at Second Avenue North and 17th Street North begins this week. The general contractor on the project is Stewart Perry Construction of Birmingham. The total project costs will be approximately $22 million. The long-vacant historic hotel property will be converted into 96 apartments and will include 7000 square feet of restaurant and retail space, as well as the restoration of the large ornate ballroom, lobby and event space.
Reed Realty Advisors will serve as lead developer on the project. Brian Beshara of Beshara Investment Group will serve as a managing partner in the project. The historic building on the west side of downtown Birmingham is a high-profile sky rise that will catalyze City Center development west of 20th Street. It is situated just east of the historic Lyric Theatre and just north of the emerging Parkside District.
“Downtown Birmingham’s occupancy rates are consistently near 100 percent. We think market demand for well-finished units with high-rise views of downtown will be strong. We hope that bringing such a uniquely significant historic building back to life will be one of those projects that can help create a vibrant center of gravity for the immediate area and even more demand for City Center living in Birmingham,” said Beshara.
The building, hailed as one of the finest hotels in the nation and the pride of Birmingham according to newspapers at the time, was built as the Thomas Jefferson Hotel and opened its doors on September 7, 1929. Plans for renovation include preservation and restoration of much of the exterior facades and interior detailing. REV Birmingham and Mayor William A. Bell, Sr.’s Office of Economic Development have been working with the development team to move smoothly through the City’s development processes and determine ways to leverage this investment for maximum positive impact.
“The Thomas Jefferson Tower will raise the bar for public and private improvement in the district and expand the downtown neighborhood,” said Birmingham Mayor William A. Bell, Sr. Alagasco and Alabama SAVES are also significant partners in the project, contributing infrastructure that will allow for gas cooktops and water-heaters in the high-end units.
The project is funded, in part, by utilizing tax credits generated through Alabama’s two year old historic tax credit program, which developers, some lawmakers and revitalization champions would like to see extended in the next legislative session. “Thomas Jefferson Tower is one of those projects that proves this tax credit returns many times over for the cities that can use it, and for the state,” said REV Birmingham CEO David Fleming. “The new Florentine Building, historic Powell School, Pizitz Building and others represent tens of millions of dollars worth of reinvestment in our City Center enabled by the State Historic Tax Credit. That’s a great return on investment for taxpayers.”
REV Birmingham (REV) revitalizes places and energizes business to create vibrancy in the City of Birmingham. REV is an economic development organization that stimulates business growth and improves quality of life in Birmingham’s City Center and its Neighborhood Commercial Centers. REV is a private-public partnership that was formed in 2012 by the strategic merger of Operation New Birmingham and Main Street Birmingham. For more information visit www.revbirmingham.org.