By: Jonathan Crain
REV Birmingham

Now more than ever, outdoor public spaces are the living rooms of our city. Well-designed and maintained streetscapes encourage people from all over the metro area to eat, shop, work, and exercise downtown.

As Birmingham mulls investment in its main street ahead of The World Games 2022, it should consider that a public realm that is intentionally focused on people – and their COVID-era space needs – creates the kind of vibrancy that makes a city attractive and exciting. Investment in more complete downtown streets not only provides quality of life improvements, but it’s also proven to produce significant, measurable economic impact,” said REV Birmingham CEO David Fleming. 

The City of Lancaster California has seen a sizeable return on its $11.6 million complete street investment in West Lancaster Boulevard. Two lanes of traffic were removed in favor of a rambla, which is a tree-lined median for gathering and parking. This took the street from four travel lanes to two which increased safety and comfort for pedestrians by providing more space, and slowing traffic speeds in front of businesses.

West Lancaster Boulevard pre-COVID.

According to the City of Lancaster, the project spurred $125 million in private investment and more than $273 million in total economic output, including 48 businesses and 1,902 new jobs (1,100 construction and 802 permanent jobs). 

Dubuque, Iowa used streetscape improvements to rehabilitate their Millwork District from a dilapidated post-industrial area into a vibrant, walkable, and economically viable multi-use neighborhood. The city made pedestrian-focused improvements including sidewalk replacement, bulb-outs, street lights, and mid-block crossings on four key streets in the district.

Millwork District

Since the project’s completion, The Millwork District has seen $34 million in private investment with another $150 million real estate investment in the pipeline. The neighborhood has become a destination for arts and nightlife. 

West Jefferson North Carolina, in partnership with the North Carolina DOT, spent $300,000 improving the streetscape on 3 blocks of its historic downtown. In order to calm traffic and make the area more welcoming to pedestrians, NCDOT replaced two signalized intersections with 4-way stops, added diagonal parking, curb extensions, high-visibility mid-block crossings, and street furniture. 

West Jefferson’s historic downtown

NCDOT studied the outcomes of the project and reported consistent travel times for vehicle traffic across the old and new street configurations, but saw a 24-percent decrease in vehicle crashes and a 53-percent reduction in vehicle-related injury

Local leaders specifically credit the slower traffic and improved pedestrian environment with bringing 10 new businesses, 55 new jobs and $500,000 worth of investment to their downtown. Jefferson Ave is a prime example of the wide range of interconnected benefits a pedestrian-focused streetscape project can yield. 

20th Street North is Birmingham’s main street. It should be an inviting place for people from all over the city to enjoy. Investment in Birmingham’s 20th Street North will help the city put its best foot forward on a global scale for the World Games, while also providing economic, safety, and aesthetic benefits to Birmingham residents far into the future. 


  • Taking a look back at the (20th) Street Party!

    Filed Under: Downtown Birmingham, Front Page, Potential-Proving, Yaysayers

    Okay – you probably know by now that we recently wrapped up construction on 20th Street (and if you didn’t, surprise – now you know!). We held a street party to wrap it all up and it was a huge success, if we do say so ourselves. There’s nothing better than seeing hundreds of people come together to celebrate the revitalization of their beloved city. How about we continue the celebrations and take a look back at the (20th) Street Party that took place last week? And be sure to stop by and check out all the fun new additions to Birmingham’s main street next time you head down there!

    Read More

  • The 20th Street Refresh is coming to an end - but there's still more to come!

    Filed Under: Downtown Birmingham, Front Page, Potential-Proving, Uncategorized, Yaysayers

    This Friday, May 20th, we will be having a (20th) Street Party (which you can read more about here) to celebrate the end of our Birmingham Green Refresh! While this certainly calls for a celebration, the party doesn’t stop there. We will still be adding some finishing touches to the street after the (20th) Street Party. These additional touches will help make Birmingham’s main street more vibrant, interactive, and efficient! Additions will include smart trash cans, free libraries, street performers, and more!

    Read More

  • Celebrating the Birmingham Green Refresh with a (20th) Street Party!

    Filed Under: Downtown Birmingham, Front Page, Potential-Proving

    We are approaching the finish line for the 20th Street Refresh, which calls for a celebration – and you’re invited! The City Center Business Improvement District (BID), funded by downtown property owners, is partnering with the City of Birmingham and REV Birmingham to celebrate a refreshed Birmingham Green. Come join the party on May 20th from 4 to 8 p.m (with a special celebration happening at 6 p.m.)!

    Read More

Related News

  • The Big Pitch contestants: where are they now?

    Filed Under: Big Pitch, Front Page, Small Business, Uncategorized

    If you’ve been following REV for a while, you probably remember The Big Pitch Competitions we used to hold back in the day. The Big Pitch presented by PNC was essentially our own little version of Shark Tank. And a lot of your favorite local businesses that participated in this competition now have active retail storefronts that you can go check out. Let’s start with some of our finalists that are based in the City of Birmingham and see what they’ve been up to!

    Read More

  • Downtown Birmingham's latest development is proof that small buildings can have big impacts too!

    Filed Under: Developer, Downtown Birmingham, Filling Vacant Spaces, Front Page, Potential-Proving, Uncategorized

    Have you been to Downtown Birmingham’s newest development located on 25th Street? If not, you need to head down there ASAP and check it out! This new single story development is a product of a collaboration between David Baker Architects (DBA) and Locke General Contractors, led by DBA’s very own Amanda Loper. It is intended to be a “collaborative commercial space in a catalyst development area of Birmingham.” Both DBA and Locke General Contractors will be tenants of the space, along with June Coffee Roasters, Zephyr Barber, and Last Call Baking Cooperative!

    Read More

  • The music scene in downtown Birmingham is booming!

    Filed Under: Downtown Birmingham, Events, Front Page, Uncategorized

    One of Birmingham’s many hidden treasures is the music scene downtown. The sheer volume of concert venues we have in downtown Birmingham is something most people aren’t even aware of – but it really is remarkable! There is truly something for everyone, whether you’re into the smaller, more intimate venues or the large-scale venues for those big name artists. Keep reading to check out some of the cool venues downtown Birmingham has to offer.

    Read More