Asked in an interview what has recently attracted businesses such as Topgolf to downtown Birmingham and Comfort Inn & Suites to Five Points West, Mayor William Bell replied with a chuckle, “I would say the mayor.”
In the past month, Birmingham officials have announced and approved new businesses and developments in several areas of the city. And more are to come, they say.
While Bell may have lightheartedly taken credit for the businesses, he said it has been a team effort.
“It starts with a commitment of our city government that we will create an environment for businesses to come,” Bell said. “We build a relationship (with businesses), and out of that relationship comes a certain level of confidence that a city will commit to something, and whatever they commit to they will back it up.”
Bell said the city has “open and frank discussions” with developers about what the city needs, and the developers in turn let the city know what is needed to make developments happen. “I think it’s that openness between the developer and municipal administration,” he said.
Attracting businesses has a domino effect, the mayor said.
“We’re in discussions with other companies that may lead to other development in the near future,” Bell said. “What we have tried to focus on from day one in my administration is how do we build a strong core in the city that will lead to expanded development that radiates out into our neighborhoods and communities.”
On Tuesday, the Birmingham City Council voted unanimously to approve a $3.74 million infrastructure package for the CrossPlex Village retail and commercial development with a Comfort Inn & Suites, Starbucks and Walgreens as anchors.
Last month, Topgolf, a global sports entertainment venue, said it will open its first Alabama location in downtown Birmingham by late 2017. The City Council approved $1.5 million in financial incentives over eight years and rezoned property to make way for the venue.
The three-level, 65,000-square-foot, 10-acre digital golfing venue will be built along 12th Avenue near Carraway Boulevard. The 10-acre property will be leased from the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex Authority.