“We are about to start vertical construction of three buildings – a hotel, a building with Starbucks in it and a building with five other restaurants in it,” said Bob Nesbitt, principal with Engel Realty.
The city of Birmingham is now adding $6 million in infrastructure improvements, paving the way for the $21 million first phase of development of the commercial shopping center surrounding the CrossPlex sports venue.
The first phase will open fully leased, Nesbitt told members of BirminghamCREW at the real estate organization’s monthly meeting on Tuesday.
Restaurants on board include Cicis Pizza, Golden Rule Bar-B-Q, Ninja Japanese Sushi & Steakhouse, Habanero’s Mexican Grill, Firehouse Subs and Lin Garden Chinese buffet. A Yogurt Street shop is also planned.
The Cicis Pizza will be in the same building as the Starbucks. The Golden Rule will be a stand-alone restaurant while the remaining eateries will be in another building.
Nesbitt said the Starbucks and restaurants could be open in as soon as six months and the hotel completed about this time next year.
The thousands of athletes and families who visit CrossPlex for track and field, swimming and other events each year have wanted a convenient hotel and more eating options. Nesbitt said Five Points West residents have wanted the same thing.
The Starbucks will be larger than usual because it will also house the coffee company’s Youth Leadership Development Program. Nesbitt said this will be the third one in the country and one of 13 Starbucks hopes to have in place this year. The program will train 30 young adults each year in restaurant management and customer service.
“I’m as excited about that as I am anything,” Nesbitt said.
The Comfort Inn and Suites is also atypical for Birmingham.
“For this area, it’s bigger than what we normally see,” Nesbitt said. “Plus, it will have larger meeting rooms in it that, for the community, will accommodate weddings and meetings and family reunions and things like that.”
Of the 101 rooms, 26 will be suites. The Choice Hotels project helped get the development going after a few other failed attempts.
“That really was the seed we needed to get the project off the ground,” Nesbitt said.
Another difference was the approach. Nesbitt said he looked at the development as separate buildings rather than trying to construct the entire center at one time. By breaking it into buildings and phases, it made it easier to find capital and tenants.
For the capital, CrossPlex Village is relying on New Market Tax Credits. The program allows investors to earn tax credits for investing in new markets or distressed areas. In the case of CrossPlex Village, entities are able to use $7 million in investments against a leveraged loan of $14 million from BBVA Compass.
A Walgreens is also slated for CrossPlex Village and future development will add clothing stores and other retail. A combination movie theater and bowling alley has expressed interest in joining the development, Nesbitt said.
A new home for the A.G. Gaston Boys & Girls Club is planned behind the current CrossPlex arena.
Hopes are high that much if not all of CrossPlex Village will be in place in time for the 2021 World Games. Birmingham is hosting the international event, with CrossPlex figuring as a main venue.
“CrossPlex will be a focal point of the World Games and the mayor and the whole city of Birmingham are just so excited to have these amenities coming on line in time for the World Games,” Nesbitt said.