BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Neighbors are reacting to a proposal for a new logistics facility at the site of the old Century Plaza Mall along Crestwood Blvd.
City Councilor Hunter Williams said the project could add 320 full time positions and around 1,400 part-time positions.
“This is a shuddered mall that has been shuttered for over 12 years. It has not been on the city’s payroll. It has not been bringing in revenue for the neighborhood. It’s actually blightened the neighborhood,” Williams said.
The property will need to be rezoned to industrial in order for plans to go through. The Eastwood Neighborhood Association voted 5-4 against recommending the rezoning.
“We would like something to happen there. Our concern is just the zoning,” said Elaine Kinnaird, vice president of the Eastwood Neighborhood Association.
Kinnaird grew up in the area and is concerned about any change that would impact her neighborhood.
“I voted against it because it does require a zoning and that zoning change is going to change the fabric of our neighborhood. We’re a small family neighborhood, lovely park, we want to keep our identity,” Kinnaird said.
Since the property has sat vacant for more than a decade, other neighbors have had hopes that a new project would have already come to life.
“Some of the other ideas that have been proposed are not things that necessarily gain the city money or get people around that are going to spend money in the area,” said Brandon Wright.
Wright noted that one proposal involved a jail at the old site. He’s lived in the same Eastwood home since he was 3-years-old and watched the rise and fall of the mall.
“As soon as that mall closed, as soon as that commerce disappeared, so did a lot of other things,” said Wright.
Councilor Hunter Williams told CBS 42 the recent proposal is the first that does not involve the city having to offer an incentive.
The site would be designated for a package delivery service.
“A facility that is able to take in packages that are for that geographical area, put them in an electric Mercedes, an electric sprinter van, and take them to the adjoining neighborhoods so those neighborhoods can get quick delivery,” said Williams.
While Williams said some were concerned about increased traffic along Crestwood Boulevard, he added his office has fielded numerous calls from people interested in the project.
“We don’t have 15 more years to wait. Let’s keep that synergy going and let’s get that Crestwood corridor revived again,” said Williams.
A new VA Center is also being constructed in the same area. Some neighbors are hopeful a new logistics facility will add new jobs and money to the neighborhood.
“People have to each lunch. If they come in early, they have to eat breakfast. That’s more money being spent right here,” said Wright.
The Birmingham Zoning Advisory Board will meet in June, but it is unclear when the project will be discussed.
“The next step is that it will go to zoning advisory board for a recommendation which then goes to the full council for a vote,” Williams said.
If the project is approved, Williams said it could be opened by June of 2021.