Park Place (Hope VI project)
Park Place is a 12-block mixed-income housing development constructed under the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's "Hope VI" program. It occupies the area between 22nd and 26th Street North/Red Mountain Expressway and between 5th and 8th Avenue North.
In the first project of its kind in the Birmingham District, HUD and the Federal Housing Authority provided $49.2 million of $56 million in public funds for the $100+ million overall redevelopment. Other funds came from the developers and equity investors. The developer, Metropolitan Garden Developers LLC was created as a joint venture of Integral Properties of Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham's Sloss Real Estate. They contracted with Williams-Blackstock Architects for the design work, and with the Auburn Center for Architecture and Urban Studies to help generate a palette of appropriate architectural treatments for the various housing blocks. Integral and Doster Construction headed the contracting team.
The project took the place of the 6-block Central City Housing Project/Metropolitan Gardens, first constructed in 1940, and replaced it with 471 leased units (241 fully-subsidized, 82 partly-subsidized, and 148 market-rate units). Plans call for the future addition of owner-occupied townhouses and retail/office development. The project is characterized by traditionally-styled multi-level apartment blocks and townhouses with individual entranceways and porches set on tree-lined streets with parking areas in the interior of the blocks. The project area also includes Phillips High School, Marconi Park, the YMCA Youth Building, Birmingham Health Care clinic, and the Jones Valley Urban Farm.
The former public housing project was demolished beginning in 2002. The first tenants of buildings 14 and 15 of the new Park Place community signed leases in November 2004 and the first 197 units filled quickly. When the 198 unit Phase II was completed in December 2006 the rental market was softer and leasing progressed slowly until Fall 2007.
The project caused controversy by displacing families from downtown (only 60 of Metropolitan Gardens' 2,500 residents returned to Park Place) and by being slow to provide promised services to residents. The development experienced a high rate of turnover and has had periods with high vacancy rates. On the other hand, Park Place has been credited with reducing crime levels in the downtown area and stimulating redevelopment in surrounding areas.
- Nicholson, Gilbert (November 21, 2004) "Home is where the Hope VI is." Birmingham Business Journal
- Enochs, Liz (February 2008) "Downtown Turnaround: Birmingham HOPE VI project overcomes soft market, local resistance to downtown living to reach 100 percent occupancy." Affordable Housing Finance
- Gray, Jeremy (January 22, 2012) "Park Place town house community prospers in downtown Birmingham." Birmingham News