Arlington-West End Urban Renewal Plan is latest example of District 6 Renaissance

By Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman, District 6

It’s hard to put into words how much community growth I’ve witnessed since I was a young girl running around in District 6. I am so proud of how far we’ve come in recent years and the spirit of community pride that is on display, day in and day out.

As someone who was born and raised in this district, I am so proud to announce a newly approved redevelopment effort that I believe will completely transform the Arlington-West End neighborhood.

On Tuesday, my colleagues and I on the Birmingham City Council unanimously approved an amendment to the Arlington-West End Urban Renewal Plan.

The City first adopted the Community Renewal Plan in 1979. Since then, 44 separate Urban Renewal Plans have been adopted citywide, which help facilitate economic development projects, housing incentives, and more.

Adopted in 1991, the Arlington-West End Urban Renewal Project has helped shepherd growth and business development in the area through a process where privately owned properties within the designated renewal area are purchased or taken by eminent domain by a municipal redevelopment authority, razed and then reconveyed to selected developers who devote them to other uses.

Tuesday’s vote to amend the Arlington-West End Urban Renewal Plan was aimed at adding 27 acres of property, including the former Larkway Gardens Apartment site and surrounding properties. Once the site is acquired, the City will send out a Request for Proposal and a developer will be selected to bring the site back to life.

The City’s Department of Planning, Engineering and Permits study of the site concluded that there is presently a sufficient number of blight factors as required by Alabama urban renewal law for the Study Area to be declared a “blighted area.”

I believe that this amendment will help continue the economic growth in an area that’s needed it for some time and I’m so happy to see this plan moving forward because the community has been asking for mixed-use development in this corridor that is near Princeton Hospital.

It is my belief that this action can lead to more development and more momentum in the area that has needed a complete transformation. This is a big step in the right direction.

According to city officials familiar with the plan, recruiting a developer for a mixed-use, mixed-income development on the site is paramount to efforts to further connect the neighborhood to the nearby Princeton hospital corridor.

The Larkway Garden site has been vacant since 2007 and became a gathering place for illicit activity. The Council approved demolition of the property in 2015 and it was demolished several months later in 2016. Neighborhood leaders have long been asking for something to be done with the vacant, overgrown site and Tuesday’s vote marks a major milestone for improving the neighborhood and removing this blighted property.

Earlier this year, the amendment for the Urban Renewal Plan was approved by the Arlington-West End Neighborhood Association, the Birmingham Planning Commission, the Council’s Planning and Zoning Committee and now the Council as a whole.

I hope that all of my friends and neighbors in the Arlington-West End Community and District 6 as a whole will join me in celebrating this momentous occasion. This redevelopment effort has been a long time coming and I’d like to thank all of our neighborhood leaders, city planners and everyone who played a part in making this possible. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the renaissance that’s taking place in District 6!

Council President Pro Tem Crystal Smitherman, District 6

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