The way Hunter Renfroe sees it, if Urban Supply and the new vision for Birmingham’s Parkside were up and running right now, it would be “the” destination in the age of the pandemic.
Renfroe, founder and principal of Orchestra Partners, said bars and restaurants are currently struggling with the need to produce revenue while making patrons feel safe from COVID-19. Yet the vision for the Urban Supply project, which should hopefully open in a post-COVID Birmingham, looks suited to the needs of the moment, with open air entertainment venues.
“I’m glad that we approach real estate in terms of outdoor spaces and walkability,” Renfroe said. “Outdoor spaces and people interacting outside is much more of a prerequisite for a successful project in the present time. I think over the long term our project has always been positioned really well. If we’d already built it and it was occupied, it would probably be the most active place in Birmingham. It’s next to a park and it’s centered around a giant pedestrian pathway.”
Last November, Orchestra Partners announced a new Parkside master plan with officials from the city, Alabama Power, Freshwater Land Trust, REV Birmingham and Urban Impact. It was conceived with landscape architect Tom Leader, the lead planner and designer behind Railroad Park. Leader is the founder and principal of California’s TLS Landscape Architecture.
Orchestra Partners is the primary developer. Renfroe said the plan is largely complete and designs will soon be submitted for permit. Construction is expected to begin next year. What’s on the board is turning the warehouses of Birmingham’s past into cool entertainment, office, dining and recreational spaces.
What’s being called Urban Supply in Parkside is envisioned as around 100,000 square feet of commercial space adjacent to Good People Brewery. The project converts warehouses into one complex for fitness and wellness-focused businesses, and transforms another for fine dining. It also creates an “alley” of activity, entertainment and commerce, connecting the two focuses of the developments. Lyndsy Yim and Haden Smith at Retail Specialists will be handling the leasing of the Urban Supply project.