Special to The Birmingham Times
Three different Birmingham projects received recognition recently from Main Street Alabama for their positive impact on the city.
Main Street Alabama focuses on bringing jobs, dollars and people back to Alabama’s historic communities. Economic development is at the heart of its efforts to revitalize downtowns and neighborhood commercial districts.
Gilmer Drug Company, a pharmacy downtown in Ensley, and a REV Birmingham Urban Food Project, earned a Community Award for its commitment and contributions to the surrounding area.
REV Birmingham was recognized for its Clean & Clear 5 Points South community project, the most recent iteration of which transformed Valley View Park. REV Birmingham also won an award for its business-accelerating REVeal Kitchen in the Pizitz Food Hall, which is currently home to Bitty’s Living Kitchen.
REV’s mission is to create vibrancy in commercial districts by filling vacant spaces and growing sustainable businesses:
Here’s a look at award winners from the Birmingham area:
Gilmer Drug Company
For 20 years the family-owned-and-operated Gilmer Drug Company, led by owner Jimmy Crane, has filled over 150 prescriptions each day in Ensley. The business sells fresh produce to the community and has been doing so continuously for two years as a corner store, part of REV Birmingham’s Urban Food Project: Farm to Corner Store initiative. Gilmer Drug is known for its friendly service, the generosity of the Crane family, and the dedication the business has to serving the Ensley community.
Gilmer Drug lends economic vibrancy to Ensley by remaining in the heart of the Ensley business district and is housed in a 100 plus year-old building, filled with character. As a corner store partner in the Rev Birmingham Farm to Corner Store initiative, Gilmer helps reduce the barriers to fresh produce access that many Ensley residents encounter due to the public transportation costs or limited vehicle access that arise when attempting to travel to grocery stores in other parts of the city. Gilmer also participates in the Urban Food Project’s Farm Fresh Cooking demonstrations, teaching customers how to cook the produce they can buy on site.
Gilmer Drug now has an in-store community gathering space and REV partnered with Gilmer to bring Alacare, the Literacy Council, Regions Bank, and the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama together to provide new services to residents, making Gilmer Drug a stronger pillar of the community.
Clean & Clear Five Points South
Clean & Clear Five Points South is a quarterly cleanup event in partnership with the community’s stakeholders. From trash collection to clearing sidewalks and greenery efforts, this is a day to give back to Five Points South. Volunteering for Clean & Clear is becoming a staple event for residents, visitors and business owners. There are always many projects and needs to tackle. It is also a great opportunity for area residents, visitors and businesses to explore the area.
Clean & Clear Five Points South has taken place on March 27, May 20 and July 22, 2017. In total, 106 volunteers have contributed 331 hours of work. Key participants include area church congregations, residents and merchants. Approximately 2,720 feet of sidewalk and alley have been cleaned and cleared collecting 3,812 pounds of trash and debris. Beautification efforts like this can help create a higher quality of life by attracting visitors and residents, reducing crime, encouraging new businesses, and creating pride in Five Points South.
REVeal Kitchen is an initiative that allows REV Birmingham to drive toward mission pillars. The goal is to provide a low cost, low barrier opportunity for aspiring restaurateurs to establish a physical presence as a practical and innovative stepping stone to their eventual brick and mortar location. Tropicaleo, the first tenant, is a Puerto Rican restaurant owned by Gabriel Marerro & Isabel Medina. After graduating on July 21 from REVeal, they’re now building out a restaurant in the Avondale neighborhood. The second and current tenant, Kim Brock of Bitty’s Living Kitchen, is bringing healthy and vegan fare to the food hall.
Bayer Properties engaged REV Birmingham with discussions about activating a food stall in the Pizitz Food Hall with culinary clients from the CO.STARTERS business development initiative, on which REV partners with Create Birmingham. Bayer along with financial sponsors and in-kind supporters like Regions Bank, Appleseed Workshop, Wood Fruitticher, and Buffalo Rock chipped in support to help make the project feasible.