By Michael Tomberlin
The $24 million redevelopment of the American Life building has passed the halfway point on its way to opening up later this year as 140 “workforce housing” apartments.
Developer Ed Ticheli took Alabama NewsCenter and officials, including U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell, on a tour of the 12-story building to showcase how the former office tower is being transformed into apartments with more affordable rent for those wanting to live downtown closer to where they work.
“We’re at 50 percent construction completion today,” Ticheli said. “It’s a stellar day for the American Life building.”
The project is being viewed nationally as an example of how to use the new federal opportunity zone program, which gives tax incentives to investors in economically distressed areas deemed opportunity zones in each state. The investments are designed to revitalize properties and spur economic development.
“This is the model for the United States opportunity zone project,” Ticheli said. “I’m very proud of that.”
Framing and drywall of the 140 apartments has started. There will be studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units available with rents ranging from $700 to $1,100 per month with the median price coming in about $900 per month.
“Very shortly, you’re going to see finished units in here,” Ticheli said. “The model will be coming. We’re going to start to lease in the next 30 days, pre-leasing.”
In addition to an $11 million investment from PNC’s OPZONE Community Development Fund and a $4.2 million PNC Bank loan, the redevelopment has received public and private funding and is accessing state and federal historic tax credits. AlabamaSAVES is providing a $2 million loan for the project’s green initiatives. The city of Birmingham approved $400,000 this week in infrastructure improvements tied to the project.
“This has been so many hands on the rope to make this possible for the city of Birmingham,” Ticheli said.
The 84,000-square-foot building on the corner of 18th Street and Third Avenue North has the ability to spur development in northeast downtown Birmingham.
“This will be like a generator for new things to come,” Ticheli predicted.
The apartments will provide great views and have natural light, thanks to about 140 windows on each side of the building.
“This place is like a light box and you’ve got unobstructed views of the city because we don’t have any other buildings next to us,” Ticheli said.
Five of the apartments are being reserved for the Dannon Project to rent to its clients. The Birmingham nonprofit helps people reintegrate into the workforce after prison or other obstacles.
Ticheli has been seeking to renovate the American Life Building, also known as the Stonewall Building, for decades. The project was announced with great fanfare in April 2019 and construction began in August.
This article originally appeared on www.Alabama NewsCenter.com.