By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
Eric Guster, local attorney and real estate developer, is bringing a roughly 6,000-square-foot retail center with four tenants, two of which will be health care facilities, to Birmingham’s Five Points West community as part of a new retail center.
VIPcare, one of the medical tenants, focuses on medical care for patients age 60 and older. The other medical tenant was not disclosed.
Increasing access to health care options for Black Birmingham residents is critical for their well-being, said Guster, whose own law firm will have an office in $2 million center to be located at 2250 Bessemer Road,
“So many African Americans don’t have access to health care just to have a checkup, just to see what that leg pain is and when you don’t have normal, accessible health care. issues go unchecked, or medical appointments are missed, then longevity of a person’s life is greatly decreased,” Guster said.
The new health care facilities in the retail center will be on the corner right across from the Birmingham CrossPlex, Guster said, making it convenient for many older residents in the area “who deserve high quality health care, and don’t have to go all the way downtown … they can go right down the street,” Guster said.
There is about 1,500 square feet of space left for another tenant, ideally a professional office for a high-quality financial service provider or another medical provider, he said. Tenant spaces will begin buildouts in September.
While the retail center is already situated on a prominent corner across from The CrossPlex, the cornerstone of the building displays two massive number fives that will be made out of glass and backlit upon completion, further increasing the property’s visibility. Roman Gary of CCR Architecture & Interiors is the architect that came up with the idea.
“The building sits on one of the best and busiest corners in the city, and I wanted to build something there to pay homage to where I grew up,” Guster told the Birmingham Business Journal.
Guster Law Firm acquired the former Regions Bank property for $100,000 from the city of Birmingham in September 2020.
A graduate of the former Ensley High School, Guster said, he wanted his first-ever development project on the West Side to be at the site.
The city-owned property sat vacant for way too long, “but fortunately, Mayor Woodfin and his administration saw the vision and allowed me to buy it and to redevelop it,” Guster said.
The planned center is important because “new, high-quality developments can jumpstart” a neighborhood, he said.
“When businesses, for example, see that we’re building a $2 million building on this corner, and it’s successful, then others who can make those types of things happen that’s why it’s so necessary to build it … and make the development successful,” the developer said.
The timing of the investment, set to be complete sometime in the first quarter of 2024, couldn’t be better with upcoming developments like the new Food Giant also in Five Points West and the planned family fun center for the CrossPlex coming online.
“When you have those types of investments, then other people tend to come. Investors want to spend money where they are comfortable that they will be able to make a profit. That’s the whole purpose of an investment … and when others go somewhere to invest, and they make money, it creates a level of confidence for others who can do the same thing,” Guster said.