By Chaise Sanders
Come summer of 2021, The World Games will have Five Points West—along with the entire City of Birmingham—bustling with athletes from around the globe!
This neighborhood with a rich history has residents that are continuously enriching the area. Here’s more about Five Points West and what makes it unique to Birmingham.
Where is Five Points West?
Nestled between Ensley, Smithfield and West End sits Five Points West which consists of six of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhoods:
- Belview Heights
- Bush Hills
- Central Park
- Ensley Highlands
- Green Acres
Five Points West was also known as Shopping City in the mid-1900s and was once the original shopping epicenter of Birmingham. It was the largest shopping development in Alabama during the 1920s. The shopping center even had its own trolley service to carry shoppers around the center.
Five Points West was also home to the historic Alabama State Fairgrounds. It was a 117-acre exhibition ground that held the Birmingham International Raceway and Alabama State Fair. The iron man himself, Vulcan, was once displayed at the Fairgrounds after it was brought to Birmingham from the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri.
The Fairgrounds also had a small amusement park named “Kiddieland” which operated from 1948 to the mid-1980s. There was a drive-in movie theatre known as “Fair Park”. To make things even better, there was a pool complete with floodlights and a man-made beach in the 1950s.
The glory of the Alabama State Fairgrounds wasn’t shared amongst all of Birmingham. Administrators closed the Alabama State Fairgrounds to avoid court-ordered desegregation. Years afterward, it was used by the Birmingham Police Department to hold arrested demonstrators after the city jails were full.
The Crossplex Village is the newest development in Five Points West, just in time for the 2021 World Games. This redevelopment project encompasses over 80 acres of the former Alabama State Fairgrounds.
This new, expansive development includes a state-of-the-art athletic facility complete with an Olympic-sized pool and indoor track stadium. The newest additions to the Crossplex Village include a hotel, restaurants, and a Starbucks unlike any other in Alabama.
If you’re looking to catch a few games when the World Games 2021 comes to the Magic City you’re going to want to be in Five Points West! The Crossplex is one of several venues across the city that will be hosting events for the games.
The Five Points West community has the first Starbucks of its kind in all of Alabama.
The Starbucks Community Store initiative began in 2015 to help create local jobs. It connects youth to education and employment opportunities. They offer in-store training so that trainees have the chance to earn a National Retail Federation Customer Service Certification. This will give them a competitive advantage throughout their future careers.
Bama Health Foods
Jacquie Fazekas is Canadian by birth but grew up in Philadelphia. After visiting Birmingham, she quickly decided to make the Magic City her home. As an advocate for living a healthier life, Jacquie saw a gap in the Five Points West neighborhood. There weren’t many healthy food options in the area.
It was fate when she stumbled into the Health Foods West store in Five Points West and met the store manager Steven Cox. The two had the same vision: to provide the Five Points West neighborhood with healthier options.
Along with hosting leadership workshops, Bama Health Foods equips the Five Points West neighborhood with a center dedicated to educating, nourishing, and serving the community.
Marino’s Market has been a staple in the Five Points West neighborhood for decades. Founded in the early 1950s, Joe Marino’s mission was to serve his local Birmingham community with quality groceries at affordable prices. Even after experiencing the economic decline that caused many grocers to close, Anthony Marino (the founder’s grandson) refused to leave.
Thanks to a $4.2 million dollar renovation, the store is able to provide the community with healthier options. In a city where 69 percent of people live in a food desert, Anthony Marino saw how important the grocery store was to the area.
“I’m doing this because I’m trying to get people interacting with and involved in their communities,” said Marino.
Marino’s is more than just a grocery store. Anthony Marino provides college scholarships through his Education with a Purpose program. He has also been recognized by the NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference for his achievements within the Five Points West neighborhood.
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