By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
The former Carraway Hospital property in North Birmingham, vacant since 2008, will get new life after the Birmingham City Council on Tuesday unanimously rezoned the property.
Following a 45-minute public hearing, the council voted 7-0 to rezone the land around the hospital that runs along Carraway Boulevard, between 13th Avenue North and 20th Avenue North. Councilors Wardine Alexander and Steven Hoyt were not present.
The mixed-used development will create a walkable district with retail, restaurants, office space, a hotel, outdoor entertainment venues and more. It will include single-family housing, townhomes, as well as multi-family residential apartment complexes.
Plans for the site have been on again-off again for years until Tuesday when the council voted to rezone.
“The Carraway redevelopment is really going to help jumpstart the economic growth in the northern corridor in Birmingham,” said Council President William Parker, who represents Norwood, an adjacent neighborhood to the Carraway site. “We’re not going to stop there. We have a lot more work to do across all our districts but today is a big day for this site and the people on that side of town.”
Corporate Realty, a Birmingham-based commercial real estate firm, which is spearheading the project, said the rezoning will transform the area around the vacant 50-acre site and tie into other development including communities north of downtown, the Uptown business district and the new Protective Life Stadium currently under construction.
“This project is a major step forward for the city to address a property that has been blighted for many years,” said Councilor Darrell O’Quinn, who represents parts of the area. “… you combine that with the construction at the BJCC (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex), the forthcoming project at Southtown Court housing, the Interstate 20/59 bridge project… this all adds up to a tremendous transformative change in the city of Birmingham.”
Residents told councilors how excited they were about the redevelopment.
“I have lived in the Norwood neighborhood for more than 40 years and was president of the neighborhood association for over 20 years,” said Robert Gilmore. “I also served on the Carraway Nonprofit Advisory Board. I have seen this hospital at its height, and I have seen it demise. I’m just like all of the other neighbors in Norwood, we want to see something happen at the Carraway site and . . . we just thank and praise God that the city council voted to support this.”
Barbara Thomas, also a Norwood resident, said the redevelopment is much needed.
“Over the years Carraway has become more and more run down,” she said. “It is depressing driving by and seeing what it has become. We want to see this area revitalized [and become] a community of choices for working, living and leisure.”
James Clark, Norwood Neighborhood Association President and Northside Community President, said this has been a long-time coming.
“As a courtesy, our neighborhood voted unanimously in support for the rezoning of the Carraway project in 2009 and we have been waiting a long time. It is about time something happens to Carraway Hospital.”
Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin said he was born in the hospital and it “pained” him to see how the structure had deteriorated.
“I think you all know blight removal has been a priority and has not been isolated to residential and we have [also] considered the commercial blight,” Woodfin said. “It’s good to see that there has been movement toward [removal] of these things … so I’m glad to see us get to this point, but I’m mainly glad to see us get to this point on behalf of the residents.”
Councilor John Hilliard, chair of the council’s economic development committee, said Birmingham is still moving forward in the midst of a pandemic.
“This is not just happening over night, this has been going on I know since I got here (in 2017) …we must care about the community and the people we represent, he said.