Mertia Bakery renovation project to be finished by Barons' first pitch

The $5 million restaurant, retail and office complex planned for the former Merita Bakery location in Parkside should be open by the time the first pitch is thrown by the Birmingham Barons at Regions Field across the street.

Corporate Realty President Robert Simon, who is developing it in partnership with LIV Development, said construction to renovate the 29,000-square-foot building at First Avenue South and 14th Street will begin the end of 2014 with plans to open in the first quarter of 2015.

The Merita property was the originally planned site for Regions Field, but owners turned Simon down at the time of buying land for the Minor League Baseball field that opened on Southside in 2013.

It wasn't the right time, Simon said in an interview Oct. 17. Merita had jobs there at the time they didn't want to disrupt, but later the business model changed and so did their resistance to sell.

Now the property will be what they call an adaptive reuse, so using keeping its current structure and redoing the inside for office space – including relocation of his company's headquarters from First Avenue North – and making space for retail and a restaurant that will complement the expansion of Good People Brewing Co. across the street. Simon was scheduled to give more information about his project during the BirminghamCREW meeting at the Harbert Center Tuesday.

While Simon isn't releasing the price for the property, which gets signed in two weeks, he said it was fair, but significantly higher than if Regions Field was not there.

It should have 10,000 to 12,000 square feet of retail or office space available and some covered parking.

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