A downtrodden city-center became a thriving greenspace, stitched together from Birmingham’s fragments into a modern model of a destination ready for tomorrow.
Cities across America have found creative ways to integrate green infrastructure with recreation in new and existing parks.
A lot of cities set up development along rivers, lakes, or ocean ways, but landlocked Birmingham was established by railways — a track system that led to Birmingham’s glory during the industrial revolution. Over the last century, industrialism bowed to commercialism, and the once bustling city center of Birmingham became somewhat dilapidated, desolate, and under-developed. An uprising in urban development throughout the 2000s suggested the slowly rebounding city’s core needed a high-visibility project for future development — something to draw needed attention to Birmingham’s newfound potential as a thriving metropolis.
Corporate Realty worked alongside the the Birmingham City Planning Commission, Urban Land Institute, Friends of the Railroad Reservation District, and many others to plan and develop a park project — complete with 19-acres of green infrastructure, wetland pond, lakeside boardwalk, an 80-foot-long rain curtain, and a creative design that still makes trainspotting possible downtown. The park features bike and jogging paths, a lake, a man-made stream, impressive landscaping, playgrounds, multiple skateboarding wells and enough open space to hold several festivals or events at once.
Since opening Railroad Park in 2010, downtown has seen great growth, with $2.5+ billion in development around the park, including a hotel, a renovated vaudeville theater, and several condominium developments. Moreover, Regions Field, an 8,500-seat baseball stadium has even brought the minor-league Birmingham Barons back downtown from the suburbs.
Design and construction, which cost $23 million, was paid for by a mixture of private and public sources, including the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the Railroad Park Foundation, Alabama Power, Regions Bank, the City of Birmingham, Jefferson County, and even the EPA’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.