Saturday, August 6, 2011

Can Birmingham be saved?

I have pondered this for years now and wondering if this major city can return from the abyss of mediocrity.  It seems that everytime is something proposed, initiated, or mentioned that is productive to the civic pride of the region that the C.A.V.E. people whom will show their asses.  Also there is my personal term "P.A.V.E." people as well that exist nowadays, which are Politicians Against Virtually Everything, mainly because they didn't think of the idea themselves or because their pocket-lining lobbyists wouldn't benefit from the idea/concept/initiative.

A number of fellow bloggers have blogged on this including Mack Lyons, Wade on Birmingham, Kyle Whitmire, among many others that have echoed what I've been saying for years that Birmingham has civic disengagement or pride issues.  Meanwhile, in the surrounding suburbs there are Y.I.M.B.Y., which is Yes In My Back Yard, which is why the minor league AA, Birmingham Barons, wind up in Hoover at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium (which the name within itself is ironic), i.e. Regions Park in the first place.  Hoover, which has a serious case of "Anywhere syndrome" because the place no sense of place at all.  It's home to the  now in-its-twilight-of-existence, Riverchase Galleria, mixed-used development and Alabama's largest retail center.  Yet, it's boosters and chamber of commerce are its main culprits saying "Hoover Has It", when in reality it doesn't.  Even retail is starting to leave Hoover for other ares like most places in suburbia when its past its heyday.  

Back to the main discussion, Birmingham has so much potential from its well-organized urban core with a southwest-to-northeast gridiron layout to its wealth of areas worthy of redevelopment.  I was recently at economic development conference where the topic of most discussions were greenfield developments into 'industrial sites', which are about as need as another hole in my head.   Meanwhile, the truth of the manner is Birmingham has a plethora of brownfield sites that are mostly former heavy iron and coal processing facility sites.  These sites can be home to number of redevelopments such as mixed-use projects that could easily be integrated into the urban form of Birmingham's grid layout.  Also with the strength of UAB, the Innovation Depot, and their ability to create a variety of spin-off start-up businesses can reinvent Birmingham's economic base.  Birmingham is no longer the largest financial hub outside of the New York Tri-State region, but it has more than enough resources at its dispose to produce a skilled workforce.  Birmingham has the strong base of smaller, regional financial institutions that could aided in them building up into its next generation of major financial heavyweights.  

Birmingham should also serious explore what is its internal problems and stop electing reactionary and "catchphrase salesmen" as its elected officials such as mayor and city council members.  It's obvious the constant rehashing of the same stock of characters whom have lived and breathe manipulating the lowest common denominator of the populous hasn't worked at all.  I don't reside in the city anymore and honestly have very little interest to return anytime soon because the place isn't where I need to be nor does it feel like "home" anymore.  However, I know enough about said place to know it has the potential to rebuild itself but it has to shed some of the ailments.  


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