The Park at Wood Station: Rebirth of a Historic Birmingham Neighborhood
Regions, community and neighborhood leaders partner to deliver new housing in East Birmingham.
JULY 30, 2014 - In a tree-lined neighborhood of Woodlawn, a lot stood empty except for eight shovels, adorned with construction hard hats, wedged into freshly shoveled dirt. A few feet away, a few dozen onlookers, each with their own special connection to the neighborhood, eagerly awaited a ceremonial groundbreaking.
A historic neighborhood just a few miles from the city center in Birmingham, Ala., Woodlawn is in the midst of a steady return after years of neglect. This new mixed-income housing development serves a significant milestone in the community’s renaissance.
“It’s amazing to see this kind of project come into my neighborhood,” said Arnold King, president of the South Woodlawn Neighborhood Association and a lifelong resident. “You see empty lots. I see houses. I’m so excited for our future.”
City and neighborhood officials said the $13.6 million The Park at Wood Station is the latest, and largest, revitalization effort in east Birmingham. Once completed, The Park at Wood Station will be a landscaped 64-unit townhome community — the next step in a long-term effort to reclaim Woodlawn’s vitality of the past.
The community will feature 28 two-bedroom units and 36-three bedroom units, all with more than 1,700-square feet. Rent will be less than $600 a month.
“Great things usually don’t happen by accident,” said Leroy Abrahams, North Central Alabama area president for Regions. “Great things are happening because of the coordination of a purpose-driven organization.”
Regions is investing $11.4 million in equity to the development. Further, Regions is purchasing $11 million in low-income housing tax credits to help the development move forward. Protective Life is providing the $1.4 million mortgage. Funding will include $1.1 million in low-income housing credits from the Alabama Housing Finance Authority.
Yet the real nucleus of the effort to restore Woodlawn is an active community and neighborhood association and local officials, who are also working throughout the neighborhood, including at the local high school, to improve the quality of life
“What’s happening today is an example of what happens when a community puts its heart in an effort,” said Sally Mackin, executive director of the Woodlawn Foundation.
Added Birmingham Mayor William Bell, “This is just the beginning. We have a lot of great plans, not just for Woodlawn but for the entire city of Birmingham.”