The city gets a National Monument, a new food hall, a luxury hotel and Topgolf.

The opening of the new downtown Publix last week caused quite a sensation.  If you were impressed by an urban grocery store, check out these goings-on:

Kelly Ingram Park - April 2012 001In one of his final presidential acts, Barack Obama signed a proclamation naming Birmingham’s historic Civil Rights District a National Monument. The designation is expected to bring additional national and international attention to Birmingham’s pivotal role in America’s Civil Rights Movement.  It also will bring more than $1.5 million in grants from the National Park Service.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and the Colored Masonic Temple are included in the designated monument area.  Also included are Bethel Baptist Church and portions of the 4th Avenue Business District, which arose when blacks were shunned by white merchants prior to desegregation.  Also included in the National Monument is the A.G. Gaston Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. met and collaborated with allies during the Birmingham campaign.  The addition of the Birmingham landmarks brings the total number of National Monuments to 129.

Exterior-Kim Graham Smith-February 2017

In other news, Birmingham’s long-awaited Pizitz Food Hall has just freshly opened to enthusiastic patrons.  Vendors in the hall serve foods from Vietnam, Ethiopia, India, Israel and Nepal, just to name a few.

The Pizitz Food Hall is housed in a 20,000-square-foot space at street level in the former Pizitz department store.  The building has received a $70 million restoration that also includes apartments and office space.  The hall eventually will have 14 food stalls and three restaurants, along with retail shops and a central bar.

Best shot of building-Kim Graham Smith-February 2017

The new Empire Hotel is also nearing its opening date.  Extensive renovation on the 1909 Empire building in the heart of downtown Birmingham brings to the city a luxury Marriott hotel with 117 guest rooms, an upscale restaurant, meeting space and a rooftop bar. The Empire building is one of four early 20th century skyscrapers that anchor what is historically referred to as “the heaviest corner on earth.”

Topgolf entertainment venue broke ground in downtown Birmingham in January and is on track to open in December.  The facility will bring 65,000 square feet of entertainment to a site near the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex and the Uptown Entertainment District.  Topgolf Birmingham will house golf games, event space, dining and more for the enjoyment of golfers and non-golfers alike.