A new campus is in the works for Red Mountain Theatre Co. (Red Mountain Threatre Co.)
BIRMINGHAM, AL – When Railroad Park was developed in downtown Birmingham in 2010, skeptics said the park’s location was not ideal and that the surrounding area would prevent the park from thriving. Nine years later, the Parkside district is booming, with the addition of Regions Field, new apartments, restaurants and offices. This week, two more projects in the area were announced.
Red Mountain Theatre Company announced Wednesday that it will build a new Arts Campus located at 1600 3rd Ave. South between 16th Street and 17th Street South next to Regions Field.
"It has been a dream for us to consolidate our programming in order to better serve our community," said RMTC executive director Keith Cromwell. "We envision an arts campus where artists can create, students can develop life – and theatre – skills, and where for profit and nonprofit can drive economic growth together."
Architectural design is well underway for the Arts Campus, which will include state-of-the art rehearsal and classroom spaces, a next generation 400-seat theatre and administrative and shop offices, according to RMTC Board President and community leader Kathryn Harbert.
The development in the district does not stop there. A team that includes companies from Birmingham, New York City and San Francisco announced plans Thursday to transform a half-block across from Railroad Park on First Avenue South into 250,000 square feet of hospitality, residential and commercial space, according to a report by the Birmingham Business Journal.
The project will include a 140-room boutique hotel, cultural and event space, residential units for sale and retail and studio spaces on the ground floor. The team behind the project includes Birmingham native and New York venture capitalist Jared Weinstein, Grant Brigham and Tommy Brigham of ARC Realty.
Railroad Park, the catalyst for the exponential growth in the area, benefits from all of the development, according to the park’s executive director Camille Spratling.
"We’re thrilled every time we get new neighbors," Spratling said. "Every new tenant, every new project that’s announced has added to the vibrancy of this area and with that, boosted economic impact for the entire city."
The news of the latest developments are no exception, she added.
"When I hear about things like hotels, restaurants, businesses, and Red Mountain Theatre moving to Parkside, I think of the dedicated group – private citizens, foundations and city officials – who worked for years to make this project happen," Spratling said. "For many of those years it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Railroad Park would become a reality. But they knew the investment in the park would pay off 1,000-fold for the city. They made something from nothing. And nine years on, Railroad Park is an attraction in so many ways. It’s a literal attraction; Railroad Park draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. It’s a place where our entire community comes together to get healthy, to celebrate, to re-charge and to be inspired. And that continues to attract new businesses, new residents and cultural institutions that enrich our great city."