ISSUE 8 SPRING 2018
INTRODUCING BLUEPRINT ON 3RD
PEPPER PLACE AS A LOW-TECH INCUBATOR
INTERVIEW WITH TOM WALKER
the COO of SLOSS REAL ESTATE
A LETTER FROM
Cathy Sloss Jones MAKING OUR PLACE IN BIRMINGHAM Recently, Christopher Coes, a widely recognized expert on walkable urbanism, visited Birmingham along with more than 30 developers and land use planners from across the Southeast, as part of an Urban Land Institute (ULI) Southern States Exchange. Christopher fell in love with Pepper Place and observed that Birmingham could become the most walkable city in the south! ULI started its two day visit at Pepper Place where I shared the history of our neighborhood’s redevelopment. Birmingham‘s urban core was so different when we renovated our first building in 1988! Investing here was a risk but we believed that Pepper Place was perfectly positioned to help rebuild Lakeview and contribute to revitalizing Birmingham’s city center. This has proven to be true. Today you can come to our farmers market on any given Saturday and see as many as 10,000 people wandering throughout the white tents supporting our local growers and artisans.
TA B L E O F CO NTENTS 1
INTRODUCING BLUEPRINT ON 3RD Pepper Place’s newest restaurant
PEPPER PLACE’S CULTURAL HUB: TERRIFIC NEW THEATRE An interview with Tam DeBolt
SPRING IS COMING: MAKE SURE YOU’RE READY Getting ready for the season with Charlie Thigpen
SEEDING SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS Pepper Place as a low-tech incubator
THE HOLEY GRAIL OF PASTRIES: WE HAVE DOUGHNUTS! AT THE CENTER OF THE BIRMINGHAM BOOM An interview with Catherine Singletary, COO of Brik Realty
During the week, you can walk into Red Cat Coffee, Cantina, Bettola, OvenBird or any of our growing family of eateries and find delicious food made by award-winning chefs.
SCHOOL REALTOR An interview with Shanon Wilks of Brik Realty
Everyday, everywhere you go, you’ll find lawyers,designers, shopkeepers, artists and tech entrepreneurs, all creative thinkers, that call Pepper Place home. As we hope you’ll see in this issue of The Place, we are at the center of a new Birmingham-between downtown and Avondale. Anchoring the mixed use developments of Lakeview and providing a gathering place for food and festivities, serving as a hub for business.
Pepper Place is open for business
Cathy Sloss Jones President Sloss Real Estate
TAKING STEPS TOWARD WALKABILITY Birmingham is on pace to be one of the
It’s exciting to be part of this renaissance. We hope you join us here soon!
INTERVIEW WITH TOM WALKER, COO OF SLOSS REAL ESTATE
South’s most walkable cities
A TRAIL THROUGH THE CITY How the Jones Valley Trail is connecting Birmingham
THE WINTER MARKET
BIRMINGHAM’S BRAIN TRUST A sneak peek at the next issue of The Place
MAP OF PEPPER PLACE
PEPPERPLACE.COM Cover Photography by Andi Rice
BLUEPRINT ON When you look at the redevelopment that’s taken place throughout Birmingham in recent years, you’ll see food at the center of the action. In Avondale, Parkside Café and Saw’s Soul Kitchen lead the charge for what is one of the city’s most vibrant scenes. Hot spots like Urban Standard and Trattoria Centrale paved the way downtown for new condos to come on the market. Farther east, Woodlawn’s Cycle Café and East 59 Vintage Café have been pioneers in establishing cultural hubs of burgeoning neighborhoods. Pepper Place is no different. Our well established restaurants— Bettola, Cantina, Red Cat Coffee House and, most recently, OvenBird—are the culinary pioneers in our corner of Birmingham and have been a huge part of our success. While these restaurants have been concentrated on the core of Pepper Place between 28th and 29th Streets, a new endeavor is moving things eastward, expanding our geography along with our palate. When you drive down 3rd Avenue on the way to the Market at Pepper Place on a Saturday morning, or head downtown for a show and a bite to eat, you may never have noticed the unassuming building tucked between Frontera and Hop City. What used to be the Birmingham Blueprint Company headquarters had been vacant for several years, until recently becoming part of Pepper Place. Since then it has served as the base of operations for Design Week Birmingham in 2015 and occasionally as an event space. The bare brick walls, exposed beams, and concrete floors lend themselves to a refined industrial aesthetic that’s distinct to Pepper Place. And now this one-of-a-kind building has a new permanent resident.
RD Scheduled to open in May, Blueprint on 3rd—or B3 as it’s come to be called—is the latest dining endeavor of Dean Robb. A storied industry veteran, Robb has worked with Pardis and Frank Stitt at Bottega Restaurant & Cafe, opened DoDiYos Greek Restaurant in Homewood, and has worked as the Vice President of company operations at Taziki’s, Inc. in Birmingham, Atlanta and Richmond. B3 will be something of a departure from his previous efforts, keeping Robb close to home and allowing him to tap into his love of 1920s art-deco style and his love of refined Southern food. According to the Birmingham Business Journal, Executive Chef James Hackaby's “spring menu this year will include starters such as Cowboy Oyster shooter ala Dikta’s Chicago, fried mirlitons with shrimp, sausage hollandaise, and steamed mussels Ponchartrain with wild mushrooms. Main dishes will include a San Francisco ‘Hangtown Fry, shrimp & chicken étouffée with grits ala Pepper Place, and carpetbag steak with oysters, asparagus & hollandaise.” Robb’s vision for what B3 will be is perfectly in line with what Pepper Place has always hoped to accomplish: To create something new in Birmingham while staying true to the city’s working class roots—remodeling existing buildings, reimagining classic dishes, and reinvigorating neighborhoods. Blueprint on 3rd will be open dinner only Monday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The bar will be open from 4 p.m. until “the crowd dissipates,” Robb said. The restaurant will be available for private parties or events on Sundays. PEPPERPLACE.COM
P E P P E R P L AC E ’ S C U LT U R A L H U B :
Terrific New Theatre
For 30 years, Carl Stewart’s voice was heard on the answering machine at Terrific New Theatre, and he made every phone call to confirm ticket reservations. When you purchased your tickets at TNT, the seat numbers on the handmade tickets—crafted by Stewart—were handwritten by him, too. For 30 years, every play at the Terrific New Theatre was directed by him and would, occasionally, feature his comic and/or dramatic stylings. When Carl Stewart started his Terrific New Theatre nearly 30 years ago, Pepper Place offered a warm and welcoming environment close to downtown and easily accessible for theatergoers. He may not have realized it at the time, but the modest 99-seat venue would become something of a cultural hub. As downtown has flourished with new restaurants, and as award-winning chefs moved into Pepper Place, TNT has been a constant source of high-quality entertainment. The theatre scene in Birmingham is almost as old as the city itself. Founded in 1871, it wasn’t long before the city became home to the Alabama Theatre in 1927 and The Lyric in 1914—both of which have been restored and are fully operational. Before retiring in July of 2016, Carl Stewart had been part of the city’s theatre scene for half of its existence. In July of 2016, actress and director Tam DeBolt took hold of the reigns of Terrific New Theatre. When we asked Tam if Carl’s were big shoes to fill, she responded, “Well, that’s the understatement of the year.” As DeBolt explains, running a nonprofit theatre is a group effort. No one person—not even Carl Stewart—can do it alone. Terrific New Theatre brings together what’s best about the new can-do spirit that seems to have taken over the business owners, developers, and community organizers that are part of Birmingham’s revitalization. 4
“Everyone who’s involved with this theatre—whether they’re performers, audience members, or working behind the scenes—brings something to the table to make sure it keeps going.” It’s what DeBolt calls the Three T’s: Time, Talents, and Treasures. “Not everyone has all three, but everybody has at least one.” Before becoming the new executive director of Terrific New Theatre, DeBolt acted in and worked behind the scenes for many plays going back 20 years. When we asked DeBolt if anything has changed about the TNT audience over that time she said, “Everybody’s 20 years older.” She’s joking, of course, though there is some truth to it. As with many non-profit community theaters across the country, a small and faithful crew of donors and volunteers keep things running. But, says DeBolt, “We’re seeing new people come to the theatre with every show. With our run of Nunsense, people who are in their 50s and 60s were seeing theatre for the first time in their lives. We had children coming to that show for the first time, too. There is definitely a core group of supporters, but audience is always changing.” That’s how the Pepper Place family works on the whole, too. Longtime tenants like Terrific New Theatre are the core of what makes this place so special. And it’s because of them the stage has been set for new businesses, audacious restaurateurs, and industrious entrepreneurs to find a supportive home. TO LEARN MORE ABOUT TNT AND TO FIND OUT ABOUT THEIR UPCOMING SHOWS, VISIT TERRIFICNEWTHEATRE.COM
pring SSpring g. in is coming. m o c Make sure you’re ready. GETTING READY FOR THE SEASON WITH CHARLIE THIGPEN You might have noticed there are a lot of buds on trees, eager blades of grass poking their heads up from dormant lawns, and flowers getting ready to burst into the world in full Technicolor. That’s because the official first day of spring is Tuesday, March 20th. If you’re wondering what you might need to get that garden going, Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery has a few tools (and one goodie) to help you get sprung.
GALVANIZED WATERING CAN Perhaps the most necessary tool in the gardener’s toolbox is the classic watering can. Simple design, rugged construction, trustworthy functioning, this is the kind of product that will long outlast just about every other tool in your shed. $60
ERGONOMIC TRANSPLANTER Soon you’ll see pots and trays of beautiful spring color available at your friendly Pepper Place garden shop. Geraniums, columbine, phlox, penta, verbena, begonia, ruella, we could go on. If you’re in love with color, you’ll be busy providing a home for those beauties. Make sure you’re doing it with style and ease with the Radius Ergonomic Transplanter. $16
PLANTING FLAGS If you’re an ambitious Advanced Gardener and prefer starting your lovelies from seed, it’s easy to forget where you put what. These sturdy, attractive planting flags will help you parse out your parsley and sort your salvia. $1 each
SUCCULENT PLANTER Now that you’re fully equipped to manage your lovely parcel of land, you’re going to need a swoon-worthy centerpiece in the middle of it all. These stunning hypertufa succulent planters are born and bred in Alabama and feature dramatic groupings of these hearty, drought-resistant gems. Prices vary.
The Pepper Place
When April McClung started selling her Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes in 2014, someone recommended that she try to get into the Market at Pepper Place. “People said there would be a three-year wait, but that didn’t concern me, and I thought we would simply wait our turn,” she says. “So I contacted Pepper Place and told them our story.” Put on a waiting list, McClung was surprised to be called after a cancellation two weeks later. The 18 pound cakes she brought to the Market sold out in less than four hours, and now, three years later, she produces more than 500 pound cakes a week, shipping them to grocery stores, restaurants and pound-cake lovers all over the country. “Pepper Place was instrumental to us in creating awareness and getting our product out there,” McClung says. “We have customers all over the country now, specifically restaurants that now order our cakes to be shipped for consumption in their restaurants.” EMILY’S HEIRLOOM POUND CAKES is not alone. Since its inception in 2000, the tables and tents at the Market at 6
Pepper Place have spawned more than 60 brick-and-mortar and internet successes. After MIDNIGHT SALSA, BARE NAKED NOODLES, BIG SPOON CREAMERY, MCEWEN & SONS GRITS, MOOK’S CHEESE STRAWS, STEEL CITY POPS and many more have all found a wider audience at the Market that helped them grow their business. “Setting up at Pepper Place for 10 years made all the difference in our success because of our exposure,” says Frank McEwen, owner of MCEWEN & SONS GRITS. “I call it our NPR moment, because we met so many interesting folks along the way and seemed to get new business every week.” “This was always our hope,” says Cathy Sloss Jones, whose original Pepper Place vision included helping to build local economies through urban/rural connections. “We love to see success like that come out of selling at Pepper Place.” Jimmy Brogden, owner of AFTER MIDNIGHT SALSA, says they’re on the right track. “Pepper Place Market is truly a small, local business incubator,” says Brogden, who began selling his salsa at the Market in 2012 and now has his products in seven grocery stores and a number of other retail locations. “Anyone with an idea, product, service or
craft can test it at the Market to see how or if their ideas will gain traction with the public.” Jones created the Market at Pepper Place in 2000. A member of the Federal Reserve Board, she’d often heard from fellow board member Larkin Martin, an Alabama farmer, about the demise of family farming. “Larkin would always say if we didn’t do something, in a few years there would be no small family farms left in Alabama,” Jones recalls. “They were disappearing quickly… She’d ring the bell on that in our board meetings, so I started looking for an opportunity to start a market that would allow farmers to sell directly to consumers and increase their margins.” Jones ‘ family business, Sloss Real Estate, owned property in and around Pepper Place, the former Dr. Pepper building in Birmingham’s Lakeview district, and she decided that’s where she would establish Birmingham’s first tent market for farmers. Jones enlisted the help of top Birmingham chefs, among them Franklin Biggs and James Bard Award-winner Frank Stitt, to help get the market started. In the summer of 2000, that first market at Pepper Place drew thousands to the Lakeview District, and it’s only grown from there. In its 17 years, the Market has expanded from seven farmers that first Saturday to over 100 today; a limited season from Memorial Day to Labor Day now has blossomed, thanks to the farmers, in to an all-year market season.
wife, Pardis, for their Birmingham restaurants — Highlands Bar and Grill, Bottega Café, and Chez Fonfon. “I’ll see those farmers on Saturday, and we might buy some stuff for our house,” he says. More than that, though, he, like other chefs, is looking for produce and other items for his restaurants. Vendors like McEwen & Sons Grits and Emily’s Heirloom Pound Cakes have grown their businesses tremendously by getting their products into these restaurants. “I’ll make arrangements and place larger orders for them to deliver to the restaurants later in the week,” Stitt says. “Look at Matthew Lawrence at Marble Creek Farmstead. He just built a processing plant for his chickens. It’s because of Pepper Place that someone like him is able to do the things he’s doing.” It’s relationships like that — plus crowds that can reach 10,000 each week — that have helped brick-and-mortar operations come out of these tents. “Look at Helen and Frank McEwen,” Jones says. “Through the Market, they took their little boys and set them up in the chicken business. They would supply organic eggs to chefs like Frank Stitt and also bring them to the Market. When you’re dealing with farmers, you’re dealing with their entire family. It’s not uncommon to see parents and children working together. “There are a million stories like that,” she says. Jones says the Market is growing and evolving, too, with dreams to build a permanent home for the Market with a park and pavilion that will house a winter market and serve as a focal point for the city.
“Now we’re year-round,” Jones says. “We’ve reached one of our major goals.” That means more exposure for more vendors, as well as an expanded product line. “A lot of farmers began growing a wider variety of crops and making valueadded products, like pies or jams and jellies, and some of those evolved into little businesses, too,” Jones says.
Sloss wants the Market to continue to be Birmingham’s “lowtech incubator” (as opposed to the high-tech incubator at Innovation Depot). And if Jones has her way, the Market will soon be able to help these farmers and vendors with more than exposure.
Add that to the produce they’re already selling, and the Market, which is a 501(c)3 non-profit and supported by a number of sponsors, is achieving its initial objective to help struggling farmers. “Farmers can make an extra $30,000 to $35,000 a year coming to our market, and that’s enough to make all the difference in what they do,” Jones says. Stitt uses Saturday mornings at Pepper Place to shop with his
“We’ve been helping these businesses get started and grow, and now we’re working to develop a nonprofit bank for our farmers and vendors with TruFund,” Jones says. “As a nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution, they can loan money when a standard bank might not be able to. We listen to what the farmers need and ask ourselves, ‘How can we meet those needs and help them grow?’”
pepper place has
we have doughnuts. Sometime in 2013, a new kind of doughnut landed on the Birmingham food scene. Unlike the smooth-sided, high-gloss varieties found at school fundraisers or the dry cake rings found at nationwide franchises, these had a crispy outer ring of flaky petals and a soft, dense inner ring packed with flavor. These were old-fashioned doughnuts. And they went as quickly as they could make them. For a time, Founder Phil Amthor would hand-deliver his handmade doughnuts. The business got a name—We Have Doughnuts—and grew by word of mouth until they opened a stand downtown on 20th Street. Now, after five years of turning Birmingham on to the timeless magic of doing things the old-fashioned way, We Have Doughnuts is at Pepper Place. Sitting in the We Have Doughnuts pop-up shop in the Pepper Place Pop-Up space, We Have Doughnuts’ Managing Partner Elizabeth Scott Wright explains, “Pepper Place is up-and-coming. It’s hip, and it’s an easy location for most anybody in the city. With the Market and all that’s happening down the road in Avondale, with good parking and it being bike friendly and walkable, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be part of the revitalization.” Wright comes from a celebrated family of Birmingham bakers. Her father, Van Scott Jr., owned and operated the Birmingham staple Savage’s Bakery for over 30 years. Elizabeth carried on that family restaurateur’s spirit with her own career running eateries in Washington, D.C., before returning to Birmingham. “I’ll be putting all that family and professional experience to work in our new shop.” As they grow, We Have Doughnuts will expand their offerings to include kombucha, coffee, juices, and a savory doughnut to spice things up a bit. “We’ll also provide space for parties, events and private gatherings,” Wright adds. “We look forward to being part of the Pepper Place community.” With flavors ranging from the classic Brown-Butter to culinary oddities like the Duckin’ Doughnut featuring local cornmeal and herbs are mixed into the batter and topped with a sweet glaze of duck fat and roasted garlic, there’s a doughnut for every taste. To go with their new surroundings, Wright says to keep an eye out for the Dr. Pepper Doughnut, coming soon.
The Pepper Place Pop-Up There’s no shortage of audacious entrepreneurs in Birmingham. In a city that sprung up out of Red Mountain’s iron-rich soil overnight, there’s an impressive level of industriousness that lingers. Good ideas are aplenty, and people are ready to sell their products and services, but in the world of business there’s a little speed bump that every business owner has to contend with: Overhead. That’s why we introduced the Pepper Place Pop-Up—a temporary space for entrepreneurs to test out and refine their ideas without the great financial risk that can come with opening a brick-and-mortar shop. Over the last year, the Pop-Up has hosted notable Birmingham businesses as: • ALABAMA OUTDOORS • TOM BECKBE • LE POP-UP • ALASAW • BISCUIT LEATHER COMPANY • A BASIC SHOP • J. CATMA • WE HAVE DOUGHNUTS • HONEYCREEPER CHOCOLATE
TO ORDER YOURS, VISIT WEHAVEDOUGHNUTS.COM PEPPERPLACE.COM
At the Center of the Birmingham Boom AN INTERVIEW WITH CATHERINE SINGLETARY, COO OF BRIK REALT Y When you walk into Brik Realty’s Pepper Place office, it doesn’t feel like an office at all. The ceilings are high, the metal beams are exposed, and, appropriately, the brick is front and center. Low walls divide long rows of open workspaces made of raw, welded metal and reclaimed wood. Real estate agents come an go, popping in to use their desk space briefly before heading out again to meet with a client. It’s busy and, in a lot of ways, the frenetic energy mimics what’s been going on in the Birmingham real estate market over the past 5 years or so. Catherine Singletary, Brik’s COO and a resident of nearby Crestwood South, explains that, “Pepper Place is the dead-center point in these areas having huge booms. Think about Crestwood— the price point on homes has gone up exponentially in the last five years because of commercial and residential development there and in Avondale. With restaurants like Melt, Saturn, Post Office Pies, Saw’s Soul Kitchen, all that is driving people to want to live there. Avondale Park and Crestwood Park are beautiful, they have great playgrounds for kids, and you see youth sports like football and baseball going on there every season. Crestwood leads into Avondale. Avondale leads into Forest Park. Forest Park leads into Lakeview and, of course, that leads into Pepper Place.” The rejuvenation of city centers isn’t particular to Birmingham. The trend to reinvest in existing properties has been taking place across
the U.S., encouraged by historical tax credits and a concerted efforts by business leaders. “If you look at cities like that are on a similar level, like Denver,” says Singletary, “you see the same things driving growth here. Restaurants, bars, reamplification of downtown areas, all feeding into the growth of these areas.” Singletary gives part of the credit for this growth to the Market at Pepper Place. “You have people coming to the Market from all over the metro area—even as far as Chelsea—on Saturday mornings. If you’re looking at things like that on a national scale, Birmingham is really competing with larger cities. The Farmers Market is perfectly positioned for all this growth. It’s big enough, open enough, and walkable enough to where you can get to it easily, but not so spread out that you can’t get what you need.” “It’s been incredible to see all these interesting, culture-driven things happen in our city. As a small, locally owned and operated business, it’s been awesome to be on this side of the growth and see what’s driving it. Being in Pepper Place, at the center of all of it, lets us keep our finger on the pulse of everything that’s happening in Birmingham.”
Selling Homes and Strengthening Schools BRIK RE ALT Y’S SHANNON WILKS PAYS IT FORWARD IN THE CL ASSROOM
Before she was a real estate agent, BRIK Realty’s Shannon Wilks was a substitute teacher. During that time, she realized that some public school teachers actually wind up paying for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Not just in Birmingham, not just in Alabama, but many school districts across the nation are faced with budget shortfalls. Often, teachers step up to the plate to ensure students have everything they need to be well educated —from crayons to snacks to hand sanitizer. Ever the optimist, Shannon Wilks saw a chance to get involved in helping teachers and their students. For the past year, she has offered the sellers she represents the rare opportunity to donate money to a classroom of their choice to be used in buying essential classroom supplies. Asks Wilks, “What better way to give back than to give to a classroom?”
to White Plains Elementary two hours away, but we’ve also donated to teachers in Homewood. This initiative has taken me all over.” Sellers can give to the teacher of their choice, and if they don’t know a teacher to whom they’d like to donate, there are plenty of teachers Wilks would be happy to help out. “A seller in Hoover didn’t have a teacher in mind, but I’d recently heard about a classroom in Tarrant that could use some help. Regardless of where they’re located, it’s really fulfilling to give a gift to someone in need. In this case, it’s a whole classroom of children.”
But why take on such an endeavor?
The classroom donation initiative is something Wilks has taken up all on her own as a way to strengthen the communities where her clients make their homes. “It’s something the sellers are surprised by, and it’s something they really love. Giving them an opportunity to give back gives them ownership over more than just their home. They are part of the larger community.”
As a real estate agent, Wilks is invested in the communities she serves, and she serves a very broad area. “We’ve made a donation
Reach out to Shannon by visiting her profile at BRIK Realty at brikrealty.com/agents/76002-Shannon-Wilks/.
Interview with Tom Walker, COO of Sloss Real Estate PE PPE R PL ACE I S O PE N FO R B U S I N E S S In his capacity as Bayer Properties’ Development manager, Tom Walker helped bring the stunning and successful Pizitz Building into being. With a bar, two full-service restaurants, and a rotating cast of restaurants, the Pizitz Food Hall has become a hot spot of food, culture, and downtown living. Now, as the COO of Sloss Real Estate, Tom brings an interesting perspective on Birmingham’s revitalization, the role Pepper Place has played since 1988, and what he hopes it can be in the future. THE PLACE: The Pizitz was a major project in Birmingham’s revitalization. Now that you’re with Sloss Real Estate and working on Pepper Place, what is your perspective on Birmingham’s new boom? TOM WALKER: When you look at a lot of the markets similar in size to Birmingham around the south, pretty much all of them have gone through some sort of urban renaissance or downtown revitalization, and I think that Pizitz and what’s happening at Pepper Place represent that same thing happening here in Birmingham. The Pizitz and Pepper Place are both catalytic for the areas they’re in, but they came about in very different ways. The Pizitz was a result of prime market conditions, good incentives from the government with historic tax credits, and a strong financial environment that put the building into production quickly. The iteration of the project that was placed into service was planned and executed in a relatively short period of time. Cathy (Sloss, President of Sloss Real Estate) has dedicated years of her life to revitalizing Pepper Place. She has been accumulating buildings around Pepper Place since 1988, and now you have what’s here today, including what’s under development now with the Blueprint Building. They came about in different ways, but they’re both critical to Birmingham's progress as an emerging city.
THE PLACE: How do you hope Pepper Place can differentiate itself from other pockets of Birmingham. TOM WALKER: Pepper Place is aptly named. It is a place where people enjoy spending time, day or night. During the week or on the weekends at the Farmers Market. I don't see many places like that in Birmingham. I'd like for Sloss Real Estate to do a better job of making sure people know that. We want people to come here to dine and shop, to work here, and spend their time here. THE PLACE: What steps have you taken in that direction so far? TOM WALKER: We’ve rebranded and built a new website and communications through the help of FRED. We’re working to establish wayfinding signage to help people better identify Pepper Place. We’re working with a couple really cool tenants right now to work on the marketing and management of our properties. We’re very excited about the Blueprint Building—and the restaurant Blueprint on 3rd—who should be open late spring early summer. There will be an office tenant there as well. For Sloss Real Estate, that kind of project, 11,000 square feet of redevelopment, allows us to expand Pepper Place and bring exciting new tenants into the community. THE PL ACE: Is there a different way of thinking about managing properties? TOM WALKER: Pepper Place is tremendous. It’s some of the coolest real estate in town, and we want to continue with Cathy’s vision. We want to market it better, better communicate what Pepper Place is all about so that everybody understands the great things that are happening here, and how often they are happening.
Taking Steps Toward Walkability B I RM I N G H A M I S O N PACE TO B E O N E O F TH E SO UTH ’ S MOS T WA LK A B LE CITI E S If you ask a Birminghamian about transit in the Magic City, the first thing that comes to mind is Dysfunction Junction—the spaghetti knot of highways, expressways, and boulevards that converges on downtown and that’s in a perpetual state of repair and restructuring. Although Dysfunction Junction tends to dominate the transportation conversation, things begin to clear up once you get on the ground.
Along with this growing catalogue of desirable qualities, Birmingham has also made strides in walkable infrastructure and local transit that could have a huge impact on the city’s future. According to Coes, “One of the first steps that Birmingham can do right now is maintain the course it is on around creating the Bus Rapid Transit corridor. It is not just about the bus system. It is about how you knit together the neighborhoods and community to make them all more walkable.”
According to Christopher Coes, Vice President of LOCUS, a national coalition of real estate developers and investors who advocate for sustainable, equitable, walkable development in America’s metropolitan areas, Birmingham may well be on track to become one of the most walkable cities in the South.
In terms of walkability, the ever-expanding Jones Valley Trail currently terminates at Pepper Place and connects the Lakeview District to downtown via the Rotary Trail with plans in the works to connect other parts of the city as well. For bicycle and vehicular transportation, the City Council’s new Complete Streets ordinance mandates that new road projects incorporate active sidewalks, dedicated bike lanes, active roadways, safe crosswalks, planting strips for green road barriers, and green space—modern, smart, sustainable infrastructure that raises Birmingham’s appeal and moves one step closer to a totally walkable city.
As part of the Urban Land Institute’s Southern States Exchange— an exploration of Birmingham’s robust transformation—Coes addressed both the progress of and the next steps for a city that’s really trying to get its footing. Addressing the ULI Exchange attendees, Coes pointed out that, “What is happening here in Birmingham is so authentic. Birmingham is viewed as the most affordable city in the Southeast according to Forbes magazine. People are moving here because Atlanta, Charlotte, DC are too expensive. Companies want to be here because there are great universities, great talent and a rich history.”
This is a mission Pepper Place has been involved with since its inception in 1988, and it’s one we’re happy to continue into Birmingham’s future. For more information about the Urban Land Institute in Alabama, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/ULIAlabama/.
A Trail Through the City H OW T H E J O N E S VA L L E Y T R A I L I S CO N N E C T I N G B I R M I N G H A M If you sit on the patio at the Red Cat Coffee House on the corner of 2nd Avenue South and 29th Street and look north, you’ll occasionally catch a glimpse of a jogger winding down the end of a long run, a cyclist speeding by in full regalia, or a pair of lunch-break walkers on reprieve from the office. With the Red Mountain Expressway and the bustle of 3rd Avenue traffic so close by, it may seem like an odd place to exercise, but Pepper Place is actually the eastern terminus of the extensive Jones Valley Trail. Without the strides made by Sloss Real Estate in bringing tenants and businesses, restaurants and venues, to Pepper Place, the trail would run into a quiet industrial zone. But Pepper Place is a destination. A project years in the making—and with years yet to complete—the Jones Valley corridor provides connectivity to over 30 schools in the metro area, incorporating greenways and street-based trails that will serve Birmingham's most urban residential areas and provide fantastic opportunities for recreation and multimodal commuting. Major destinations within this corridor include Miles College, the Birmingham Metroplex, Rickwood Field, 14
Birmingham-Southern College, The Civil Rights District, the Entertainment District, UAB, Region’s Field, Railroad Park, and Pepper Place. Not only is there a lot of history to be experienced on the Jones Valley Trail, but it’s also the bellwether of a prosperous future for the Magic City. For now, many of the trail’s users take advantage of the recreational opportunity. But as the trail system grows and branches out to include such corridors as 1st Avenue North and the Vulcan Greenway up and over Red Mountain on 20th Street, the hope is for the Jones Valley Trail system to become a new opportunity to connect parts of the city through bicycle commuting. With plans in the works to continue the trail into Avondale, Woodlawn, and on to Ruffner Mountain, Pepper Place will eventually serve as the center point of a new Birmingham connected through sustainable commuting as well as a connection to the outdoors and to one another. Illustration courtesy of Fresh Water Land Trust. FRESHWATE RL ANDTRUST.ORG/FIND -A-TR AIL/
winter market WE STARTED THE PEPPER PLACE FARMERS MARKET FOR TWO REASONS:
To bring access to fresh, local food to Birmingham’s residents. 2. To provide a place for farmers to sell their goods directly to consumers. It was a simple enough mission, and we never expected things to take off like they have. As our vendors multiplied, our offerings expanded, and the number of visitors swelled, we realized there was significant enough demand to carry the Market through the traditional growing season of warm months and open things up for the Winter Market. When it gets cold, the farm doesn’t shut down. Farmers are still producing eggs, meat, and poultry. They’re canning and preserving their harvests. They’re baking bread and preparing cheeses that get them through the winter. That’s why we started the Winter Market inside the Martin Biscuit Building event space on 29th Street. From 7am to noon, we’ve hosted some of our favorite farmers and vendors with all the essentials—fresh seasonal veggies and herbs, cheeses and honey, eggs, meats and poultry, breads, pastries, hot coffee, fresh salsa, savory sauces, and even dog treats. Now that the sun is back and things are warming up, however, we’ll be breaking out the white tents and spilling into the streets of Pepper Place once again. Thanks to all our supporters for making the Winter Market so successful! If you’re interested in supporting the farmers and vendors who make the Market so special, you can support the Pepper Place Farmers by becoming a Friend of the Market. As a Friend of the Market, you're going the extra mile to support Alabama farmers and small businesses by ensuring that everyone in the community has access to fresh, healthy food. And you're doing your part to keep Saturday mornings alive with friends, food, and music in downtown Birmingham. Friends of the Market is a non-profit 501(c)(3), so your donation is tax deductible.
SEE YOU AT THE PLACE! BECOME A FRIEND OF THE MARKET BY VISITING PEPPERPLACEMARKET.COM/DONATE.
paella on the patio
OvenBird will host David Tofterup, COO and renowned head winemaker of Hammeken Cellars, for a wine tasting and Spanish-style family dinner en plein air. All-inclusive tickets are $60. Make your reservation with OvenBird at (205) 957-6686.
Cinco De Mayo at Cantina! + 15 years of cantina
The patio at Cantina has always been a great place to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. Mexican fare, music and margaritas-what more could you want!
UAB Scholarship Run
UAB will host their annual scholarship run at Pepper Place on Friday, May 11th. Runners can choose from a 5k or 10k and you don’t have to be a UAB Alumni to enjoy the fun! The race will begin and end at Pepper Place and there will be plenty of post-racing fun!
Terrific New Theater MARCH 8-24
The Pepper Place Design Series returns with 2 great Spring lectures!
An outrageous comedy about the price of fame, the cost of things, and the oddest of odd jobs.
“Buyer & Cellar” APRIL 19-MAY 5
“Pump Boys and Dinettes”
Country western music brings them all together in this fun night of musical comedy
Lunch and Learn at the home of Richard Tubb
Lunch and Learn with Richard Tubb. You will not want to miss this opportunity! Richard is inviting people to enjoy his home and learn tips for outdoor living. Come get inspired, just in time for summer! Space is very limited. Check pepperplace.com for details and tickets by April 2nd.
Birmingham’s Brain Trust Pepper Place is known throughout Birmingham for several things: its Farmers Market, its James Beard Award-winning chefs and one-of-a-kind eateries, its walkability and dedication to sustainability, its incredible concentration of design talent. But there’s a lot more that goes on at Pepper Place that the typical lunchtime or weekend visitor might not be privy to. In the next issue of The Place, we’ll be highlighting some of the incredible work that goes on in the rest of Pepper Place—the young professionals, the tech heads, the talented designers, and the entrepreneurs who are quietly, diligently changing Birmingham’s business landscape.
Pepper Place is home to some of Birmingham’s brightest minds, and it’s time to let them shine.
F R E E PA R K I N G
RETAIL & SHOWROOMS 3. AERO JOE PILATES www.aerojoepilates.com
6. ATMOSPHERE HOME ESSENTIALS www.atmospherehomeessentials.com
MEDIA & COMMUNICATIONS 6. ABOUT TOWN www.abouttownsite.com 4. AIRSHIP, LLC www.teamairship.com
6. CANTLEY & COMPANY www.cantleyandcompany.com
3. BLACK BENAK, LLC www.blackbenak.com
3. CHARLIE THIGPEN’S GARDEN GALLERY www.charliethigpensgardengallery.com
6. FRED www.thinkfred.com
4. THE COLLECTIVE www.thecollectivebham.com
5. COUNTRY LIVING www.countryliving.com
5. DEKALB OFFICE www.dekalboffice.com
4. HODGES AND ASSOCIATES www.thehighroad.com
6. DESIGN SUPPLY www.artgallery1930.com/designsupply
6. MURPHY MEDIA, INC www.murphymedia.com
1. EISYS, INC www.elsys-inc.com
4. PEPPERMINT PHOTOGRAPHY www.apeppermintphoto.com
2. FERGUSON www.ferguson.com 9. FRONTERA www.fronterairon.com 3. KING’S HOUSE ORIENTAL RUGS www.kingshouseorientalrugs.com 4. RICHARD TUBB INTERIORS www.richardtubbinteriors.com
4. PERITUS PR, LLC www.perituspr.com
OFFICES 5. AQ2 TECHNOLOGIES www.aq2tech.com
3. LIVE DESIGN GROUP www.livedesigngroup.com
5. BATTLE & WINN LLP www.battlewinn.com
6. MOMENTUM www.momentumleaders.org
5. BRIK REALTY www.brikrealty.com
4. RYAN FREEMAN INC www.rfibuilders.com
6. CHAPEL STEEL www.chapelsteel.com
6. SCHILLECI & TORTORICI, PC www.themillenniallawyer.com
5. CHIP REWARDS INC www.chiprewards.com 5. EPIC www.epicbrokers.com
4. SOUTHERN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW CENTER www.southernenvironment.org
4. HASKINS JONES, LLC www.haskinsjones.com
4. THE WATSON FIRM www.birminghambusinesslaw.com
6. KRUMDIECK A+I DESIGN www.krumdieck.com
4. YEATTS LAW FIRM www.yeattsfirm.com
FOOD & ENTERTAINMENT MARKET AT PEPPER PLACE www.pepperplacemarket.com 5. BETTOLA www.bettolarestaurant.com 8. BLUEPRINT ON 3RD (Opening 2018) 5. CANTINA www.cantinatortillagrill.com 7. HOP CITY www.hopcitybeer.com
6. THE LUMBAR (Opening 2018) 6. OVENBIRD www.ovenbirdrestaurant.com 5. THE RED CAT www.theredcatcoffeehouse.com 6. TERRIFIC NEW THEATRE, INC www.terrificnewtheatre.com 6. WE HAVE DOUGHNUTS POP-UP SHOP