Whether you’re a resident of Birmingham, or have visited the city on multiple occasions, it’s likely that you’ve noticed the massive abandoned hospital in Druid Hills. Vacant since 2008, Carraway Hospital is vandalized beyond repair and is scheduled for demolition in April 2020.
Corporate Realty spokeswoman says the company has spent two years planning for redevelopment and hosted 30 meetings with residents of Druid Hills and other neighborhoods surrounding the Carraway site. Included in these meetings were two open houses held in the fall of 2018, which provided opportunities for local residents and business owners to provide feedback regarding the project. Nearly 300 people attended the event and expressed interest in affordable farmer’s markets, grocery stores and restaurants being included in the development.
A Druid Hills resident, Jared Sluss, is responsible for creating a Community Benefits Agreement. This agreement will require Corporate Realty to state what they are doing to benefit the neighborhood. It includes a detailed description of how they plan to ensure community members are not displaced from the neighborhood after the development’s completion.
According to Sluss, Birmingham City Councilor Darrell O’Quinn believes the agreement should have been created a long time ago, however no one took the initiative.
Sluss is currently in the process of gathering a committee of neighbors to begin the process of putting the Community Benefits Agreement into writing. This will create transparency and a standard of expectations for Corporate Realty.
Since April 2019, Sluss attended community meetings about the development plan for Carroway. He says Corporate Realty was not completely clear with Druid Hills residents regarding multiple aspects of the proposed development plan. One specific example is providing residents with false information about the height of buildings that would likely decrease their property values. The conditions established by the city will limit any new buildings to the height of existing structures, which will not exceed 70 feet, on the block closest to the residential areas, according to Corporate Realty.
Due to the complex nature of the development, Corporate Realty spokeswoman says that Druid Hills residents were given three opportunities to vote on the development. In each case, the neighborhood voted in favor of the development plan.There are still several unanswered questions regarding the details of the development, but it is apparent this development site will be a significant investment into Birmingham’s community. According to Big Partnership, an estimated $50 to $75 million will be put into the redevelopment of Carraway, taking the new name Northside Park. The renovation plan includes both single and multi-family residences, retail space, restaurants, offices and a hotel.
Sluss says only two elements of Carraway’s current structure will be preserved: the parking deck and the star on top of the hospital.