A mix of local and national retailers, restaurants and other businesses are making downtown Birmingham their address.
A recruiter hired by the city’s Principal Shopping District has attracted some of the newcomers. The Principal Shopping District functions somewhat like a downtown development authority but does not capture taxes as traditional DDAs do or buy or purchase land. The PSD uses funds from a special assessment on commercial properties to operate. That includes marketing downtown Birmingham and hiring a recruiter to find national retailers.
One is Paper Source, a Chicago-based stationery and paper supply store that has 44 locations, with seven opening nationally this year. Paper Source is filling the space occupied by Sherman’s Shoes at 115 West Maple.
About 15 businesses, from restaurants and candy stores to salons and clothing stores, have opened recently or are expected to open soon.
Look for Detroit Guitar, which is under construction at 243 W. Maple and will bring music lessons and music gear in funky surroundings to downtown in September.
What Crepe?, a Euro dining eatery, is moving into 167 Old North Woodward. Sanders, the ice cream and candy store, is relocating just down the street to 172 North Old Woodward. Shish Kabob and Subway are adding to eating options, as are three bistros: Townhouse, Bella Piatti and Churchills.
Revive, a men’s clothing store, is coming to 163 W. Maple, where Adventures in Toys once was. Salons, H202 and Nude, opened in May on Hamilton Row.
“We definitely have had an uptick in businesses coming in,” says John Heiney, director of Birmingham’s Principal Shopping District.
Last year there was a net increase of 15 businesses, including spas, a florist, a jeweler, home decorating stores and food establishments.
“We seem to be on a similar pace this year,” he adds.
The recruiting effort is focusing on national retailers looking for boutique-size operations of 2,500 square feet or less, he says. Apparel stores are the main focus. City Manager Bob Bruner has been on the job since February and comes from Ferndale, which is known for a vibrant downtown.
“We hope the national retailers will join our excellent local retailers,” Heiney says.
Source: John Heiney, director, Birmingham Principal Shopping District; Birmingham City Manager Bob Bruner
Writer: Kim North Shine