If you build it, they will come. That’s one reason the Birmingham City Council approved the $3.7 million for infrastructure improvement at the CrossPlex in Five Points West. The project includes new roads and sidewalks around the 38-acre property. Once that’s complete, Bob Nesbitt can get to work.
He’s the developer of what’ll be called CrossPlex Village. Think Olympic Village but on a smaller scale. The core is the sports complex, which includes a pool, an indoor running track, and an arena. The village will eventually have retail and restaurant space and a hotel. Nesbitt already has some tenants, but the project has been on hold for so long they started getting antsy.
“It was kind of touch and go with respect to a couple of tenants as to whether or not they would stay in place in light of those delays,” Nesbitt says.
He managed to convince them that it was just typical Birmingham politics and that the project is still in the works. But one tenant is causing a lot of controversy. “There were questions about the quality of the hotel primarily,” he says.
Members of a group called the Jefferson County Millennial Democrats are unhappy with the decision to bring a Comfort Inn and Suites to CrossPlex Village. The group says it’s concerned this hotel won’t attract people in the same way others do, like the Redmont in downtown Birmingham with its rooftop bar and restaurant. They say the West Side doesn’t get the same treatment as other areas of Birmingham when it comes to development.
However, residents of Five Points West disagree. Susan Palmer is president of the Central Park Neighborhood Association. She says the communities around CrossPlex Village have been in talks with developer Bob Nesbitt about amenities they’d like to see in a hotel, and their voices were heard.
“They will have an 80-seat conference room, which was requested by the neighborhood. They’re going to have continental breakfast, which was requested by the neighborhood. They’re going to have a fitness center that was requested by the neighborhood as well,” she says.
So, there may not be a rooftop bar, but they’re getting what they asked for, Palmer says.
The city is set to launch the infrastructure project in January, but there may be more disagreement over who will occupy the space when the time comes.