Cahaba Heights poised for building boom, architect says

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Cahaba Heights is primed for a building boom, with some big players in commercial real estate quietly scouting potential targets, according to an architect doing lots of business in the neighborhood.

Chris Reebals, whose Christopher Architects firm is working on numerous residential and commercial developments in Cahaba Heights, said a lot of work related to recovery from last year’s tornado is still under way. On April 27, 2011, an EF-2 tornado cut an eight-mile path there, injuring 20 people and taking one life.

Today, rebuilding and renovation work related to the tornado masks a greater resurgence. There are many projects with more recent roots, with still more in the planning stages, Reebals said.

“There have been some plays on larger tracts that have current buildings on them, that some bigger developers have tried to take over,” he said. “There’s a real interest in Cahaba Heights.”

Driving the interest in commercial property is a combination of location and price. Retail space in nearby developments costs more than $40 a square foot to lease, he said, but new retail space in Cahaba Heights is going for $20 to $30.

Residential growth is rebounding because commute times are such that cheaper housing deeper in the suburbs isn’t the deal it once was, he said.

“The 280 traffic issues have pushed people back in,” he said.

As a result, Reebals says a neighborhood once known as “Slab Town” because of an abundance of 1930s- and 1940s-era ranch-style housing has a more upscale future.

Among the projects Reebals has in the works: A retail development next to the popular Murphree’s Fruits Vegetables on Dolly Ridge Road and new housing in the upscale Cove at Overton development.

This item appeared in The Insider, a weekly column in The Birmingham News.

Article source: