MOUNTAIN BROOK, ALA. — Birmingham, Ala.-based Evson, a family-owned development firm, submitted plans Monday to the city of Mountain Brook for the $200 million Lane Parke of Mountain Brook Village mixed-use project. The development is located 3 miles from downtown Birmingham and sits adjacent to the Birmingham Zoo and the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. When complete, Lane Parke will encompass 210,000 square feet of retail space, 45,000 square feet of office space, residential units and a 75-room hotel. The entire development will be built to LEED certification, and green spaces, walking trails and water features will be prominent throughout the property. A two-phase construction schedule will commence when plans for the project are approved by the city.
The 27-acre property will replace the 63,000-square-foot Mountain Brook Shopping Center and the 276-unit Park Lane Apartments currently housed on the Mountain Brook site. During the first phase of the project, tenants in the shopping center — including the anchor, Western Supermarkets — will be relocated to the new development. In addition to commitments from these tenants, officials would like to lease three junior anchor spaces of 10,000 square feet to 20,000 square feet before breaking ground. “We’re very optimistic that the demand is there,” says Robert Jolly of Retail Specialists, a Birmingham-based firm that will be leasing the project. “There’s just never been an opportunity for this type of development in this city.” Jolly adds that Mountain Brook perennially makes Top 10 lists of affluent communities throughout the country, but the city lacks a key feature that’s usually found in those areas. “When you compare Mountain Brook to the other 10 communities, the other 10 have a luxury retail destination and Mountain Brook does not,” he says.
Even with the recession hurting retail sales, officials at Evson say this is the right time to move forward with the project. “Birmingham has proven that first-to-market retailers can succeed,” says Phil Martin, who is working closely with Evson on the project. Retailers like Saks Fifth Avenue and PF Chang’s initially were wary of entering the Birmingham market. “They have said Birmingham doesn’t have the draw that they need, but they’re all doing well.”
Evson’s strong standing in the community also means lenders hard hit by the recession may look favorably upon the project. After all, Evson has owned the Lane Parke site for more than half a century. “The family looks at this as not just another center,” Martin says. “This is where they’ve been for 50 years. This location is very special. This is the legacy.”
— Jon Ross