News Archive

What Will It Take To Improve Transportation?

02.24.2014

Birmingham Businesss Journal


When it comes to the revitalization of Birmingham, Cathy Sloss Jones is viewed as a visionary, according to the Birmingham Business Journal. Because of this, the BBJ often turns to the Sloss CEO for her expert opinion on what she believes to be the challenges and needs of our city.  In recent articles, the challenge of transportation is brought into the spot light by Jones, who indicates this as an area of much needed improvement. 



In the video below, Jones elaborates on this topic

Cathy Sloss Jones' Plan for Building a Better Birmingham

02.21.2014

Birmingham Business Journal


Cathy Sloss Jones is CEO of Sloss Real Estate and has pushed through many key projects in Birmingham, including One Federal Place, the Hope VI Park Place redevelopment downtown and the adjacent Jones Valley Teaching Farms, Phillips Academy and the YMCA Youth Development Center. But her real passion has been Pepper Place and the Pepper Place Farmers Market.

As the great-great granddaughter of Col. James Withers Sloss, who built Sloss Furnaces and is one of the first businessmen to help found the city of Birmingham more than a century ago, Cathy Sloss Jones has a vested interest in the growth of the Magic City today.

We talk to the head of Sloss Real Estate about Col. Sloss’ role in building Birmingham, how he might feel about the city today and her vision for the city’s future.



What is the biggest challenge for Birmingham today?
For me it’s about connections and transportation. We’re making progress with education and economic development, but we still don’t have a clear vision for how to best connect the city center and our neighborhoods. Birmingham can be a sustainable and walkable city, but we have to identify this as one of our goals. In Charlotte, they looked 20 years out at how to best connect their city, including light rail, bike lanes, ride share, walking paths and sidewalks as well as cars and buses, all the way down to wayfinding. If we can convince the 80,000 people who work and live in the city center to move around on our beautiful streets, we will have a much more vibrant city.

How about the metro area?
Again, we need more connectivity. We tend to silo and fragment, which has led to 30-plus municipalities, this being expensive and difficult to navigate. We need to cooperate where we can, looking for models that can consolidate resources across the region. I think a great example is Portland, Ore.’s metro form of government which does a great job of consolidating services, including transportation, for 25 independent municipalities.

How do you think your great-great grandfather Col. Sloss, who built Sloss Furnaces and was instrumental in bringing the railroad to Birmingham, would feel about the metro today?
I think he’d be proud of how far we’ve come. He was a visionary who saw the potential for Birmingham to be a great industrial city. I think he would marvel at the fact that we are now the largest city in Alabama with a world class university and medical center. Interestingly, he was also focused on transportation. I work with my father and my son and we often talk about this very thing.

What’s your opinion about where Birmingham is today?
I think Birmingham’s time is now. We are slow and steady and can benefit from not having grown as fast as other cities, having the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. We didn’t sprawl as badly and we didn’t tear everything down. Our city center is experiencing a rebirth and market demand favors walkable urbanism. This is good news for all of Birmingham especially if we can rebuild our schools and create mixed income neighborhoods. If I could wave a wand, I’d put our street car system back in place.

What’s next for Sloss Real Estate?
We’ve recently redeveloped Ridge Park for Baptist Health System and the historic Young and Vann Building for AL.com. But now we are interested in connecting Railroad Park to Pepper Place and Sloss Furnaces. Every great city has a feature that sparks interest and defines livability. Railroad Park from Regions Field to Sloss Furnaces is a new spine for the city. We’ve spent a lot of time over the past few years developing a master plan for Pepper Place, and we have many exciting new tenants joining us. In addition, the market at Pepper Place continues to grow and thrive. Our goal is to knit Pepper Place into the Railroad Park Corridor and Sloss Furnaces. Our work will be focused on the Lakeview District and Pepper Place for the foreseeable future.

Cathy Sloss Jones on Redevelopment and Transportation

02.21.2014

By:  Cindy F. Crawford | Birmingham Business Journal


Cathy Sloss Jones, president and CEO of Sloss Real Estate, is always on the go, traveling the world with her husband, D. Paul Jones, the former head of Compass Bank, or meeting with urban planners all over the country.

When she was in Birmingham recently, Jones took some time to meet with me in her office on Southside that has a stunning view of Vulcan on Red Mountain to Sloss Furnace on First Avenue North that her great-great grandfather founded more than a century ago.

The Sloss name carries on through her as she runs a real estate company that conducts mostly redevelopment of areas like Pepper Place, the Hope VI project Park Place downtown and Lakeview, where they own quite a bit of property.


But here are some additional questions and answers I got out of the high-energy visionary who is passionate about Birmingham’s success and what it takes to make it successful, from economic development to transportation.

On economic development:  
Birmingham is one of the truly beautiful cities, thanks to our natural and built environment. We have an incredible history, many of the finest arts and cultural institutions in the Southeast with creative and engaged leadership. Our restaurants and chefs are nationally recognized (with three James Beard nominees this week). TheLakeshore Foundation is known around the world for its work on behalf of people with disabilities in the field of athletics and recreation. And our Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport is excellent. My urban planning friends who visit Birmingham say that we have an embarrassment of riches, and I agree. Who wouldn’t want to live and work in such a beautiful place? But in order to continue growing, to improve education and rebuild our neighborhoods, we need stronger public/private partnerships, government and businesses working better together. To me, this is key.

And the small things count. We are very proud of The Market at Pepper Place. It has grown from seven to 100 tents and incubated many small food businesses over the past 15 years. I’ve been told by representatives from UAB and other companies that our farmers market is one of their best recruitment tools to Birmingham.

On regional cooperation: 
It’s evolving and the conversation has started, with the mayors of many major cities in Alabama starting to talk to each other. But what would our urban agenda look like? What are the five most important urban issues? We need to talk about that together.

On transportation: 
We need a city center circulator that can move the 80,000 people who work downtown easily, because you can’t walk from the (Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex) to Five Points or from Five Points to the entertainment district. We need a circulator that is rail, on a track. It would be a people mover and can be inexpensive.

We need to make 20th Street a go-to district with more lighting, landscaping, street furniture, art and make it a main pathway for Birmingham.

On the historic redevelopment tax credit: 
It has been highly important. I was in and out of the conversation for years and I’m a huge supporter. We need more (tax credit money) and more cities in the state can use it to help redevelop historic properties.

 

View Original Article Online 

Sloss Real Estate is Recognized by the BBJ for Having Two of the Top Commercial Real Estate Deals of 2013

02.03.2014

Birmingham Business Journal 


The recent edition of the Birmingham Business Journal recognizes Sloss Real Estate twice in the BBJ's listing of the top Commercial Real Estate Deals of 2013 for their efforts toward the Baptist Health relocation and the redevelopment of the Young and Vann Building.  

The BBJ's editorial team makes this selection based on the size and scope of the deal, as well as the overall impact on the market and local economy. The articles reports the common theme seen in the 2013 top deals is revitalization.  Each of the deals selected show potential to spark additional redevelopment, which is why they were selected as the top Commercial Real Estate Deals of the year.  

Revitalization of our city has always been the core mission of Sloss Real Estate, which is reflected in both deals recognized by the BBJ.  Below each of the featured Sloss deals appear as they did in the BBJ, which provides a basic overview of the work performed, as well as the impact made on the city.  To view all deals and read the full article, click here. 


BAPTIST HEALTH

THE DEAL:  The Baptist Health relocation allows Lakeview development 

THE BASICS:  
Baptist Health relocated their office to Ridge Park, while Sloss Real Estate purchased the former head quarters with plans to redevelop.  
 

WHY IT MATTERS:   
The deal kept Baptist Health in the city limits of Birmingham, and will allow Sloss to redevelop more than an entire city block in the revitalized Lakeview district.

 


YOUNG AND VANN BUILDING

 

THE DEAL:  Young and Vann Renovation

THE BASICS:  
Downtown's Young and Vann Building is being redeveloped to become the new home of Alabama Media Group.
 

WHY IT MATTERS:   
It’s one of many redevelopments in the works along First Avenue near Railroad Park. Along with the new intermodal facility, it’s expected to be a catalyst in that area of the city.