Birmingham historic renovation groundbreaking to provide affordable housing thanks to Opportunity Zones
[HUD SE Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland- Leggett congratulates City of Birmingham, local leaders and partners in making the renovation of American Life Building a reality.]
HUD SE Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland- Leggett congratulates City of Birmingham, local leaders and partners in making the renovation of American Life Building a reality.
[(Left to Right) -  Local area community leader and developer, City of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; Josh Carpenter, Director of Economic Development for the City of Birmingham and HUD Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett briefly discuss Opportunity Zone work in the city.]
(Left to Right) - Local area community leader and developer, City of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin; Josh Carpenter, Director of Economic Development for the City of Birmingham and HUD Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett briefly discuss Opportunity Zone work in the city.

HUD SE Region Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett participates in historic groundbreaking

As HUD Southeast Region Administrator, Denise Cleveland-Leggett approached the microphone to deliver remarks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the renovation of the old American Life Insurance Building into 140 units of work force housing she looked over her shoulder at the work that had already begun. She noted that knowing that the building had sat vacant for more than 36 years it was so good to hear the sound of work being done to restore a once noble and historically impactful fixture of Birmingham. And then she paused for just a moment before noting that she was looking forward to coming back to hear an even nicer sound, the sound of families building lives in the renovated space.

The American Life building has been a public eyesore on the Birmingham landscape for nearly four decades. Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin noted that the ongoing existence of the building as a deteriorating eye sore, "…in our City center it has hung over Birmingham as a constant reminder that even though we enjoy pockets of prosperity, hardships still persist in Birmingham but today we are announcing that the American Life building is once again going to be filled with life."

Scott Turner, Executive Director of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council was excited to be a part of the ground-breaking activity for this project. He noted that many people dream of doing big things, "…but that the success of this project was rooted in so many people choosing to dream with their eyes open."

The recently announced Opportunity Zone initiative has been a key factor in making the renovation of the building possible after all these years. Eleven million dollars of the twenty- four million dollars needed to complete the renovation came in the form of Opportunity Zone funding. The property will also receive $6.24 million in federal and state tax credits, $2 million from the State of Alabama and another $2.2 million from the City of Birmingham and other sources.

Ed Ticheli, the owner and developer for the project, noted that the project will not feature traditional low-income housing with rental assistance attached to each unit. Rather rents will be unsubsidized, with a projected rent range of $700 to $1,200 per month, which should be affordable for working families.

The City of Birmingham has been nationally recognized for the leadership they have shown on this initiative and the American Life building renovation is one of many innovative projects under consideration in the City of Birmingham as an outcome of implementation of the Opportunity Zone Initiative. On a quiet summer morning, the HUD Southeast Region Administrator joined an excited group of local community leaders in celebrating the first steps in the renovation of the American Life building as workforce housing and Birmingham’s renaissance as the city’s future looks even brighter going forward.

Opportunity Zones are a powerful vehicle for bringing economic growth and job creation to the American communities that need it the most. On average, the median family income in an Opportunity Zone is 37 percent below the state median. Overall, more than 8,700 communities in all 50 States, Washington D.C., and five U.S. territories have been designated as Opportunity Zones. Nearly 35 million Americans live in communities designated as Opportunity Zones. The program offers capital gains tax relief to those who invest in these distressed areas. This program is anticipated to spur $100 billion in private capital investment in Opportunity Zones. Incentivizing investment in low-income communities fosters economic revitalization, job creation, and promotes sustainable economic growth across the nation, especially in communities HUD serves. Read more about Opportunity Zones.