A place that bustled with shoppers for generations of Birmingham, Alabama, residents, but then sat empty for 28 years, has been fully revived. The Pizitz celebrated its official grand opening on March 16 and festivities for the local community continued throughout the weekend.
The grand opening of The Pizitz was held last week in its signature Food Hall with an unveiling ceremony that included remarks from Mayor William Bell and David L. Silverstein, Principal at Bayer Properties, to celebrate the opening of the newly restored crown jewel of downtown Birmingham.
The Pizitz Food Hall features 13 vendor stalls and two full-service restaurants with cuisines from around the world, surrounded by a central bar named The Louis, along with Yellowhammer Creative’s retail store and Warby Parker, the first in the state of Alabama. The Pizitz Food Hall is expected to be a foodie haven, bringing visitors from Birmingham and beyond.
“We hope this project will be transformative for downtown Birmingham in the same way other projects before us have been, such as Regions Field and Railroad Park,” Silverstein says. “The revitalization of The Pizitz is just one of many extraordinary projects helping in the resurgence of the downtown area and we are thrilled to be a part of the momentum.”
The grand opening marked the culmination of 24-months of work on the $70 million transformation of the former Pizitz Department Store, which opened in 1923 and closed in 1988.
The Residences at The Pizitz that occupy the six upper floors of The Pizitz opened in December 2016. Residents of The Pizitz can enjoy several best-in-class amenities including The Skyline with a rooftop plunge pool featuring breathtaking panoramic views of the Magic City, a fitness center with locker rooms complete with steam showers, and saunas plus convenience to many of the cities popular attractions like the Alabama Theatre and Railroad Park.
“This is truly a joyous occasion for the city, and a time to celebrate another of its’ landmarks coming back to life,” Mayor Bell says. “This project has generated a lot of excitement and adds another great destination point for all of us who live here and for visitors to the great city of Birmingham to enjoy.”
The Pizitz building sat empty for more than a quarter century after its namesake department store closed. Now the structure houses 143 one-and-two-bedroom apartments, 13,000 sq. ft. of modern and co-working office space, The Pizitz Food Hall, and will soon be home to Sidewalk Film Festival’s permanent offices in addition to two 100-seat theatres, and classrooms for educational programs. The Pizitz also has a courtyard for outdoor dining and events, plus a seven-level attached parking deck with more than 300 spaces.
Visitors to The Pizitz will have a lot to take in as they enjoy the open space on the ground floor, highlighted by The Pizitz Food Hall, which features The Louis, a central bar designed to appeal to all ages. In addition to spirits, beer and wine, The Louis – named for Pizitz founder, Louis Pizitz – will feature milkshakes and fountain sodas from Birmingham Pepsi distributor Buffalo Rock Company. Additionally, The Louis has installed a vintage Pepsi fountain found only in a few U.S. establishments.
Another unique feature of the historical rejuvenation is a large antique clock that hangs above the Food Hall on the north side of The Pizitz. The long-forgotten Pizitz clock was discovered in the early stages of renovation hidden behind plaster in the west side of the building, and was meticulously restored to its original condition. Bayer Properties leaders decided to relocate the clock to a prominent position within the Food Hall for all to enjoy.
While longtime Birmingham residents will surely enjoy coming back to a place they last visited decades ago, they and first time visitors alike will discover a thoroughly modern dining experience in The Pizitz Food Hall. Foodies will enjoy cuisines from Ethiopia, Israel, Nepal, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii and more, including fresh twists on the classic American grilled cheese, hamburger and hotdog.
One of the stalls serves as an incubator for Birmingham’s up-and-coming culinary talent to gain market experience while perfecting their business models. The chefs will rotate every four to six months. The stall is supported through Bayer Properties’ partnership with REV Birmingham and their business development programs including BIZ 1.0 and CO.STARTERS, both designed to help entrepreneurs in the community grow local business. The featured chefs will be selected upon the completion of these workshops.
“Our goal is to create an environment that is a vibrant gathering spot for residents and visitors. The Pizitz occupies a prominent location that will connect Second Avenue, the Southside and the Central Business District,” Silverstein says. “We’re excited to be part of the newly revitalized culture of downtown Birmingham by repurposing this historic building.”
Bayer Properties partnered with local food bloggers What to Eat in Birmingham to help identify unique restaurant concepts and best-in-class food entrepreneurs. Bayer Properties worked with contractors Brasfield & Gorrie as well as Appleseed Workshop in partnership with Golden Construction to restore the building. Bayer Properties also partnered with several architects on the project including Wisznia Architecture + Development, KPS Group, Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio, and Appleseed Workshop. The Pizitz building is owned by Bayer Properties, Wisznia Architecture + Development, and Stonehenge Capital.