We love Five Points South because it refuses to be shackled to a particular scene. Up-and-comers like Avondale, for instance, are the vanguards of a popular new aesthetic, but Five Points is more of a lovable misfit playground. Its commercial center is a collection of places with very specific ideas, each targeting its own subset of customers and patrons. So while the same customer would likely visit Melt and Wasabi Juan’s and Parkside, the same customer would not necessarily frequent Highlands and Ranelli’s and World of Beer.
That’s the way of the residents we know here too: a charming conglomeration of student renters, almost retirees, and young professional preservationists, often on the same street. There’s a certain kind of character that happens when you have an assortment of seemingly dissimilar people living more or less side by side, and we think it’s very special. Before urban renewal was an achievable goal and LIV Birmingham an actual movement, Five Points South had plenty of life in it.
In some ways it’s the hardest Birmingham neighborhood to define because there’s such tremendous variability from street to street. Some blocks are mostly single-family and almost suburban while apartment complexes consume others. As in Highland Park, some of the grander homes have been reimagined for accessible multi-family living. It is green and walkable and dog friendly with a few of the rough edges that keep character properties affordable.
It’s perhaps the most traditional city neighborhood, with its mix of housing types, its small shops tucked into the residential landscape, and bona fide commercial centers. We also think of Five Points as the most diverse mix of race, income, and ethnicity in the city — thanks in large part to the influence of UAB and the Medical District. In fact, some of Birmingham’s most endearing ethnic food phenomena — 24 hour Mediterranean at Al’s Deli and Grill on 10th Avenue South and prepackaged Indian takeout at Wilson’s Market — are in the neighborhood, no doubt driven by the combination of weird hours and international students a university community fosters.
This is the neighborhood for folks who really embrace the melting pot ideal. If you want a quiet, certain neighborhood with a reliable landscape and predictable sorts of neighbors, this might not be your best fit. If, on the other hand, you loved the energy of living in a freshman dorm, your home might be waiting here.