2012 1st Ave N.
Birmingham, Al 35203
info@h2realestate.com
205.583.5007

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205.583.5007

The Story Behind 2112 Morris Avenue – Now Listed for $458,000

It’s 1998 and the scene in downtown Birmingham is 180 degrees different than the scene we know today. The “Loft District” was not yet a sought after downtown community but Elisa Crowder was ahead of the curve. Already occupying space downtown at the Wheelock Building for her business, Elisa was in search of a live-work space that she could customize to suit her needs and aesthetic preferences.

When she initially viewed the space she now calls home, it was the open floor plan, high ceilings and storefront windows that drew her in. Formerly an art gallery, Elisa saw it as blank canvas to design the live/work space she was imagining.

Overall Elisa wanted the condo’s aesthetic to feel industrial and contemporary with a soothing color palette and almost everything in the space is custom. She added curved walls to create visual interest, aluminum baseboards to tie in the exposed ductwork, solid birch doors and earth-toned marble flooring can be found throughout. 3-Form translucent and polyresin architectural panels were incorporated in several areas and feature a design of grass, leaves, and water to bring earthy elements into the mix.

It’s fair to say that beyond the architectural details, this condo offers amenities that aren’t often found downtown. The master bathroom features a Jacuzzi tub, walk-in shower, dual sinks and heated towel racks. A sound system was also installed throughout the home so Elisa could enjoy music in every room.

“Downtown Birmingham is developing so quickly and this property is in the center of it all, “ said Elisa when describing her favorite aspects of the home. She has loved being walking distance to numerous restaurants and bars (The Atomic is right next door), taking exercise classes at Railroad Park, popping into of art galleries and going to shows in the Theatre district. “It’s nice to have everything so close.” From new restaurants like The Essential to The Famous Peanut Depot, Barons games, breweries and clothing boutiques, everything is at right your fingertips.

“Having a work-live space right in the center of and in walking distance to all of this activity has been wonderful and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else in Birmingham.”

Now this fabulous 2,0000 square foot condo could be yours and features a new price! Contact us today to view this unique 2 bedroom / 2 bathroom loft-style condo in the heart of downtown. View the listing here.

 

Local Spotlight: The Essential

Downtown Birmingham is definitely having a moment. This summer has been full of exciting additions to the area and the H2 office is buzzing about our new across the street neighbors, The Essential, a new concept from the founders of Baking Bandits and Feast & Forest. We stopped by the recently opened restaurant – located at the bottom of Founders Station on Morris Avenue – and chatted with owner Kristen Hall about her vision, how she got here, and of course, food!

 

“When we opened Feast & Forest the long term plan was always to expand and find a bigger space, but that need ended up coming much sooner than expected,” Kristen explained over coffee. Architecture was key to their vision, which led Kristen and co-owner Victor King to search for the right space for two years. When they initially looked at the location The Essential now occupies, it was a bank drive-thru that was partially underground. The building itself dates back all the way to it’s construction in 1887 so needless to say it took some creative vision to turn this spot into a charismatic restaurant. The cobblestone charm of Morris Avenue and untapped potential of the historic street were key factors in selling the space to the restaurateurs. “It has been a long time since this beautiful street has seen it’s full potential,” Kristen noted. In the end, they felt that choosing this new home on Morris Avenue would hopefully spark more businesses to join them.

The renaissance of downtown is evident, making it an exciting time to make the move into the city for professional or residential reasons. Kristen, who is passionate about the ‘rebirth’ of the area, told us there was no doubt in her mind that the new restaurant would follow Feast & Forest’s lead and occupy a home in town as well. “The downtown spirit is so different. There is so much heart in the city and it’s exciting to see so much opportunity for growth. Endless possibilities!”

While it’s apparent that Kristen and Victor have found their professional sweet spots, their paths weren’t always headed in this direction. Kristen, who has a bachelor’s degree in biology and masters in public health, had spent her first twelve years working at UAB in medical education and community relations. But, she was always dreaming of new things, and eventually the time was right. “Sometimes things chose you.” The mom of two, soon started baking with her daughters and would leave treats on neighbor’s doorsteps, ring the doorbell and leave. Hence they became known as the “Baking Bandits.” That venture spiraled into Saturdays at the Farmer’s Market and eventually led to Kristen entering and winning Birmingham’s first “Big Pitch “ competition.

Co-owner Victor King who has a degree in entrepreneurship from Samford University has worked in restaurants for most of his professional career. He spent over 3 years working at Highlands Bar and Grill before pursuing a role in butchery. The pair met in late 2014 and realized that their perspectives on food worked well together, and they began building a plan for a brick and mortar. A few months later, construction began on 24th Street and Feast & Forest was born

Photo Credit: Mountainside Photo Co.

So why rebrand from Feast & Forest to The Essential? “Feast and Forest was a season, a chapter in a book, and it was very specific to that space,” Kristen detailed as she described why The Essential needed a story of it’s own. Victor and Kristen’s love for food and produce led them to want to do the minimal amount of things to it in order to make the food taste it’s best. They wanted the space, menu and name to honor this straightforward approach, thus “The Essential “ was born.

Fans of Banking Bandits need not worry though, just like these famous pastries were a part of Feast & Forest, they’ve once again found their new home at The Essential and Kristen is excited to announce the imminent launch of her new blog which will be centered around the fundamentals of baking pastries.

The Essential offers unique options for every meal. The menu will change seasonally so be sure to stop in every few weeks for a good sampling of what they offer. If you’re headed over there for the first time, Kristen recommends trying the Eggplant and Okra “It’s the perfect collaboration for summer.” She also recommends trying the Chicken Liver Mousse Éclair – the perfect collaboration of Kristen and Victor’s pastries and savory tendencies. “It’s the best of both worlds, I love to take pastries to unexpected places.” If that’s not your speed, they make all pastas by hand and Kristen suggests trying the rigatoni, paired with the roasted beet salad, and pork shoulder with peaches, cucumber and peanuts from next door! Try the blackberry almond cake and lemon meringue tart for dessert.

The aesthetic at The Essential is dripping with charm – a unique marble tile pattern lines the floor around the bar and a rich blue tone is carried subtly throughout the restaurant. “One thing we wanted to accomplish was to be open 7 days a week so that we can be part of every person’s, every day – from breakfast to cocktails. We wanted to create a home away from home for people who live and work downtown and love our city.” The end goal with the design was always to transform people’s experience of Birmingham and both owners are proud to know that their Parisian-esque spot transports people out of their typical Birmingham environment.

Photo Credit: Mountainside Photo Co.

Welcome to Birmingham!

            We’re so excited you decided on Birmingham for your new home. This city we love has so much to offer from food to the great outdoors. We know it’s not easy being in a new city so we’ve pulled together a guide of our favorite local spots. Enjoy!

Food

Highlands Bar & Grill

Recently named “Most Outstanding Restaurant in America,” this is an iconic Birmingham spot. Don’t forget to try the award winning coconut cake while you’re there!

Chez FonFon

Another charming Frank Stitt spot. Slightly more relaxed atmosphere and excellent French inspired cuisine.

Hot and Hot Fish Club

Classic Birmingham. We recommend sitting at the chef’s table for the full experience.

Jack Browns

Although Birmingham has some outstanding burgers, Jack Browns is arguably one of the best. The extensive beer offering, secret sauce and outrageous burger selections (try one with mac and cheese or peanut butter) make this spot unlike any other.

Fancy’s on 5th

Another great spot to grab an out-of-the-ordinary burger, or oysters. Fancy’s often has live music on the patio and a creative cocktail menu that never disappoints.

El Barrio

The best Mexican food in town. Try their seasonal guacamole and margarita for a real taste of something different!

Bamboo on 2nd

Right across the street from El Barrio, downtown. You won’t find more delicious sushi!

The Essential

This charming new spot on Morris Ave is known for their homemade pop tarts but don’t miss out on their lunch and dinner menus!

Bottega

Dine on the casual side, formal side or al fresco. Bottega is a classic Highland Park spot with a little something for everyone.

Hotbox

A unique dinning experience – don’t let the airstream and low key atmosphere fool you, this food is no joke

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Drinks

Breweries

The Bham beer scene is pretty strong. Head to Good People before a Barons game, take your dog to Avondale or try out the new Back Forty. Did we mention Trim Tab, Cahaba, Ghost Train and Red Hills? Explore multiple stops in one afternoon when you book a Pedal Tour.

The Collins Bar

Let these mixologists create the cocktail you never knew existed and play a few board games while you wait. This is a great spot to grab a drink after work.

The Atomic

Take a time machine back to the 1960’s at this downtown bar. You can even choose a costume off the costume menu. It’s a unique cocktail experience to say the least.

Brat Brot

Birmingham’s first German biergarten. The indoor/outdoor space is uniquely charming and offers bocce and fire pits. Enjoy both German and local beers as well as German food selections.

Lou’s

It might not look like much but you’ll feel right at home with the friendly and knowledgeable staff. Don’t forget to play a round of Yahtzi for a chance to win some cash!

Marble Ring/Zeldas

Birmingham’s 1920’s speakeasy experience. Enter through a phone booth in Hot Diggity Dog’s and enjoy a throwback to the flapper era. Now you can enjoy a glitter themed dance floor out on the patio at Zeldas!

Moon shine

This rooftop bar can be found at the top of The Elyton Hotel. Comfortable seating and great view make this is laid back spot to catch up with friends.

Pilcrow

Coming soon to Morris Ave, we can’t wait to try out this Mezcal speakeasy! A first for Birmingham!

Music & Entertainment

Iron City

This restaurant and event space doubles as a concert venue and when they’re not hosting live music, they’re offering family friendly events, sports viewing parties and more.

Saturn

Coffee shop, bar, concert venue and all around entertainment center thanks to their selection of board and video games. There’s constantly something fun going on here.

Alabama Theatre

This Birmingham landmark offers plays, concerts, and even movie nights! Catch a different Christmas movie every night of the week during December!

Lyric Theatre

The oldest theatre in Birmingham has been restored and is used for concerts, ballets and entertainment of all kinds!

Outdoors

Rufner Mountain

Get some fresh air and hike the beautiful trails of this nature preserve. You can also enjoy family and community events a couple times a month at the nature center.

Railroad Park

This 8-block green space in the heart of the city is a great place to spend time outdoors. Enjoy free exercise classes, summer concerts and ice skating in the winter.

Vulcan Trail

This two mile trail has been recently expanded and leads straight to The Vulcan and Vulcan museum.

Zyp Bikes

The easiest and most affordable way to get around the downtown area. You can rent a Zyp bike at one location and return it to another.

Rotary Trail

A nod to Birmingham’s history, this is a great place in the city to take a stroll!

The Appeal of the Semi-Custom Home

semi-custom homes

semi-custom homes

We love to show off just how much you can accomplish working with great architectural talent. But not everyone has the patience for that process. Which is part of the reason we spend so much time developing communities full of semi-custom or even turnkey options. Wondering what that means for your options? We asked Louis Nequette, of Nequette Architecture and Design, to explain this particular design process.

If you come in early in the process, he notes, you’ll have more customization options. But you don’t have to do that to have a home that feels special. The key, as Louis describes it, is to create enough designs that we avoid constant repetition. “We want them to have the individuality and identity of custom homes,” he says, but with a more streamlined process.

“What’s been happening mostly is someone has come in as it’s getting built and slightly customized it,” he says. “And some of the happiest people buy it after it’s done.” That’s especially true in our Smith Lake communities, Silverock Cove and Hawk’s Nest.

“Because let’s face it, those kind of second home purchases are impulse, somewhat. They’re emotional, as they should be. And when you see it and you like it, you’d love to be able to use it.”

We want you to be able to get away from it all, including design decisions. But that doesn’t mean you should accept a sub-par space just to enjoy it as-is. We know there’s another way, and we’d be happy to show it to you.

As Louis explains it, we try “to always be completing unsold houses so that someone has that opportunity to buy it and move right in.” It’s a perspective that works perfectly with Nequette Architecture & Design’s creative process: “We imagine that family before they even exist and try to create the right living environment so that they can step right in and have a good time.”

 

 

Inspiration for Your Kitchen Refresh at Avondale’s Winslet & Rhys

inspiration for your kitchen refresh

inspiration for your kitchen refresh

It’s a common problem, particularly in older homes: the need to update a tired kitchen space with the constraints of a post-purchase budget. Or, the desire to maintain some original features at war with the need for a better functioning kitchen. We’ve found inspiration for your kitchen refresh with simple, crafted tweaks à la Avondale’s Winslet & Rhys.

The store’s kitchenette is a lesson in modern ideas coexisting with older ones. It’s Avondale’s last-century charm filtered through a spare design eye. And it absolutely works.

Here’s how, in just three steps:

 

Paint. Paint. Paint.

Winslet & Rhys’s cabinets are new and streamlined, but what really makes them special is the color. The lovely deep, true blue of the shop’s base cabinets would spruce up existing cabinetry — either of the too-worn original or the used-to-be updated variety. A good paint job truly goes a long way.

 

Embrace wood.

It may seem counterintuitive, especially since we just suggested paint, but hear us out. If you’re facing sad laminate countertops or tile that’s seen better days, consider replacing it with wood. This Old House has a whole feature on the practical considerations. Short of marble, though, wood is probably your best blending of modern tastes and classic materials. And with its lower price point, you may have enough budget left for a modern waterfall edge à la Winslet & Rhys. Just bear in mind that deeper wood stains will look more old school, and pale woods err more Scandinavian modern.

 

Flex your storage space.

Open shelving is a trend with staying power, but Winslet & Rhys uses large-scale pegboard for a clever twist. Replace uppers with open pegboard shelving for a solution that feels charmingly crafted, not to mention flexible. As an added bonus, the pegboard anchor is also a stylish substitute for a standard tile backsplash.

 

 

Urban Style: Bar Stools With Big Impact

satellite urban style bar stools

satellite urban style bar stools

There are lots of ways to personalize your home with big renovations, or even custom installation work. But what if you want big style, no professionals required? For that, we suggest interesting accessories that stand out in streamlined spaces. One key example for urban style: bar stools with big impact.

The sheer power of repetition makes it an effective style trick. When you have three or four of something, after all, it tends to command notice. Be warned that a great bar stool rarely comes cheap, but it is an easy and portable style choice.

And you need not look through decor magazines or even the rabbit hole of Pinterest. We’ve simplified matters by drawing on our own local inspiration. We’ve looked at ideas around town and found these bar stool examples for your kitchen style game.

 

Downtown:

Paramount’s bar stools are unusually linear, a heavy metal frame supporting a pale rectangle of wood. Part of their job is not to overshadow the more flamboyant automotive references in the space, but they’re well designed in their own right. We can easily imagine them adding a bit of industrial edge to a nearby downtown loft.

Harvest plays up the Redmont Hotel’s architectural gravitas with a smart variation on a classic bar stool shape. A single cutout punctuates an upholstered backrest for the custom tailoring of the stool world.

 

Lakeview:

Trimtab Brewing Company’s stools bring an automotive age to mind, befitting the former neighborhood of the Barber Motorsports Museum. The smoothly engineered curves, chrome bases, and integrated armrests remind us of great American cars. They’re sleek but road-tested.  

Slice Pizza & Brewhouse combines the retro feel of red vinyl with a sleek sculptural base. The color shines against a reclaimed wood bar and ties in nicely with other new restaurant openings in the area like Cashio’s Meatball Market and Babalu Tacos and Tapas. The base offers a place for the eye to linger and a nice reminder of the area’s recent industrial past.

 

Avondale:

Satellite plays up its space age styling with the stool version of a modern molded plastic chair. Long wooden legs angle out from the base with simple black supports. It’s a dose of nostalgia that still feels fresh, much like its 41st Street scene.

Hot Diggity Dogs has the most retro offering, which works for a brick-and-mortar hot dog stand in this neighborhood of casual nostalgia. The chrome stools with vinyl seats are a familiar shape with room for personalization.

 

 

The Garage Take on Neighborhood Character

garage birmingham

garage birmingham

Nothing quite captures the borderlands between Highland Park and Five Points South like the Garage. On an orphaned block behind an apartment building, it’s a bar you head to rather than stumble upon. Not anxious for outsiders, despite GQ’s travel recommendation. But it’s the ultimate neighborhood hangout for folks who love the eclecticism of Five Points South and the restful air of Highland Park.

To get there, park on 10th Terrace South (or walk from your Highland Park home). Then walk past scattered garden urns and reclaimed doors accented with holiday lights and neon beer signs. Inside, you’ll find a dimly lit, cash-only bar surrounded by simple wooden booths. It’s perfect in its bare-bones appeal, where the fanciest cocktail you’re prepared to order is a Bloody Mary (which Southern Living recommends, by the way).

But the real magic is out back, which looks like the domain of a twentieth century Miss Havisham. Filled with the detritus of another age, it’s now the perfect host for an evening with friends. Particularly ones you’re inclined to reminisce with.

Accented by fairy lights and studded with slightly uncomfortable seating, the patio may be the most authentic space in town. Some perfect amalgamation of Dave’s Pub, Rojo, and the Donnelly House, the Garage could only exist right where it is.

Main Street America says that downtowns are attractive because they’ve aged in a way that suburban communities haven’t. Yet the organization also recommends the kind of creative rehabilitation we’ve seen (and loved) in downtown Birmingham.

But the Garage suggests an alternative approach to celebrating an area’s age. The French way, at least as the New York Times describes it, which involves quality products, perhaps a treatment or three, but no harsh remodeling. That’s generally been the story of places in Highland Park and Five Points South, where things wear their age with grace but also comfort. In the way of tile honed by decades with a hairline crack for character.

 

 

Birmingham for Everyman at Bottega & Bottega Café

Bottega Café

Bottega Café

We’ve been known to describe Bottega Café as Bottega’s more affordable option. Which is true–entree prices average a good $10 lower on the café side–but almost missing the point. Where Bottega is a tailored fine dining experience, Bottega Café is the everyday foodie option.

Still, the magic of Frank Stitt’s fine dining is that he’s also carved out entry points. Like the blend of historic apartments and grand homes in the Five Points South and Highland Park neighborhoods surrounding Bottega and Bottega Café, there’s something for everyone. Wherever you are on your professional course, there’s a version of the Stitt experience you can (and really should) manage.

The café menu is eclectic, covering your dining needs from light snacks with wines by-the-glass to a multi-course meal with a bottle of bubbly. Or, as the café website describes it, a “relaxed spot where you can come for lunch and stay for dinner with a menu celebrating the warm spirit of Italian cuisine, while honoring the purest seasonal ingredients of the American South.”

It’s the easy fun of Five Points mixed with the grand influences of Highland Park. It’s also emblematic of the way Frank Stitt has helped define the Birmingham food scene and, with it, the city. He’s famous for his fine dining, but, as the Birmingham Business Journal reported in 2013, Stitt also helped lay the track for our city’s accessible foodie finds. The big flavors and easy atmosphere of places like Trattoria Centrale are rooted in Stitt’s food culture.

Then there’s the building, Bottega Favorita, for which the restaurants are named. “The overall structural form, massing and building materials reflect historic associations with the Italian Renaissance,” noted the building’s application to the National Register of Historic Places, “but the architectural detailing is typical of the popular 1920s trend toward the precision streamlined appearance of the modern machine age.”

Like so many Birmingham buildings of its era, there’s a reverence for the old coupled with ideas of its age (see also: the John Hand Building). And Bottega’s food, described on the restaurant website as a blend of Italian traditions and Southern foodstuffs, is the ultimate example of revival style on a plate.

 

 

Foodie Necessities at Western on Highland

Western on Highland

Western on Highland

Quick Quiz: Where can you get a sewing kit, local organic milk and a rotisserie chicken at midnight? The answer: Western Market on Highland Avenue. Long before the downtown Publix was a twinkle in a (much loved) developer’s eye, the Western on Highland was plying Five Points South and Highland Park residents with grocery essentials on their own scheduling terms.

The Western’s selection is abbreviated but solid. And it’s open all the time. Literally. It has the snack selection you’d expect plus plenty of prepared foods — sushi, sandwiches, even a Mexican food bar at times — but some local foodie treats that belie its gas station hours.

There’s a case of Heavenly Donut Co. near the cash registers, and Working Cow Dairy products in the milk case. Besides the expected Starbuck’s packs, Western on Highland offers Red Bike, Fairhope Roasting, and O’Henry’s blends.

Located in its own little restaurant row — Galley & Garden, Hot & Hot, and both Bottegas are within two blocks — its foodie bona fides make a little more sense. Even after a fancy dinner, there’s still tomorrow’s eating to deal with, after all. And filling up on a “chicken fried steak” doesn’t save you from needing a quart of milk or a bunch of bananas for morning. Or perhaps just a nightcap.

Beer lovers will find plenty of local crafted cans from Good People, Cahaba, and the like. There are also pithy Monday Night Brewing titles and New Belgium bottles. Even 22-ounce bottles of Miss Fancy’s Tripel and Scrumpy’s Hard Cider, for something a little different. 

We’re most likely to raid the frozen food section, which includes plenty of pizza options and a healthy ice cream selection. Plastic spoons next to the pints of Haagen Das make us wonder if the Western on Highland knows us too well.

But who among us hasn’t had an ice cream emergency? And more often than not, it happens just as larger grocery stores are shutting their doors. Our diets may give it the stink-eye, but our hungry hearts are forever grateful.

 

 

Future Fun at Avondale’s Satellite Coffee Bar

satellite coffee bar

satellite coffee bar

With a big brother like Saturn, the Satellite coffee bar side is bound to get overlooked. It’s bright but not flashy, a lounge rather than a party. But Satellite has built its own quirky atmosphere beyond its bar and coffee shop components. It offers something no place in Avondale does, blending the area’s nostalgic bent with a futuristic spirit.

Satellite is not your average Avondale joint. Its finishes lean smooth and its only exposed brick is exterior. It resides in a foodie neighborhood yet sells foodstuffs like gourmet doughnuts prepared by outside vendors. On the surface, it shouldn’t work, but it respects the one most important Avondale essence: a sense of fun.

From its rocket trash cans to its video games, its Tang-based frozen cocktail to its Sunday cereal brunch, it satisfies your inner child and the adult you’ve become. That’s the basis of hipster culture, after all, whether in handmade pop tarts or Moscow Mule mugs. And Satellite is one more example of why Avondale won the statewide “Brooklyn” title.

Satellite also fills a pretty practical entertainment need, in the end: a place with fun cocktails that more than accommodates the non-drinker. Your pregnant best friend may want to hang out after hours, after all. Or you may want to get your kid a craft soda while you enjoy something more adult. Satellite is just the place.

Its more traditional coffee shop function–fueling the side-hustle–may become less important as the MAKEbhm co-working space evolves, but it’s equipped nevertheless. The shop’s website boasts a bar with integrated charging stations. More important is the air of gleeful creativity, from space-age decor to shared Saturn ethos. It’s a place waiting for your next big idea to land.

In the meantime, we love the Stumptown coffee, and we’ve heard great things about that Tang cocktail. It’s a Steva Casey creation, after all.