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Is MAKEbhm Avondale's Real "Brooklyn" Moment?



We’re so used to thinking about Avondale in terms of its food and entertainment options that we forget the ways it’s also increasingly becoming a business district. Already there are some retail options and small business locations, but we can’t help thinking the new MAKEbhm space is Avondale’s defining business moment.

The new Avondale location has always been part of the plan, according to a recent Weld article, but MAKE founder Bruce Lanier decided to pilot the project in a smaller space at Continental Gin. The pilot experience changed Lanier’s conception of the needs MAKE was serving, he told Weld, and prompted a shift toward providing space rather than just equipment rental.

“What we figured out was that our initial assumption that people would just want to come in and pay a membership fee to use equipment turned out not to be true. But what we did have consistently is people who just needed workspace–which is obvious, I guess, but it wasn’t obvious at first.”

Reading the Weld piece, we can’t help thinking about the new Make as a kind of Innovation Depot for artists. It cites Yellowhammer Creative as an example of a business born at MAKE’s Continental Gin proving ground, now in their own shop a block over from the new MAKE complex.

Like many of the recent moves by Innovation Depot graduates to spaces downtown, MAKE isn’t just nurturing businesses. It’s very likely nurturing local businesses that, like Yellowhammer Creative, will help fill out some of Avondale’s vacant spaces.

So while the focus of the Weld piece was on how MAKE is “building creative community” from its Avondale space, we’re thinking about it as a catalyst for Avondale as the next big live/work neighborhood. After all, MAKE is slated to have co-working space upstairs, according to Weld, and the coming Box Row will be an opportunity for mid-term entrepreneurial expansion.

Surrounding those opportunities are housing options from our own apartment rentals to adorable single-family bungalows. Besides its housing stock, Avondale boasts a Zyp bike station, an Urban Food Project outpost, and possibly our favorite local burger. With MAKE, in other words, it has the makings of a full-blown artistic enclave.

The foodies at What to Eat in Birmingham labeled Fancy’s on Fifth as Avondale’s urban “tipping point.” We think MAKE is the moment it fulfilled Thrillist’s Brooklyn prophecy.