Wondering if downtown Birmingham living is right for you? And if so, which part of the Loft District really has your name on it? Our friends at Nequette Architecture & Design recently made the leap from renting a downtown office to creating their own downtown development on 2nd Avenue North. They loved the neighborhood enough to buy into it, and we think it’s worth sharing why.
Even since we started this blog–two years ago now–the 2nd Avenue corridor has undergone some dramatic changes. Urban Standard, El Barrio, and Charm were all there, but Bamboo’s owners were still running Tavern on the Summit. And Paramount was an empty former yogurt shop. The “walkable energy” of this now very mixed-use area was part of the draw for his firm, Louis Nequette told us.
“We were trying to find a walkable community environment,” he explained. The firm considered our two favorite over-the-mountain spots, Homewood and Mountain Brook, but also set their sights on the downtown market. They quickly honed in on Second Avenue, according to Nequette.
“We said, let’s move down here and do a short-term rent and just see what it feels like. But it didn’t take but a few months to fall in love with the energy down here and the people and the character.”
Sold on the neighborhood, we helped them close on a building within the same block. A combination of street-level retail, upper-floor lofts, and their own penthouse design studio, Nequette said construction on the development should be completed in November 2017.
And their current space won’t have a chance to be empty, Nequette said. Not only is there a tenant lined up to replace his firm, but an art gallery should be moving into the ground floor as soon as April 2017.
For a firm with a big stake in building community, Nequette believes 2nd Avenue is the ultimate design lab for his firm. “It represented everything we wanted to embrace and the type work we do and learn from by participating in.
“We said, why not find a way to be permanently involved.”