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Back smaller builders to tackle housing shortage says Wayne Hemingway

Fashion giant turned urban designer Wayne Hemingway has called on Government to speed up house building for young people.

Mr Hemingway, who famously founded the Red or Dead fashion house, told a meeting of council bosses at the Library of Birmingham that they should emulate Birmingham City Council’s Municipal Housing Trust to tackle the national shortage.

The Housing Trust is currently the largest house builder in the West Midlands with 800 properties under construction and more in the pipeline, and is looking to rapidly expand its output to help meet the city’s target of 89,000 new homes by 2031.

But he said the Government also needed to encourage more smaller building firms to start developing rather than wait for the big construction beasts who he accuses of restricting housing growth to drive up demand and keep profits high.

Mr Hemingway said his staff, many professional young people earning a good living in the creative industries, could never afford a house and have nowhere decent to rent. “Most of them are in constant dispute with their landlords,” he said. “And there are people in a much worse position than them.”

“For those of us over 40 there was a feeling that if you rolled your sleeves up and put a bit of elbow grease you would most likely do better than your parents.”

He added young people today do not have that feeling.

He called for a change in the market to encourage smaller local building firms. Asked what the Government and town halls can do he said: “They can help people who will build faster while working with less margins.

!I know from my years in the industry the big house builders will build more slowly than they could, they will blame staff shortages, they will blame skill shortages but ultimately they often release a certain amount of homes every month which keeps demand up, keeps the price up and doesn’t serve society.

!When we get a big site of 300 or 400 homes it needs to be split among SMEs like Clive Jessup or Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust who all go on to a development and build it out fast.”

He said this will increase the pace and quality of the building through direct competition.”

He went on to praise Birmingham’s architectural renaissance, noting the large amount of construction work around Paradise, Arena Central and Centenary Square. He said: “I think the Library of Birmingham is a fantastic building. Birmingham is being noticed.”

Council leader John Clancy hosted the Local Government Association Conference event with Clive Jessup of Birmingham construction firm Jessup Brothers.

The council used the event to launch its document “Building great homes, creating great places” targeted at other councils and developers.

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Mario Addison speaks at Housing Authority’s ‘Man to Man’ event

Mario Addison speaks at the "Man to Man" event.(

He may have played in the Super Bowl, but the NFL’s Mario Addison told a group of Birmingham man that life is about more than athletic achievement.

Addison, who grew up in North Birmingham Homes, spoke to almost 200 people this week as a part of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District’s "Man to Man" event.

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Addison will also host a football camp for HABD youth this summer.

The program at the Smithfield Community Center brought together 180 men of all ages participating in this summer’s HABD summer camp. Addison, a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, urged the young men to seek and embrace the positive examples that are already present in their daily lives.

"It doesn’t always have to be your parents. There are other people," he said, motioning to the HABD staff lining the walls as examples.

Though Addison said playing in the NFL has been like "a dream come true," it’s not the only thing of importance in his life. He has had to adjust to his role as the father of an 8-year-old girl.

As a parent, Addison said he now understands that every decision he makes will impact his child.

"It ain’t all about Mario anymore," he said.

Addison told the group of teenagers and adolescents that it’s important to plan now for what they want to become in life. Athletics is not a guaranteed path to success. Even he is beginning to plan for life once his professional football career is over.

"We need more firemen, we need more teachers and lawyers, policemen," he said.

The event this week is an expansion of the annual HABD Fatherhood initiative. Activities in June are part of the national HUD initiative to promote fatherhood and positive lifestyles for men. The program this year includes outreach to younger men as well. Activities will continue throughout the summer, including a midnight basketball program.

"This was amazing. For a former resident to come back and spend time with our kids spoke volumes for me," said Cardell Davis, chairman of the HABD Board of Commissioners, who also participated in the panel discussion.

Addison ended the event with a drawing where two boys were awarded a shopping spree to Academy Sports next week.

HABD President/CEO Michael Lundy called Addison the prefect person to speak to the young men.

"The thing about his story is it’s so realistic," Lundy said. "He talked about the mentors in his life, and if it weren’t for the people in his life he would not have made it. Even with the ups and down, he still made it. The kids could identify with that."

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb is running for the Democratic nomination for governor. (Greg Garrison/ggarrison@al.com)

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Neighborhood Voices: Crestline

Hunter Williams speaks about the recent wave of crime in his area, and what he would like to see done about it.

Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Weld’s “Neighborhood Voices” series features interviews with the presidents of each of Birmingham’s 99 neighborhood associations about the strengths and challenges facing their communities. If you are a neighborhood leader and would like your neighborhood to be included, you can reach out to us at sam@weldbham.com.

The Crestline neighborhood sits east of Birmingham as a suburb of Mountain Brook, just south of Interstate 20 and Montclair Road and north of Old Leeds Road. Crestline borders the city of Mountain Brook and Birmingham’s Eastwood neighborhood. According to the Birmingham Housing Survey, the population of Crestline is 3,154. Parts of the neighborhood are represented by District 2’s Kim Rafferty and District 3’s Valerie Abbott.

Last week, Crestline Neighborhood President Hunter Williams spoke with Weld about concerns over crime and having all neighborhoods treated equally by city leaders.

Weld: Why did you decide to become your neighborhood’s president?

Hunter Williams: I wanted to become more involved. I think that there is a lot of momentum in Birmingham right now, and at the same time there is a lot that needs improving with our city. Instead of being on the sidelines, being neighborhood president was a good way that I could help contribute to fixing some of the issues we have locally.

Weld: How would you characterize the community involvement among members of your neighborhood?

Hunter Williams: Crestline is a very involved neighborhood. Most residents know each other and look after each other, probably more so now than ever with the large increase of crime our area has been experiencing.

Weld: What are some of the biggest problems facing your neighborhood?

Williams: Our number one issue in our neighborhood is crime. Burglaries, auto thefts, et cetera, are becoming commonplace. We would like to see more police presence in Crestline to help deter the increase in crime.

Weld: What are some other ways in which you’d like to see your neighborhood improve?

Williams: We would like to see the mayor’s office and the city council give our neighborhood the same resources they give other neighborhoods. We need sidewalks in certain high-pedestrian-trafficked areas, as well as street re-paving throughout the entire neighborhood. Initiatives like Operation Greenwave have taken services away from our area. If you drive through Crestline, all of the right-of-ways and public property need to be cut and have not been for a long time.

Weld: In what ways do you think the Birmingham city government could help your neighborhood improve and flourish?

Williams: The city of Birmingham could allocate public safety resources and tax dollars to our area. We understand that the growth of our city center is important to the city as a whole and benefits our neighborhood. However, it is also important that the city does not neglect any of the 99 neighborhoods.

Weld: What do you want Birmingham citizens outside of your neighborhood to know about your neighborhood?

Williams: Crestline is a great neighborhood for anyone looking to move. Property values have been steadily increasing over the past years, and people are always moving into the area. The people are always nice and welcoming, and it is convenient to grocery stores and several restaurants.

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Major plans for £125m Birmingham apartment complex

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A derelict spot in Birmingham city centre is set to be transformed into a plush new apartment block in a £125 million development.

City firm Court Collaboration has taken over the Holloway Head scheme, close to the giant Radisson Blu tower, and wants to start work on up to 487 apartments by next year.

New plans for the 17-storey scheme, drawn up by architect Corstorphine + Wright, also include ground floor shops as well as a gym and rooftop gardens for residents.

The plot has lain vacant for more than 25 years but, after agreeing a deal to buy it from Panther Securities, Court Collaboration’s founder Anthony McCourt says it has a bright future.

Panther has long been planning to regenerate the run-down spot, which is also home to Girlguide Birmingham, and it was once going to have a hotel and casino before taking a new direction two years ago to become residential.

Around 20 separate planning applications have been lodged for the site since the 1990s.

CGI of plans for 487 flats in Holloway Head

The development is a stone’s throw away from the most expensive apartment ever sold in the city centre – the £1.8 million penthouse at Concord House – and Mr McCourt said the area was becoming a more attractive place to live.

He said: "With Grand Central, the improvements to the Mailbox and the wider transformation of Birmingham city centre, Holloway Head is an in-demand location. We have something really special planned.

"This area is going to improve and improve and we’re thrilled to be a part of that. This shows our confidence in what is happening in the city.

"Things like the Curzon Street HS2 regeneration and the Smithfield scheme at the wholesale markets site are already transforming the city centre as a place to work and live and we are prepared to take risks and invest on the back of that vision.

"We are here in Birmingham seeing things happen in front of our eyes – you can’t do that from an office in north London."

Hertfordshire-based investor Panther Securities worked to get the scheme, at 49-51 Holloway Head, off the ground from 1990 but it resulted in the recent £11 million sale.

Mr McCourt thinks everything is in place to make a success of what he calls the "Leabank Quarter" near Holloway Head.

CGI shows how apartments will look at junction of Holloway Head and Ellis Street

He points to the nearby Concord House scheme in a former Debenhams warehouse as evidence of people willing to live in this area.

It will see the long-awaited rebirth of the derelict 1.3 acre brownfield site which is central to the regeneration of that corner of the city.

Mr McCourt said he expected to see interest from young professionals on the back of hundreds of jobs moving to Birmingham with the likes of HSBC and HS2 relocating here.

Hundreds of jobs will be created in the construction phase.

The apartments will be sold through Court Living – a new arm of the Colmore Row-based firm which will deal directly with the market.

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Why You Need To Move To Birmingham

Birmingham, Alabama is a great place to live and there are lots of benefits you can enjoy when you move there. Whether you like craft beer or love the outdoors, there are lots of amazing benefits you can enjoy when you move to Birmingham.

Birmingham has a very strong craft beer scene and there are lots of breweries to choose from. Many of the brew pubs have live music and great food and they are great places to spend some time. Birmingham is a great place to watch a live music show and there are lots of clubs and bars and places where you can catch a show.

If you enjoy festivals, you will enjoy living in Birmingham because it seems like there is a festival every weekend. Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy a free event on the weekend. If you love sports, you will really enjoy Birmingham because there are a ton of sports events to enjoy and the residents are really into their teams.

The city is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and there are so many things you can do where you don’t have to travel far. You can paddle boat, zip line, and enjoy some of the many parks that are easy to walk to. The weather is great in Birmingham and you don’t have to worry about snow or freezing cold temperatures.

You will enjoy plenty of sunshine when you visit or move to Birmingham and the city is is easy to travel around as it has a good public transportation system and the roads and freeways are not too crowded. If you want to visit or move to Birmingham, you can find some great things to do there and the city is very nice.

Birmingham Mayor William Bell joins network of mayors supporting Paris agreement

Birmingham Mayor William Bell

Birmingham Mayor William Bell has joined the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda, a network of more than 200 U.S. mayors working together to strengthen local efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat climate change.

The mayor’s announcement came just days after President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

"Our city has joined Climate Mayors to mutually strengthen grassroots-level, city-led activity on undertaking climate action by cleaning our energy sources, making of infrastructure efficient and growing our economy through investing in the sectors that enable a climate-compatible future," the mayor’s office said in a statement. "We will release a list of tangible steps the city is taking (this) week to make this adoption a reality."

Bell was one of 211 U.S. mayors to sign a June 1 statement committing to "adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement. We will intensify efforts to meet each of our cities’ current climate goals, push for new action to meet the 1.5 degrees Celsius target, and work together to create a 21st century clean energy economy

"We will continue to lead," the statement continued. "We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice. And if the President wants to break the promises made to our allies enshrined in the historic Paris Agreement, we’ll build and strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks."

Bell is the only Alabama mayor to join the Climate Mayors.

In this Jan. 18, 2017 photo, Chrycynthia Davis, mother of Kharon Davis, poses for a portrait inside the doorway of her home while holding a poster she made for her son during and interview for the Associated Press, in Dothan, Ala. Kharon Davis was 22-years-old when he was arrested on a capitol murder charge in 2007 and booked into the Houston County Jail. Davis has spent nearly a third of his life held without bond in the jail waiting for trial. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

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United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for annual Day of Action

Hands on Birmingham volunteers build a storage shed at the West End Community Garden. (File photo)

United Way’s Hands On Birmingham seeks volunteers for its annual Day of Action sponsored by EBSCO Industries.

Hands on Birmingham needs about 125 additional volunteers to participate in eight projects at local non-profit agencies. The event begins at 9 a.m. on June 6, according to the United Way.

Volunteers from four United Way affinity groups: The Tocqueville Society, Women United, Young Philanthropists and 50 Year Donors will be assembling senior care kits for Meals on Wheels clients at the New Hope Senior Center at 1310 17th Way SW in Birmingham.

To volunteer as an individual or organization, visit www.handsonbirmingham.org, email info@handsonbirmingham.org or call 205-251-5849.

Volunteers may choose from projects such as cleaning and organizing books for Better Basics, sorting food donations for the Community Food Bank of Central Al and cleaning the trails at Red Mountain State Park. Other volunteer locations include the Salvation Army, United Community Center, J.S. Abrams Elementary School and the ACIPCO/Finley neighborhood.

Hands On Birmingham, a United Way initiative, connects people with organized and meaningful volunteer opportunities to help bring about positive social change in their communities. Hands On Birmingham sponsors over 150 projects throughout the year and plans and implements large scale community projects and days of service to include: MLK Day, Family Volunteer Day, Project Homeless Connect, Day of Caring and 9/11 Week of Service and Remembrance.

Drakkar Fontez Avery Christian was shot to death Friday, May 26, 2017, at an Irondale home. A suspect is charged and sought in the killing.

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U.S. Marshals searching for wanted man in southwest Birmingham

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell

A search is underway in southwest Birmingham after a man wanted on felony warrants fled from U.S. Marshals searching for him.

Brandon Reshoyd Campbell, 25, was arrested last year on charges of attempted murder, violation of a domestic violence protection order, and burglary. The incident happened in October 2016 when authorities say he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s Birmingham home.

Once inside the home, he encountered another male and fired shots at him before fleeing the scene. He was arrested on the charges on Nov. 15, but later released on bond with a condition of electronic monitoring.

U.S. Marshal Marty Keely said Campbell cut off his electronic monitoring device, and the U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force was brought in to search for him. In April, Jefferson County District Judge Michael Streety issued an order noting that Campbell had repeatedly violated the monitoring conditions of his bond, despite warnings, instructions and citations.

Streety ordered that once in custody, Campbell be held without bond.

Keely said the task force received information of Campbell’s whereabouts Thursday morning and were searching for him in southwest Birmingham. When he spotted lawmen, he fled and led them on a brief chase. Ultimately, he bailed from his car and fled on foot.

The search is ongoing in the area of the 2100 block of Snavely Avenue where U.S. Marshals and Birmingham police have set up a perimeter. This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is released.

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Durham City Council to vote on $4.2 million grant for Fayette Place purchase

The Durham City Council is moving ahead with giving the Durham Housing Authority $4.2 million to buy 20 acres of crumbling foundations for future affordable housing.

The council plans to vote on the grant to Development Ventures Inc., (DVI) a development arm of the Durham Housing Authority, at its June 5 meeting.

The grant deal was on the council’s Thursday work session agenda, but members didn’t ask any questions or express concerns, indicating likely approval.

The money would allow DVI to re-purchase the property known as Fayette Place, which was sold to Campus Apartments in 2007. The area is bounded by Fayetteville, Umstead and Merrick streets, between downtown and N.C. Central University.

Most City Council members committed to supporting the grant at a recent Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods meeting.

On Thursday, City Councilman Charlie Reece said it’s essential to bring the property under public control.

Neighbors have expressed frustration for years about the vacant land and unmet promises.

They dated the decline of the once cohesive, affluent black neighborhood to longtime homeowners pushed out to make way for the Durham Freeway and a housing project billed as “urban renewal.”

Instead, the Fayetteville Street public housing complex opened, followed by plans for two affordable-housing projects that never happened.

The city grant will include more than $4 million to repurchase the property and $102,000 to maintain the property through 2019. About $47,000 would go to a market study and legal fees.

The purchase is set to close June 16. A market study is to be completed in August and the community-engagement process would be held in September.

The grant agreement requires the housing authority to mow the grass, remove trash and repair the fencing. The housing authority has to include affordable housing in whatever gets built and seek community input, including from the Hayti area and N.C. Central University.

The authority also has to provide quarterly financial updates and can’t sell the site without the consent of the city manager, the grant agreement states.

For about 35 years, the property housed the 200-unit Fayetteville Street public housing complex.

In the early 2000s, the Durham Housing Authority started to convert the property into Fayette Place, a low-income housing development funded with tax credits. The development never happened.

In 2007, Campus Apartments agreed to pay the authority $4 million for Fayette Place. The agreement allowed the authority to repurchase the property if Campus Apartments failed to rent at least 168 beds to N.C. Central University students or provide housing for low-income individuals.

Under the agreement, the housing authority can reacquire the property for the purchase price or a recent appraised value, whichever is higher. A recent appraisal valued the property at less than the $4 million the company paid.

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Durham city calendar for week of May 15-19

Durham City Government meetings scheduled this week include:

Monday, May 15

7:00 p.m. City Council Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

Tuesday, May 16

7:00 p.m. Durham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Wednesday, May 17

8:30 a.m. Public Art Committee of the Durham Cultural Advisory Board (Durham Arts Council/120 Morris Street)

9:30 a.m. Upper Neuse River Basin Association (Town Hall/Camp Butner Room/415 Central Avenue/Butner, NC 27509)

3:00 p.m. Durham Cultural Advisory Board (The Bullpen/James B. Duke Boardroom/Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative/215 Morris St., Suite 300)

3:30 p.m. Audit/Finance Committee of the Durham Housing Authority Board of Commissioners (Durham Housing Authority/330 E. Main Street)

5:30 p.m. Housing Appeals Board (Neighborhood Improvement Services Department/807 E. Main Street/3rd Floor Conference Room/Suite 2-300/Golden Belt Building)

5:30 p.m. Open Space Committee of the Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/Audit Services Area/1st Floor/Conference Room 1A)

5:45 p.m. Bond Committee of the Durham Open Space and Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

6:00 p.m. Durham City-County Appearance Commission (Urban Design Studio/City Hall/City-County Planning Department/Ground Floor)

7:00 p.m. Durham Open Space & Trails Commission (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

Thursday, May 18

1:00 p.m. City Council Work Session (City Hall/2nd Floor/Committee Room)

1:00 p.m. Raleigh-Durham Airport Authority Board of Directors (RDU Administrative Offices/1000 Trade Drive/RDU Airport, NC 27623)

1:00 p.m. Young Adult Resource Center Meeting of the Durham Homeless Services Advisory Committee (Independent Living Resources/411 Andrews Road, #230)

7:00 p.m. Affordable Housing Density Bonus Community Meeting (City Hall/1st Floor/Council Chambers)

7:00 p.m. Sister Cities of Durham, Inc. Board Meeting (Hibachi Grill/4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Boulevard)

Friday, May 19

No Meetings Scheduled

All meetings are held in City Hall, 101 City Hall Plaza, unless otherwise indicated. Additional meetings may be scheduled after this list is submitted for publication. Free parking is available during the Council Meeting in the Chapel Hill Street Parking Garage, located across Mangum from City Hall. Any citizen wishing to be heard on agenda matters should called the City Clerk’s Office at 919-560-4166 to place your name on the Speaker’s List.

To learn more about current City of Durham issues and upcoming events, watch CityLife on Time Warner Cable channel 8. CityLife airs Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Citizen input and questions are invited.