The South Old Woodward reconstruction work
The South Old Woodward reconstruction project is expected to begin around the second week of May and is expected to be completed sometime in mid-October. It is the latest in a three-phase project to upgrade the city’s streetscape.
Previous projects occurred on Maple Road in downtown in 2020, as well as North Old Woodward from Brown Road to Willits in 2018. Phase three will extend the upgraded street and sidewalk design to Landon at the south end of the downtown. This will help connect the south end to the walkable streetscape that the rest of downtown enjoys.
The proposed design widens the sidewalks, adds planters for landscaping, and installs a median, making for 13-foot wide lanes in the street (Maple was redone with 11-foot wide lanes). This design slows traffic, improves accessibility for ADA compliant spaces, and makes the built environment more pedestrian friendly, reinforcing Birmingham’s motto as “A Walkable Community.”
However, this project goes much further than beautification. It addresses safety, accessibility, traffic, and replaces essential infrastructure. Segments of the underground water and sewer infrastructure in the area will be replaced.
The Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) recognizes the value of this project in terms of helping to make more of downtown a safe, walkable, and attractive area to shop, dine, and engage in other “lifestyle” activities. It will encourage the flow of pedestrian traffic to the south end of downtown, which is desirable for a downtown known for its shopping and dining options. We are already seeing a shift in the downtown’s center of gravity, as the Daxton and Restoration Hardware projects extend development southward.
However, the Birmingham Shopping District recognizes that construction projects, especially ones on this scale, come with short-term disruptions. The BSD seeks to mitigate these disruptions as much as possible with a number of coordinated programs. A south-bound lane will be open from Daines to Landon during the course of construction, so access to businesses will not be restricted (previous phases did not have an open lane through the construction area). Preserving some parking options during construction is a priority for the BSD. The BSD is working with private property owners to secure lots for public parking. Some limited on-street spots will be added on an ad-hoc basis where possible.
The BSD is also working on a number of initiatives to promote businesses with signage and incentives during the project. A texting service will also help provide downtown stakeholders with up-to-date information about time-sensitive news in order to help business owners and property owners navigate some of the challenges that may arise.
We at the BSD are looking forward to a refreshed streetscape with new amenities and are ready to assist businesses through the construction period.
Sean Kammer is the Executive Director of the Birmingham Shopping District.