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"Freedom Walk": A proposed development vision and theme for the Birmingham Civil Rights District

Freedom to be.

In January of 2017, 4.5 blocks of the Birmingham Civil Rights District and Bethel Baptist Church in Collegeville were proclaimed a National Park by the Obama Administration. Narratively focused on the events of 1963 - Project "C" and the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing" - a collection of sites form the "monument".

The AG Gaston Motel, renowned for hosting the strategic planning meetings for the Birmingham Campaign, is presently undergoing a $10 million restoration and redevelopment, scheduled to be completed by Q4 of 2021. The National Park Service will occupy the west wing of the motel and develop interpretive space around "Room 30".

First image: A rendering depicting street-level infill and retail development on present vacant lots. Second image: Streetscape improvements on 16th St. N between 5th Ave. N and 6th Ave. N. Third image: Infill, retail and tactical urbanism along the critical mass for the 4th Ave. N corridor. Fourth image: Proposed infrastructure to improve the pedestrian linkage between Parkside, the Innovation District and the Civil Rights District.

Other key sites include the Colored Masonic Temple, the AG Gaston Office Building, Kelly Ingram Park, Bethel Baptist Church, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute (BCRI), St. Paul United Methodist Church, Metropolitan AME Zion Church and 16th Street Baptist Church.

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument District (BCRNMD) is a subset of the larger Birmingham Civil Rights District (2006) and is a unique cultural asset to the city of Birmingham as a monument situated in the urban context of the city center.

The designation creates a platform of economic opportunity, by whichthe communities of Smithfield, Northside and Southside can access a higher quality of life and experience a unique sense of place.

Freedom Walk is our vision to link the Historic 4th Avenue Business District, Birmingham Civil Rights District and Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument District into one cohesive growth community where people can live, work, play, learn, shop and experience history.

Freedom Walk is not just a vision for how to capture the past, it is a base to build an equitable future. Birmingham can once again inspire the rest of the world with how it develops this district. More than renovated buildings, the best way to memorialize 1963 is to make certain development centers people, not projects.

We want to hear from you. We want to know what you think, what you would like to see and how you would like to help. Comment here and join us for a public engagement session, Thursday, November 14, 5:30 PM at the historic LR HALL Auditorium in the making of a living monument.

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