Urban Impact, Inc.
In 1980, Urban Impact, Inc. (UII) was founded with a mission which consisted of the following theme’s, preservation, redevelopment and economic development. The UII development district is defined as the "west side of 18th Street N to 15th Street N and north side of 2nd Avenue N to Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd. (8th Avenue N)”. The work of the agency would be executed through a series of public/private partnerships with the City of Birmingham and others, as a result much was accomplished. The greater 4th Avenue Business District (which includes the Civil Rights District) also includes the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame, The Colored Masonic Temple, Kelly Ingram Park, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and St. Paul United Methodist Church, the A.G. Gaston Motel, and a number of other district landmarks.
4th Ave. District
Urban Impact wanted to save and restore the remaining buildings — and save the memories of treasured places – before they were completely gone.
In April 1980, Urban Impact worked successfully to have the Fourth Avenue Business District nominated to the National Register of Historic Places. This designation brought with it tax incentives and investment advantages to businesses and building owners. With the assistance of Mayor Richard Arrington and the Birmingham City Council, Urban Impact created many programs to improve business opportunities for socially- and economically-disadvantaged business owners in the area.
These programs encouraged many of the black merchants – who were renting their buildings from the absentee landlords — to purchase their buildings outright. The programs and other incentives from the historic designation enabled the city and the merchants to completely renovate the inside and outside of Fourth Avenue buildings. Urban Impact also worked strategically with local media and the police to end illicit criminal activity along Fourth Avenue in the early ’80s. This activity had tarnished the district’s reputation, scared away customers and kept the area economically depressed. With newly refurbished buildings owned by the merchants themselves, and an end to distracting criminal activity, Urban Impact successfully helped revitalize the entire Fourth Avenue area.
Today, Birmingham’s Fourth Avenue Historic District is one of only a few remaining Black business districts that remains intact in the State of Alabama.