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A new day
Historic 4th Ave. Business District Logo
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.
A rich legacy
UII Development District Map
Urban Impact wanted to save and restore the remaining buildings — and save the memories of treasured places – before they were completely gone. In February 1982, 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 indigenous 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.
A new opportunity
Courtesy of the National Park Service
Despite and downturn in the downtown market, today, Birmingham’s Fourth Avenue Historic District / Birmingham Civil Rights District is one of the only few remaining African-American business districts that remains commercial continuous and physically intact in the State of Alabama and in the Southeast United States. In 2016, Urban Impact rebooted its organizational mission, vision, and capacity to meet a new emerging market. In January of 2017, parts of the 4th Avenue Business District and Birmingham Civil Rights District were designated the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument.