As you may know, one of our passions is giving new life to old buildings. The opportunity to acquire and refurbish a historic building in Downtown Homewood is extremely rare, and therefore even more appealing. Bryant Electric, a local family-owned business, served Homewood and its surrounding areas as a wholesale electrical equipment store and electrical contractor for over 80 years. The Bryant family passed their business down from generation to generation at its home base, 2852 18th Street South on the main stretch in downtown Homewood. Before Bryant Electric the building housed a Feed and Seed store, pictured above. You can tell from the photo that it was one of the earliest commercial buildings on the block.
Although we often focus on downtown Birmingham, we see downtown Homewood as an ideal area to acquire commercial real estate. There are dense residential neighborhoods, numerous office buildings along Highway 31, and close proximity to some of the best Hospitals in town. The main stretch of downtown Homewood features scores of retail boutiques that attract shoppers far and wide.
SW purchased the Bryant Electric building in winter of 2011. When analyzing redevelopment options, the quickest and cheapest route was to continue the drop ceiling and just to repair and patch the mortar walls and put in new carpet. Once you’ve experienced the joy of renovating an old building back to its’ former glory, the quickest and cheapest option is never the best option for the future tenant or the community. We were cautious in removing the existing ceiling system to expose the original beams and wood decking, and to remove several layers of plaster to expose the beautiful masonry walls. The tricky part was taking up several layers of old tiles that had been glued to the original pine floors. The result of this careful craftsmanship is a charming shop filled with life and character.
Soon after the acquisition, we quickly found a tenant who has occupied the space ever since. Festivity, a woman’s boutique specializing in clothing, accessories, jewelry & gifts, occupies the historic building today. The store is marketed as a “fashion-forward lifestyle boutique,” a retail concept that has proven itself successful in the Homewood market. Festivity has eight stores throughout the Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham and Columbia areas, many of which are in historic buildings.
We endearingly refer to the building as Bryant 1925 to pay homage to its former glory.