Breweries making a difference

Avondale Brewing, in Birmingham, has already transformed its neighborhood. First they converted an old firehouse to become their brewery and taproom, and then they offered 6 months of free rent to a local business which would both complement and augment the local area, with the aim of recreating a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. No longer an abandoned, unwanted neighborhood, Avondale Brewing is drawing in young professionals and bringing back the people who left.

But Good People, fewer than 3 miles away, started the process in 2010 when they moved to their new premises not long before Railroad Park opened, part of a symbiotic process that’s changing downtown Birmingham. Running groups traverse the area before ending up at Good People’s taproom, while other people do the reverse. Either way, the downtown area is becoming well-used, with people around at all different times of day and in all different seasons. And once the ballpark opens, you can expect to see the mix of people changing even more as a formerly dead area becomes alive once more.

Back Forty Beer Co is sited in the heart of the historic Gadsden business district. In the less than 2 years they have been there, occupancy of Broad Street has increased to 93%, a phenomenal rate of occupancy for this main street, and symptomatic of the kind of regeneration that craft breweries can produce.

And even better, as each local brewery opens (Cahaba Brewing being the newest, and located almost exactly halfway between Good People and Avondale), the friendly areas expand. People start walking more, which encourages them to visit local stores and other businesses, or just to enjoy the newly renovated areas like Railroad Park and Avondale Park.

Slowly but surely, we’re taking back our communities from business districts which are deserted at night and on weekends, and bringing back family-friendly areas, stores and a growing sense of community. And most of it is thanks to the breweries.

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