Construction underway on historic Thomas Jefferson Tower


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Developers have started construction on the historic Thomas Jefferson Tower (Leer Tower) in downtown Birmingham.

The $22 million project will convert the building into 96 apartments, with 7,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Reed Realty Advisors, which will serve as lead developmer, and Brian Beshara ofBeshara Investment Group, who will serve as managing partner, also plan to restore the large ornate ballroom, lobby and event space in the building.

“Downtown Birmingham’s occupancy rates are consistently near 100 percent,”Beshara said in a statement. “We think market demand for well-finished units with high-rise views of downtown will be strong. We hope that bringing such a uniquely significant historic building back to life will be one of those projects that can help create a vibrant center of gravity for the immediate area and even more demand for City Center living in Birmingham.”

In August 2013, the investors purchased the 20-story building for $1 million. Last January, the group received Design Review Committee approval for the plans for the 1631 Second Ave. N. property.

Built in 1929 as the Thomas Jefferson Hotel, the building has been the subject of redevelopment for a number of years. In a release by REV Birmingham this week, Mayor William Bell said the project will provide significant benefits for the public and private sectors.

“The Thomas Jefferson Tower will raise the bar for public and private improvement in the district and expand the downtown neighborhood,” Bell said.

The project is funded in part through historic tax credits and was one of the first projects to receive approval for the credits when the historic tax credit legislation was passed in 2013.