Former Merita Bakery next to Birmingham Railroad Park to become restaurant, office space

– Developers are aiming to transform the former Merita Bakery next to Birmingham Railroad Park into restaurants and office space.

LIV Development and Corporate Realty are partnering on the $5 million project to renovate the long-time bakery building at First Avenue South and 14th Street into an adaptive re-use project.

Plans call for around 13,200 square feet to be devoted to one or two

restaurant spaces on the First Avenue South side of the building. The northern half of the building is slated to become 15,700 square feet of office or studio space, including home to Corporate Realty’s new headquarters.

A metal building to the rear of the bakery will be renovated into a covered parking area with added access and improved appearance, such as adding plant-covered “green walls” on the 13th Street side of the building. A surface parking area once used to load trucks will also be part of the project.

Brian Wolfe, director of development at Corporate Realty, said they

approached the project looking to transform the existing building, not demolish it and build something new.

“Adaptive re-use is really the way we wanted to go,” he said. “This building can add to the character of the Railroad Park area.”

Some new industrial windows, some paint, streetscaping and landscaping are planned to help tie the property to the Parkside District, Wolfe said. KPS Group is architect. Murray Building Co. is the general contractor.

LIV Development partnered with Corporate Realty because LIV’s specialty is in multifamily projects, Matt Benak, director of operations and asset management at LIV, said.

“When we got this building, we were thinking of it as a multifamily site, but the building had such great bones that we thought some sort of adaptive re-use made more sense,” Benak said. “We had a relationship with Corporate Realty and their bread-and-butter is office and retail, so we brought them in.”

Robert Simon, president of Corporate Realty, pushed for the feasibility study that helped convince the city building a $64 million baseball park in the area could spur development of what is the Parkside District.

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