Historic Birmingham Powell School poised for multimillion-dollar renovation into apartments

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BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The historic, fire-surviving Powell School property is very close to getting new life as a multimillion-dollar apartment project.

Atlanta’s Integral Group is in final negotiations to purchase the property and invest $3.5-$4.5 million converting the old school into 22-26 apartments.

Powell School, at 2329 Sixth Ave. North, was built in 1888 and is Birmingham’s oldest existing school building.

Sam Frazier, the Birmingham attorney who chairs the Birmingham Design Review Committee, revealed the deal at Wednesday’s committee meeting. He said the contract is now with city attorneys but all are confident an agreement will be reached soon.

Frazier and Michael Calvert, former president of Operation New Birmingham (nowREV Birmingham), have been serving as volunteers for the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation since a January 2011 fire caused substantial damage to the building and cost it its roof.

Frazier and Calvert worked with the Alabama Trust to have the roof replaced, the asbestos removed and other structural and cleanup improvements.

“The building is cleaner now than it was before the fire,” Frazier said. “It’s ready to go for development.”

The city gave control of the building and the 1.3 acres of property to the Alabama Trust in hopes of finding a developer able to save the building.

Calvert cautioned there are still hurdles that the city’s legal department and Integral must clear before a final deal is in place. Integral must still put together detailed plans and cost estimates after it purchases the property.

But Integral has been in talks for the property for more than a year and the company is committed to the area, already handling the management and leasing for Park Place, the mixed-income, Hope VI project next door. The Powell School, however, is destined to be market-rate apartments.