Lawyer plans massive mixed-use project on Third Avenue North


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Local attorney Eric Guster is buying the former Red Cross building on Third Avenue North with plans to redevelop it into a mixed-use building that will include restaurant, retail, office and residential space.

Guster plans to renovate the 140,000-square-foot building at the corner of Third Avenue North and 23rd Street North, which has been vacant since the Red Cross moved out of it several years ago. He said it will be the new headquarters for Guster Law Firm, and other tenants will be able to lease additional office space at the property, which is located at at 2225 Third Ave. N.

“I am so excited about this project. This building is the eastern anchor of the city, and I see it as being a beacon of light on this side,” Guster said.

While much of downtown’s revitalization has been concentrated in Parkside and the areas near the theater district, Guster’s project would provide a huge boost to the northeastern portion of the city center.

Guster, who lives in the area, said he sees the project as being attractive to millennials and others who frequent the restaurants and bars a block away on Second Avenue North – an area that is fast-becoming one of Birmingham’s most popular areas for nightlife.

Guster, who started his firm in 2002, said his staff has grown significantly, and he didn’t want to ever run out of office space again. Last summer, Guster sold his former building at 2223 Fourth Ave. N to Infinity Property & Casualty Corp. (NYSE: IPCC).

As previously reported, Infinity is moving its headquarters to the nearby 120,000-square-foot former Birmingham News building. Infinity hasn’t confirmed plans for Guster’s former building.

Preliminary plans for the five-floor former Red Cross building include glass walls and exposed brick inside. Guster said he wants to incorporate “as much natural light as possible.”

Guster said he should close on the property in the next 30 days. He said the first phase of the project, which should include restaurant and office space, could be finished by fall 2016.

Guster appears regularly as a legal expert on networks Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. He said every chance he gets he mentions that he’s based in Birmingham.

“I grew up here and I love my city,” Guster said. “This will be a great project for Birmingham.”