City of Birmingham set to buy Ensley High School

Updated: May. 29, 2019 at 10:24 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The city of Birmingham has plans for the Ensley community.

“Engage in a comprehensive redevelopment strategy in Ensley that involves commercial, industrial, retail, and residential development,” says Josh Carpenter.

It begins with the city purchasing Ensley High School, which burned down last July.

“At one time, Ensley was one of the biggest economies in the city. The biggest micro-economy. And so for us really focusing our attention on Ensley is something that we’ve been deliberate about since we had the bold grant," says Carpenter.

The fire destroyed much of the building. It spoiled plans for the alumni association wanting to hold their reunion on the grounds.

We met Demetrius Carr the day it burned down, expressing his love for the place.

“Heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking. I’ve seen people crying today because it’s devastating,” said Carr.

Right now, the plot is zoned for mixed-use residential and it’s in an opportunity zone. Their goal is to revitalize that whole area. And they’ve changed the way they look at requests for proposals--focusing more on what developers want to do instead of the highest bidder. They promise the new process will be more transparent.

“Ideally, we’ll have the community alongside with us to help us navigate the steps that we need to take,” says Carpenter.

The city council is set to vote on the $50,000 purchase next Tuesday to make it official. Carpenter says they could see anything from an extension to the senior center to restaurants or a grocery store. They’re not sure about a timeline just yet.

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