Ensley Mixed-Use Neighborhood

Birmingham AL | In Design 

This 10.38-acre plan sensitively reimagines the site of a closed, fire-damaged high school in Birmingham’s historic Ensley district as a vital community hub that offers much-needed affordable homes and neighborhood amenities.

Responsive to the needs and fabric of the surrounding area, the plan provides a mix of low-scale homes, reconnected roadways, new green spaces, a standalone Early Learning Center, and a 15,000sf grocery store—an adaptive reuse of the existing school gymnasium.

The plan restitches the isolated site into the surrounding neighborhood with vehicular and pedestrian connections and a system of pedestrian-first paths and open spaces. Parking is concentrated at convenient nodes.

The site plan places the highest density at the center with 3-story apartment buildings, then steps down toward the neighborhood edges lined with existing bungalows. Facing these edges, low-scale housing includes a new typology: Street-facing two-level stacked flats that share gardens with rear “carriage house” units—one home over covered parking. The carriage houses face onto “living alleys”—traffic-calmed walkable streets. This configuration lends the project an organic, incremental character.

The amenity-rich development will offer K-5 education; after-school programming; and services including financial literacy, wellness, and mobile health care. The project was granted rezoning approval in March 2021.