Pepper Place was started over 20 years ago in an abandoned warehouse district near Sloss Furnaces. Anchored by the Dr. Pepper Syrup Plant and Bottling Company, the area has been converted into an emerging, vibrant design and entertainment district in the urban core. Pepper Place currently houses Birmingham’s premier design center as well as a nationally recognized farmers market, Terrific New Theatre, along with numerous restaurants, shops, galleries, and businesses.
Pepper Place is the focal point of Lakeview, one of Birmingham’s Community Revitalization Districts that are subject to design review protection. The Lakeview District is anchored on its south side at 29th Street and Clairmont/University Boulevard which bisects the UAB campus just west of Lakeview and on which the St.Vincent’s Hospital’s campus fronts. Here, a nighttime dining and entertainment scene has emerged. The district’s north side is defined by Pepper Place, now a distinct submarket identified by its cluster of design, creative, engineering/construction and tech firms. Pepper Place is also home to one of the nation’s top farmers markets and is adjacent to Sloss Furnaces, a National Historic Landmark.
During the Depression in the early 1930’s, the blocks that now make up Pepper Place were established to recruit businesses to help diversify Birmingham’s iron-and-steel-based economy. Founded in 1871, the city had grown so quickly that it earned the nickname “The Magic City.” That magic disappeared during the Depression, to the extent that President Franklin D. Roosevelt singled it out in 1932 as “the hardest-hit town in the country”. By the 1970s, the Dr. Pepper facility and the surrounding area had become a largely abandoned warehouse district along the city’s primary rail corridor. Sloss Real Estate’s development of Pepper Place began in 1988 with the transformation of the former Dr. Pepper syrup plant into an art and design complex. Since its creation, the former factory has become home to art galleries, designer and photography studios, antiques and interior galleries, restaurants, a local theater company, a yoga and pilates studio and professional firms including architectural firms, magazine and publishing companies, software and IT management companies and advertising and public
Sloss Real Estate, longtime proponent of sustainability and preservation utilizes many environmental practices including capturing of rain water and a complex wide recycling program. It is in the process of unveiling a bike share program to its tenants.
Pepper Place has evolved over many years, working in partnership with the Lakeview Business Association, The City of Birmingham and REV Birmingham (formerly Operation New Birmingham) as well as the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies. It was developed originally using the Main Street Model and Smart Growth Principals, integrating events such the farmers market, Birmingham Fashion Week, and food truck rallies, just to name a few. Pepper Place has become a community gathering spot for the entire region. Pepper Place has emerged from the 2007 economic downturn with a new and exciting Master Plan, which is currently being implemented. Martin Biscuit Building is the first phase of that project.