Talking About Safety in Birmingham: 'Nightclubs Aren't Appropriate,' Landlord Ted Fuller Says
Separately, realtor cites possible future 'concern in attracting buyers' due to negative news.
This story is part of a series on downtown Birmingham that explores issues raised by recent incidents, as well as the city's response to them.
Views of downtown safety can depend on who's asked — resident or retailer, club owner or commissioner, retiree or young professional. This installment of a Patch series on downtown safety includes a business leader standing in two camps: as a commercial landlord and downtown resident.
Ted Fuller, who manages one million square feet of rental property he owns in 21 buildings in Birmingham, lives on Pierce Street with his wife, Dulcie. His office at Fuller Central Park Properties is a few blocks away in the Shain Townhouses on Peabody Street.
Fuller is fired up about several police incidents downtown and met separately with City Manager Bob Bruner, Police Chief Don Studt and most city commissioners about what he calls "inappropriate behavior at 2 o'clock in the morning in a residential community."
He's among those contacted for a sense of community sentiments about a series of scares:
- Two shots fired April 1 by a patron who had left South Bar.
- Fights inside The Hamilton Room that night and outside Chen Chow Brasserie a night earlier.
- A credit card theft April 8 at The Corner Bar, followed by a cab driver assault by the same suspect.
- The arrest of a teen with a loaded rifle on Merrill Street on April 13, a crowded Friday night.
Patch asked dozens of people in Birmingham to contribute to this weeklong series on public safety. In her response below, realtor Cathy Tishhouse questions a new police order barring valet parking service after midnight, which she feels could jeopardize "the people not causing problems."
Ted Fuller: 'Take their mischief someplace else'
Fuller, interviewed Monday, is Birmingham's largest commercial landlord. Among his properties are the Birmingham 8, the McCann Erickson office block, the Wells Fargo building on East Brown as well as residential sites downtown.
We've got to focus on the problems at hand and the one that's most serious is certainly South. They have not shown themselves to be good corporate citizens. They don't appear to want to change their position on what they're doing. They don't seem to care.
They came to the city as a Mexican restaurant with a sports bar, and that's what I understand was approved. Now maybe that wasn't working for them and it morphed into a nightclub.
Well, nightclubs aren't appropriate for downtown Birmingham. I don't think they fit with the fabric of our community.
If these venues continue to bring problems to the community, they should be asked to take their mischief someplace else. They might be welcomed in other communities, but here this doesn't fit with a residential community like we are.
It's not just alcohol that's the problem — it's the nature of the business that they conduct. We have a lot of new bistros in town and they don't represent any problem whatsoever to the community while providing a service to our residents.
I think competition is great, but nightclubs just don't fit in my opinion. I know they've made a large investment, but that's no reason to be a lousy corporate citizen. That doesn't give them any special rights.
Their significant investment in the community was made under the assumption that it was going to be a restaurant and a sports bar. And this is not a sports bar. They need to change or move out, move on. Take the mischief and go someplace else.
What you have many fights, stabbings and shootings in your community I think it affects the image of our town. If it were to escalate, the damage that could be done to the charm of Birmingham could take generations to fix.
We do have a reputation of being a great, walkable, small community and we don’t want to lose that. We need to promote activities that are conducive to that type of family atmosphere.
The community needs to get involved and express opinions on this.
Cathy Tishhouse: Incidents 'could affect property values'
Tishhouse, a lifelong Michiganian, has been a realtor with Re/Max Showcase Homes in Birmingham since 2004.
Recent incidents at (three) local nightspots could affect the appeal of living in Birmingham if (the situation) were to escalate. It could become a bigger concern in attracting buyers, and could affect property values.
As it is now, I don't think that is the case. We're also seeing news about an increase in some incidents in Royal Oak that are worrisome.
While I don’t have a solution, I don’t think closing valet (parking) at earlier hours will make a significant difference. I don’t think the clientele causing these disturbances would be deterred because of lack of valet service.
I would be more comfortable staying just inside a restaurant/lounge and having someone retrieve my car rather than roaming the streets to find it – especially if I felt things were rowdy that night or if I were familiar with the recent incidents. Valet is valuable for the people not causing problems.
About the Series
Residents, business owners and visitors to Birmingham have an interest in feeling safe in the city. This Patch series explores the voices of those who live, work and run the city of Birmingham. We hope it fosters a dialogue that illustrates issues and explores possible solutions.
- Talking About Safety in Birmingham: Residents React to Downtown Incidents
- Letter to the Editor: Educator 'Concerned That Birmingham is Becoming More of a Destination'
A dialogue cannot be one-sided. Please add your thoughts below or contact editor Laura Houser at email@example.com, or call her at 248-534-9780, if you would like to contribute to this series.