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Birmingham City Councilor Marcus Lundy Questions Status of Enon Ridge Housing Development Project

At Monday’s Economic Development, Budget and Finance committee meeting, Frank Dominic, Executive Director of the Bethel Ensley Action Task Force (BEAT), spoke about the organization’s work in the Enon Ridge community.

Councilor Marcus Lundy questioned the timeliness of the project which has been in discussion since he took office in 2013. “The contract came before the council in May 2015, to build two houses, so we were excited that we had some movement — not what we had been promised by the Mayor but we had some movement,” Lundy said. “BEAT then proceeds to build one house in about 18 months, then the second house is still under construction.”

The initial contract, approved in 2015, totaled $300,000 for the two homes to be built.

According to Lundy, Dominic cited health issues on behalf of the builder as the reason for the delayed completion of the two homes. While he said that he understands health issues can arise suddenly, Lundy contends that there should have been someone to fill in during his absence. “Unless this builder is a sole practitioner he should have a team of people that can keep the project going,” Lundy said.

By his own estimate, Lundy said that, with weather permitting, it should take roughly four to six months to build a home of this scale. Two years after the first contract was approved, he said BEAT should have fully completed both homes, especially given the fact the council granted a second contract for 10 more houses to be built for an additional $1.5 million.

“They have a second contract for 10 houses that we approved a few months ago, but they’ve got to get a notice to proceed from the City so they can then go ahead and do land acquisition,” Lundy explained Monday evening. “So we don’t have the first piece of movement on the 10 houses and we’re delinquent on the two houses from May of 2015. Meanwhile, during that time we’ve built the Pizitz Building. We’ve built Elyton Hotel. We’ve built Top Golf and you’re telling me we can’t build a house – a three bedroom, two bathroom house and they’ve built Top Golf over here in uptown.”

Piggybacking off the discussion during Monday’s committee meeting, on Tuesday, Council President Johnathan Austin pointed out the home building projects that have been completed in Woodlawn during this same time period.

On how he would like to see the project move forward, Lundy brought up the possibility of re-bidding the second contract for the 10 houses.

“I would hope that we can take the second contract for 10 houses and re-bid it. Worst-case scenario BEAT comes in with a team of folks and the Mayor agrees that he’s going to fast-track whatever they’re doing,” Lundy said, adding similar concessions have been made before for other projects. “See, we’ve been lying to these folks for five years now that we’re going to build these houses. We haven’t seen these houses yet.. I plan to finish strong before I leave office. Our citizens deserve better than this. We can’t continue to advocate for mediocrity.”

This article is a contribution from Chiara Perry chiara.perry@birminghamal.gov and Cody Owens (coowens@birminghamal.gov) in the Birmingham City Council Public Information Office. For more information please contact 205.254.2294.