Riverchase is considered a masterpiece of community planning. Privately designed by Harbert-Equitable as a standalone town in the mid-1970’s, it was annexed into Hoover, and the design continues to pay dividends in quality of life nearly 50 years later. Harbert’s vision for the area will continue to thrive for generations.
This effort subsequently brought the Riverchase Galleria, which was a watershed moment in our city’s growth. Anyone who was around during its opening remembers watching the massive construction, the newscasts, the fairytale first visit, and the countless community events since. Trees, lights, an amazing fountain…shopping under an endless sky of glass… This was more than a “city center” or “downtown”. It was a world-class experience. It was Epcot at the end of our street!
Thus, the sheer magnitude of what the Galleria has meant to Hoover also means it hangs frozen in our collective mindset. For many of us, these brochures are plucked right from our memories (click the image to view each):
Now, in 2020, it’s hard to see or feel any of that magic. Terrible things are happening, and a meaningful response by mall ownership just isn’t coming. Simply saying the space is leased is not enough. It’s time for some straight talk on the future of the Galleria.
The city has done everything we can to signal readiness to partner on a new vision. However, this optimism can no longer be forced, and it’s time for Brookfield Properties, the current owners of the mall, to step up with something big.
Change is not impossible and other players on this field have survived and thrived brilliantly. The Hyatt-Regency (Wynfrey) brings many great events to the city and is an active participant in our business community. 3000 Riverchase (Galleria Tower) is doing some amazing and innovative things despite the mall’s troubles (more on that in a few days). From what I can see local mall management is doing the best it can with what they have. It is time for Brookfield, as the owner of the mall portion, to step up and match these efforts.
Because of its physical and symbolic prominence in Hoover, some may view the city government’s role as central. But that is not the case. Every square inch of the Riverchase Galleria is privately owned. The mall, the roads, the out-parcels. Everything. That makes the owners the central player in the future of the Galleria.
Any elected official who claims to have a plan for this much privately owned property is making promises they can’t keep. So I’m not going to do that.
What I can say is that there are three things that I can and will do as one of seven Council members:
I will be open to the ideas and vision that Brookfield may bring to the table. The window for this is closing, but it’s still open. Any 30 second Google search will show that Brookfield is exploring new ideas and innovating in other markets around the world. COVID, while a challenge, is providing opportunities to think differently in the face of great change.
I will be ready to support any actions our city needs to take to protect the health safety and welfare in the absence of a vision and plan. While we don’t have control of the facility, we have a responsibility to our citizens and visitors to our community. The time may come when we have to act in a unilateral manner.
Lastly, I will continue to support work by other developers who are bringing unique visions to other areas of the city. We cannot sustain our city forever on the visions of decades past. We must continue to look for new partners, new vision, and new ways of thinking.
One of the great things about serving as your Councilor is all the detail I see and the many positive things that are happening in our city . I can safely say that the future of Hoover continues to be bright! It is time for Galleria ownership to decide if it wants to be part of that bright future.