Established in 1908, the hospital was formerly a Level 1 Trauma Center. Financial setbacks eventually led to the closure of the facility in 2008. As the old Carraway Hospital sat vacant, weeds crept up outside the parameter. Graffiti appeared on the buildings. The old, tired medical center began to crumble from the inside.
Enter Corporate Realty and a plan for redevelopment. In 2020, the company worked with the City of Birmingham and the city council to get approval for rezoning the 50-acre site. In addition to the rezoning, the city council approved a $13 million incentive package for the property redevelopment.
According to local news reports in Birmingham, the developer plans to convert the former medical center site in north Birmingham into a multi-use development called The Star at Uptown. Corporate Realty selected the development name in reference to the iconic blue star sitting atop the hospital. The new development will include office, retail, entertainment, hotel, and multi-family residential space.
“Melissa goes in and separates the items into whatever we can sell,” Tommy says. “She salvages the copper, the lead, the electrical components; anything inside the building. She manages the process of getting it all out of the building, putting it on trucks, and shipping it out.”
Construction is second nature to Melissa. She’s been involved in the company for nearly 20 years but recently took a leadership position as a Superintendent.
“I have a crew from five up to 40,” Melissa says. “We go inside the building first and salvage non-ferrous metal, anything that a magnet doesn’t stick to – copper, brass, aluminum, stainless steel. We pull it out, we process it, and send it off. I came up with different ways of getting it out faster and more efficiently than before.
“I have it almost down to a science,” she continues. “Every little thing that we do, like how we remove the plates off the wall. That way the process goes faster. Time is money, and we’ve got to hurry up and get out so the heavy equipment can come in and start taking down the building.”
“This project is a million square feet of demolition and gutting of the old Carraway Methodist Medical Center for Commercial Realty,” Tommy says. “We’re tearing down about 650,000 square feet here – a complete teardown through the basement. We’re responsible for lowering the basements to 5 feet below grade. On the other 350,000 square feet, we’re gutting it out to the concrete structure.”
Tommy estimates that his company will work on the jobsite for nine months. While on-site, Tommy’s employees will recycle the concrete with a concrete grinder and the material will be used to refill the basements and the foundations.
An existing parking garage and at least one building on the property will be kept and renovated for future use.
As Britt Demolition and Recycling started the demolition project, the company assigned three Doosan crawler excavators to begin the teardown. Early in the project, the company operated Doosan DX350LC-5, DX380LL-5, and DX490LC-5 Excavators. Each machine was paired with a grapple attachment so the operator could grab parts of the building and tear it down.
In addition to the grapples, Britt Demolition and Recycling uses buckets, hammers, shears, concrete processors, and magnets to separate and process the demolition debris.
“We have all the different attachments to go on almost each and every machine, so they’re all usable,” Tommy says.
Tommy estimates that at this jobsite, 85 percent of the waste – mostly concrete and metal – will be recycled. The brick will be repurposed and all the steel will be recycled.
Tommy purchases his Doosan construction equipment from R&M Equipment in Birmingham.
“We never have any trouble with Doosan excavator booms breaking, no matter how much pressure we put on the machine,” Tommy says.
“It’s hard and dangerous work, and that’s why it’s not Britt and Sons,” Tommy says. “So if you love equipment, you like tearing down stuff and you’ve got $2 or $3 million, I guess you could start in this job now. But it’s not like it used to be. I don’t know how anybody could start a demolition business and turn it into what I’ve been blessed to be able to turn it into.”