Birmingham City Councilman: Downtown building was "eyesore" before fire

Birmingham firefighters hosing water on the massive fire at a downtown building on Friday. (

Birmingham City Councilman Johnathan Austin said the downtown building that was engulfed by flames on Friday before eventually being demolished was an "eyesore" in the city.

The former building was just one block away from Railroad Park and across the street from the Amtrak station. A few months ago, the owner of the building went before city council asking for a new permit after it sat vacant for quite some time.

"It was certainly not being maintained or even kept to the standards of just a vacant building it was beyond that point." Austin said.

Councilors denied the permit; Mayor William Bell says the city has contacted the owner about the security of the building in the past.

"We've been at the owner, and I don't want to call the owners name at this time to do something about the building that it was unsafe and unstable." Bell said.

Now, the city has plans to clean up what was burned and knocked down. Friday's fire now has the city wanting to make sure the legislature gives councilors authority to deal with abandoned and vacant homes that aren't so pleasant to see.

"There's bills in the legislature right now that would give us the ability to take control of the property faster without all the red tape and the barriers that are before us right now." Austin said.