Two vacant office buildings in Homewood may soon become living communities for disabled and LGBTQ seniors.

Farris Properties’ John Chapman presented plans to convert properties at 55 and 65 Bagby Drive in Homewood into a mixed-use development for seniors with intellectual or developmental disabilities and LGBTQ seniors at the City of Homewood’s Planning Commission meeting on September 5.

Farris Properties is a real estate development, investment and management firm specializing in residential properties. The firm already operates several apartment communities in Homewood and the broader Birmingham area.

The two properties are within walking distance of the Magic City Acceptance Academy (MCAA), a publicly-funded charter school designed to foster an “LGBTQ-affirming learning environment.”

According to Chapman’s remarks at the meeting, Birmingham AIDS Outreach (BAO), a parent organization of MCAA, is involved in the project. Farris helped develop the academy before it opened in 2021.

According to the Homewood Star, the Homewood City Council declared both properties nuisances in July 2022, violating the city’s “excessive growth” ordinance. A New York-based company under the name 5565 Bagby and Associates, LLC, owned and operated the property for around 20 years but never developed it. 

“Bagby has long been a blighted area,” Chapman said in the Planning Commission meeting. “We do feel like the [MCAA] that we redeveloped in 2021 certainly has changed things for the better on Bagby, and we believe strongly that the projects proposed will continue that change.”

Ferris now owns several of the properties surrounding Bagby Drive. 

The development would include 169 apartments and medical and counseling services.

BAO CEO Karen Musgrove told the commission that there would be interaction between the children at MCAA and the residents on Bagby Drive.

“We’ll have mentors from this space working with the kiddos at this school,” she explained. “And just the learning opportunities to go back and forth, for [multiple] generations to be together. I think it’s really special.”

The Planning Commission gave unanimous approval to the plans, which will now go to the Homewood City Council for approval. 

“This will be beyond just repurposing the original buildings,” Chapman said. “Our purpose here is to make these quite attractive and beautiful. Again, the users here are special. These folks, who have been marginalized their entire lives and are really seeking this type of residential deliverable, deserve something very nice, and that certainly is what we intend to deliver here.” 

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email or find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.