By Sarah Kuper
Bezshan Dolatabadi took ownership of the longtime Brookwood Village boutique Betsy Prince just a few months ago, but he already is moving on.
“Brookwood Village has been very good to us, but in looking at new spaces, (Lane Parke) was the only place that felt like home,” he said.
Betsy Prince will be one of the tenants of the Lane Parke development, which is under construction in Mountain Brook Village.
In addition to Dolatabadi’s boutique, the development will be the new home to a handful of other established Over the Mountain businesses.
A’mano art gallery and shop will be moving next door to the new Betsy Prince, and M&S Interiors will bring its showroom to Lane Parke as well. Western Market will gain several thousand square feet when it moves down the street.
John Evans is the owner of Lane Parke development company Evson Inc. The firm is a family business with a passion for preserving Mountain Brook’s heritage.
“Mountain Brook has been good to my family; my grandfather built the original apartments here more than 60 years ago. We want to maintain the quality for the citizens of Mountain Brook,” Evans said.
The Lane Parke development has been in the works since the early 2000s, but stalled planning and the recession took a toll on progress.
Evans said the slow movement is an indicator of quality construction.
“The city wanted us to construct it so it looked like it could have been built over 100 years. The look will be broken up with different roof lines and facades. But all that takes time and makes construction very expensive.”
Large components of Lane Parke are complete. The Grand Bohemian Hotel opened to great fanfare in October and the 270-unit Lane Parke apartment complex began leasing in early 2015.
The proximity of the high-end hotel is a draw for Dolatabadi.
“It will be the first time our store will have tourist traffic – people from out of town walking over to shop with us,” he said.
Local visitors will see familiar stores such as Betsy Prince and A’mano, but people will be drawn to several new-to-Birmingham restaurants and shops as well.
Yeah! Burger and CharBar No. 7 will have their first Alabama locations in Lane Parke, and Revelator Coffee will have a shop as well.
Evans said there is only one retail space that is not under lease, but it isn’t for lack of interest.
“We are trying to figure out what will be the best fit. This is a legacy project for my family. We want the quality of design and the quality of tenants to reflect Mountain Brook,” he said.
Birmingham’s Hoar Construction is managing the building, and local architecture firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood is handling the design.
Construction of the Lane Parke storefronts, landscaping, street curbs and sidewalks will be finished in April, weather permitting. But shops won’t be opening until late summer and early fall.
Dolatabadi said retailers will get the “keys” to their new spaces in April to begin their interior build-out.
“We are going for the same overall look but more curated. We are editing our collections, but we will still have our greatest emphasis on customer service,” he said.
Dolatabadi emphasized that Betsy Prince’s esteemed tailor “Chuck” will be making the move to Lane Parke as well.
In its new location, the ladies boutique will go by a new name – B. Prince.
With a new owner and a new location, Dolatabadi said this name change will symbolize a new era for the shop.
In its current location in Brookwood Village, Dolatabadi said Betsy Prince builds relationships, not just customers. He believes the same will be true in Lane Parke.
“People meet in our store and become friends. We will continue those relationships as we attract new customers.”
The current construction on Lane Parke Road is Phase I of the mixed-use development.
Phase II entails a complete demolition and overhaul of the Western Market shopping center. Construction isn’t slated to begin until 2019, when the lease for the Rite Aid is up.
Evans said he looks forward to when work on Phase I is complete and the public can see his family’s vision realized.
“The proof will be in the pudding. I want people to stand on the curb and say, ‘absolutely.'”
Dolatabadi hopes B. Prince will become an intricate part of Mountain Brook.
“This represents what we stand for. Our customer is not dictated by the masses, they have personal flair.”
Dolatabadi said he is already imagining the new space and planning his collections. He hopes to open the new B. Prince by July.