By Keysha Drexel
Vestavia Hills Mayor Alberto “Butch” Zaragoza recently unveiled a new video aimed at telling everyone about why the city is a great place to live and do business.
The mayor presented a video produced as part of a rebranding campaign for the city during his State of the City Address at Vestavia Country Club.
The video, produced by Tatum Designs in a partnership between the city and the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, was filmed in August, when an open casting call was held for residents–and their pets.
The video shows images from all around Vestavia Hills, from cute shots of dogs to sweeping shots of planned neighborhoods and shopping areas.
“We live with purpose, with pride and with passion for this beautiful place we call home–Vestavia Hills. A life above,” the narrator of the video says.
Zaragoza said he couldn’t agree more with the sentiment reflected in the video.
“It’s been enjoyable to watch the city grow, and we have a lot of exciting things in the works,” the mayor said. “You’d have to have been living under a rock to not have noticed them.”
Just a few of the improvements planned for the city are a new city hall and police station.
“It’s something we’ve needed for a very long time,” Zaragoza said. “We had two or three people working in one office, and it just hasn’t been a good environment. We’re not a small town anymore, and our city hall needs to reflect that.”
This summer the city broke ground on a new 57,000-square-foot City Hall Complex on Montgomery Highway.
The complex will include two buildings. One will serve as the main City Hall building while the second houses the city’s police and courts offices.
The current Vestavia Hills City Hall was built in the 1950s, Zaragoza said.
Zaragoza said the City Hall complex project is about three weeks ahead of schedule.
“We need to be in that building by September,” the mayor said. “The sooner we get in, the sooner Chick-fil-A can open.”
Chick-fil-A has purchased the current City Hall site at 513 Montgomery Highway.
The restaurant owners said the city can stay in the current City Hall until the new complex is complete, the mayor said.
“I was talking to (Mountain Brook Mayor) Terry Oden and (Mountain Brook City Manager) Sam Gaston about how they had to pack up and move while their new city hall was being built, and I’m grateful we will get to stay put until our new buildings are finished,” Zaragoza said.
Mountain Brook’s new $15.3 million municipal complex opened in 2013.
The new Vestavia Hills City Hall Complex is just the beginning of the changes coming to the city, Zaragoza said.
The city is also continuing work on a mixed-use retail village at Patchwork Farms. The approximate 87-acre area is between Cahaba River Road, Caldwell Mill Road, U.S. 280 and Interstate 459.
“The city bought that property as an investment back in 2007, and now we’re working with Daniel Corp., who bought all the property from us, to bring in several new things there,” Zaragoza said.
The mayor said plans are also in the works for the redevelopment of the city’s southern gateway near the intersection of Interstate 65 and U.S. 31.
“We just approved a plan last night to move forward with that project to plant some trees and flowers there and highlight Sibyl Temple a little better,” he said.
The city is working on expanding parking at the Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest, where circulation has tripled since the library opened in 2010, the mayor said.
“We only have 88 parking spaces at the library now, but we’re working to add 44 more,” Zaragoza said. “It may not be enough, and we’re looking at the possibility of providing shuttles to take people to the events at the library.”
Zaragoza said the new parking spaces at the library should be ready for patrons by the end of November.
The city is also working to keep the library’s LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification current. The Vestavia Hills Library in the Forest was the state’s first LEED gold-certified library.
Zaragoza talked about the city’s plans to revitalize Cahaba Heights and its plans to pave roads throughout the city.
Zaragoza said several new housing projects are in the works in the city and that city officials are working to make sure those home developers will help install sidewalks.
“I wish we had had the vision several years ago to require developers building in the city to also put in sidewalks,” he said. “Now, we’re having to play catch-up, but we’re making progress on building more sidewalks all over the city.”
The mayor said plans are also in the works to make improvements at Wald Park and to develop a community park at Sicard Hollow.