Construction work has begun at The Waites, a $16.5 million mixed-use development at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Richard Arrington Boulevard on Birmingham’s Southside. The 16,000 square feet of ground floor retail space is expected to open in the spring of 2017, and 45 apartment units to be built on the second through fourth floors will be available in May 2017.

As we recently reported, future tenants Farm Burger, Blaze Pizza and Smoothie King have been confirmed for retail space at the property. According to information from developer Retail Specialists, there is one space that is currently in the middle of letter of intent negotiations and at least one other that is still available for lease.

The Waites was formerly billed as a $13 million development called Central City when it was announced in 2015. Retail Specialists decided to change the name to pay homage to the building’s history as Waites Bakery. “It would be great if we could get a bakery to join The Waites as a new retail tenant to keep the continuity going,” said Rodney Barstein, executive vice president at Retail Specialists. He also said work is underway to restore as much of the original limestone as possible.

The surge of retailers for the new property shows just how far Birmingham has come in the retail world over the past five years. Just a few years ago, many retail projects faced on a uphill battle to score tenants. But things have changed, thanks to projects like Railroad Park, Regions Field and nearby mixed-use project 20 Midtown, which is bringing Publix to the city center. Those developments have more retailers signing on for the city center. But, The Waites is also one of several projects slated to bring multifamily residential units to Birmingham’s downtown/Southside submarket, which experts have said will meet the growing demand for in-town living.

Retail Specialists said the apartment units will have features often found in upscale hotels and apartments as well as the latest technology. “These apartments are perfect for visiting professors, researchers or anyone moving to Birmingham ahead of their family,” Mayor William Bell said, at the groundbreaking April 27. “We are excited to have this great development started in the city of Birmingham. We look forward to its start, completion and opening in the near future.”

Bell said it was the fourth groundbreaking he had attended on Wednesday, and that served as a testament to the city’s resurgence. Cooper Construction, Williams Blackstock Architects, and Schoel Engineering are working on the project. ServisFirst Bank is financing it. Golden Bell Capital provided financial assistance and Bhate Geosciences has provided due diligence testing and abatement. Brent Godwin is the commercial real estate reporter for the Birmingham Business Journal. Click here to follow him on Twitter.