Fresh off the success of hosting The World Games, our city is thriving in business development, cultural amenities and award-winning culinary outposts, which makes being bullish on Birmingham a no-brainer.
And Evan Watts believes in Birmingham.
As one part of the D&A Companies design-and-build team behind the landmark Tramont project coming to the historic Redmont-Highland Park neighborhood, Watts has a vision for the next chapter of elevated residential living. Coupling sophisticated and timeless design elements with gracious turn-key living, the Tramont promises to be a coveted address. Once complete, the building will stand sentinel in the area, offering views of downtown and beyond, from light-filled interiors to expansive balconies, which will serve as complete outdoor living and entertaining spaces.
Every aspect of the property is underpinned by style and intentional design, with deliberate thought given to how future residents will engage with their home. Below-ground parking, climate-controlled storage, a heated lap pool, sun deck, yoga studio and a 24-hour concierge doorman (a first in Birmingham) all provide lifestyle, security and peace of mind to homeowners. In regards to design, Watts noted, “there will be a subtlety to the experience that will be felt, even if it is not tangible.” As one example, purposeful placement of floor-to-ceiling windows – as opposed to a simple glass-wrapped condo building – required thought as to the interior layout of each of the 28 units.
The top floor of the building features a panoramic, 4,500-square-foot penthouse, which is as accessible to live and entertain in as it is exclusive in its privacy. Expansive outdoor space adds an additional 4,300 square feet. The lower two levels of the Tramont will feature maisonettes, which offer ample space for entertaining, complete with walkout terraces but with ample interior privacy. “We're excited to bring this concept to Birmingham. It is literally a two-story townhome within the building,” said Watts.
The Tramont is scheduled for completion within the next 18 to 24 months; interested buyers may stop by the sales office adjacent to Vino in English Village to discover the vision and see additional renderings, as well as perused proposed fixtures and finishes available to customize.
While Watts and his team also develop properties in New York, the Magic City holds a special place for him, as he has strong family ties here. Working on this specific project affords him the opportunity to spend more time in Birmingham and reconnect with many of his favorite spots in town.
How Evan Watts Explores the Magic City
Dividing his time between New York City and Birmingham, Evan Watts has the luxury of enjoying the benefits of both big city life and Southern hospitality. We asked him for a few of his favorite Magic City hotspots.
How do you begin your day in Birmingham?
To start my day, I love feeling exhausted (but refreshed) after a 60-minute Orange Theory workout downtown or hitting the bags at Battle Republic in Homewood. A double espresso over ice with a splash of oat milk from Continental Bakery in English Village is a nice reward afterward. When Chez LuLu is open, I often linger for lunch, especially with guests from out of town. Both are conveniently located across the street from our Tramont sales gallery at Vino, where I find myself spending a lot of time these days. It’s not unusual for me to walk back over for two or three more coffee refills or pop down to Red Cat in Pepper Place. I am also obsessed with Bandit and the Essential on Morris Avenue—did I mention how many great food options we have here?
What does your downtime look like?
A run on Jemison or Vulcan Trail is pretty hard to beat when I’m in need of a good sweat. When it comes to dining and imbibing, Birmingham’s culinary scene continues to floor me. Some of my all-time favorite restaurants are here! I always find myself gravitating to Chez FonFon or the patio at Bottega – it’s the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail and dinner. My architectural eye can’t help but appreciate the rich history of the building. In fact, its masonry details, along with other buildings in the city, inspired and contributed to our timeless design at the Tramont. Often on the weekends, I run my dog, Juniper, down from Red Mountain and stop all along the parks gracing Highland Avenue. We love to throw balls at Caldwell park before looping back up to Key Circle. On a sunny afternoon, we love all the local breweries, like Trim Tab —and Juniper loves the abundant treats.
At night, I love dining at Automatic Seafood in Lakeview or having a great glass of wine at Golden Age in Mountain Brook Village. And for late night, I always enjoy listening to a set from local musicians at Mom’s Basement.
What are your favorite retail outlets in Birmingham?
The shopping in Birmingham is similar to the style of the city: understatedly elegant while chock-full of character and a sense of edge. Personally, I’ve become a big fan of Billy Reid for its timelessness, style and fit. Harrison’s in Mountain Brook Village is also my go-to for a great pair of slacks, and my wife has become a fan of Le Weekend since it opened in English Village a few months ago. Like many, we are obsessed with the weekend farmers market, especially Stone Hollow Farmstead, sold at their Farmstand location in Pepper Place, and their amazing jarred provisions—we chuckle when we see them sold in New York City.
When it comes to furniture and home accessories, Shoppe is one of my favorite places to peruse – it normally warrants a quick bite at Juniper, too — which are both in Forest Park. We’ve also become big fans of ALKMY in Crestline Village and Maison in Mountain Brook Village.
Considering the move downtown? Here's what to expect
Recent years have seen scads of former suburbanites buy downtown lofts and condominiums, exchanging time spent maintaining a lawn and garden for more artistic and leisurely pursuits. Many of these buyers are empty-nesters who now delight in walking to dinner, enjoying rooftop cocktails, e-biking to gallery openings and attending concerts. Two such couples who traded in Over-the-Mountain living for the vibrant downtown scene are Connie and Cecil Bostany and Sheri and Jimmy Krell.
What do you love about living downtown?
Sheri: We are city people and were looking to move downtown for a while, and we purchased our spot at the New Ideal about two years before it was built. We were looking for a diverse community where we could be involved in Birmingham.
What motivated you to move downtown?
Connie: All three of our kids went to Spain Park High School but now live on Southside in Birmingham. It became increasingly clear that they didn't want to drive all the way out to Greystone, and we were driving downtown just to do different functions probably at least three nights a week.
There is always something going on downtown – what kinds of things do you enjoy doing?
Sheri: We walk to Barons’ games, the theater at Sidewalk, the Lyric and Alabama, all the restaurants on 2nd Avenue, Squadron games, UAB football and basketball, USFL games and anything else going on in town.
Connie: We can roll out of bed and be at St. Elias Church in 10 minutes! We attended so many World Games events.
Cecil: We love having people over to watch the fireworks after Barons’ games from our rooftop balcony.
We hear there is a Downtowner Group, with lots of folks who have made the move to living downtown.
Connie: Yes! We meet at The Wine Loft each week, and they host us. You need to join us!
What do your kids think about you living downtown?
Connie: They love it. They want to know who's going to inherit this place!
Sheri: We have really enjoyed meeting people in the neighborhood and feel a part of the excitement going on downtown.