The Pizitz Building

800px-pizitz_store_1949

Pizitz was a family-owned chain of department stores founded in 1899 in Birmingham, Alabama by Louis Pizitz as the Louis Pizitz Dry Goods Company. It became one of the best-known names in local retailing until it was sold to McRae’s in 1986. At its peak there were 13 Pizitz stores in operation; nine in Birmingham, two in Huntsville, and one each in Florence, Tuscaloosa and Montgomery. Completed in 1925, The chain’s flagship store was located in the 7-story Pizitz building in Birmingham.

Pizitz was sold to John S. Jemison and Associates in 1959. That year the new owners announced a $1 million project to modernize and improve the interiors at the flagship Birmingham store. The firm of Ketchum and Sharp Architects of New York was commissioned to design interior layouts, with Lawrence Whitten of Birmingham as their associate responsible for construction documents. Among the changes were electrical and air-conditioning upgrades, all new decorative fixtures, improved retail layouts (especially on the main floor, first floor and third floor) and a new fourth-floor auditorium capable of hosting events for up to 700. A parking deck was added next to the downtown store in 1965, with a skywalk that took shoppers into the store next to the bakery.

In 1986, the chain was sold to McRae’s, though the Pizitz family retained ownership of many of the actual buildings. The flagship store was shuttered in 1988 while the other locations were converted to McRae’s. McRae’s was later sold to Belk, Inc. in 2005.

The building was purchased for $1.6 million in 2000 by Bayer Properties for potential redevelopment. It is currently undergoing renovations and will include apartments, 11,000-square-feet of office space and the “Food Hall” on the ground floor which will feature two full-service restaurants, an outdoor seating and entertainment area and an interior bar. The residential portion of the project is set to open in Fall 2016.

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

The Pizitz Building | Photo © 2012 Bullet, www.autopsyofarchitecture.com

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