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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -
Plans could be in the works to restore a Birmingham eyesore. For decades the Thomas Jefferson tower was a popular hotel in downtown Birmingham; many famous people stayed there, but over the years the building fell into disrepair and the health department finally closed it down back in 1983.
Now a non-profit organization is looking to purchase the building and restore it back to what it once was.
"It has a lot of history attached to it so there's no reason to let it just fade away," said Matthew Sheets, founder of the Thomas Jefferson Tower Inc. "Bear Bryant actually kept a suite here on their very top floor for Alabama games where they were at Legion Field. Herbert Hoover, former President, Calvin Coolidge also a former President, several other people throughout the years. We don't even know how many actually stayed here."
Sheets is a programmer at UAB, but for the past year and half has had his sights on this building.
"Kind of fell in love with it slowly. It's one of the few icons Birmingham really has left," said Sheets.
He decided to start a non-profit organization and with enough support hopes to restore this tower back to what it once was.
"Our first thing as far as purchase would be to actually preserve the building. We want to go in and put ply wood over the windows, seal everything up. We can stop vagrants from getting in and causing more damage. At that point we will be able to really begin the process," said Sheets.
And Sheets has big plans for the property, including adding a yogurt shop, grocery store, and developing one of the finest hotels in Birmingham.
Right next door at Dirty Ash's we checked in with patrons there to see what they thought about Sheets' big plans.
"I remember it from the late 70's and it was quite spectacular then," said Alvin Johnson of Birmingham. "I think it would be great especially on this end of town. We don't have a hotel right now this far west in downtown."
It's going to be a huge undertaking, but one Sheets says he's ready for. "I've had a lot of experience in non-profits raising money, raising donations and I'm very confident we can actually succeed in making this dream happen," said Sheets.
The biggest thing right now is just raising the initial funds to purchase the building. They will be applying for grants as well as accepting donations. If you would like to help you can log onto their website at http://tjtower.com.