Can craft beer be a tool for urban renewal? Absolutely, says Fast Company in its profile of Avondale Brewing Company, which has played a key role in the revival of the Birmingham, Alabama neighborhood of the same name. Though it has long been associated with drugs and prostitution, Avondale now boasts 75% occupancy of its buildings, and the improved image has a lot to do with the work of brewing brothers Hunter and Coby Lake.

The owners of Avondale Brewing Co. began turning the ‘hood around four years ago. The first order of business was to assist the police department in curbing the undocumented crime keeping would-be entrepreneurs and their customers away.

Last October, they opened their craft brewery alongside the building they dedicated to an initiative they call Occupy Avondale—a recruitment effort to draw new businesses with the offer of six months of free rent. A local farm goods direct-trade website, Freshfully, was chosen among 55 applications to set up its first store.

Other newer additions to the Avondale landscape include a $3-million park, a barbecue joint, an art gallery, a pub, a sandwich shop, and an urban farming supply store.

[via Fast Co.Exist]