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Last updated 4:49AM ET
February 27, 2021
Critics Say New Building Hides Historic Alabama Capitol
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Alabama's pension system has reshaped downtown Montgomery with high-rise office buildings and luxury hotels. But critics say its latest project in front of the historic Capitol threatens to destroy a view that has been revered by everyone from Civil War soldiers to civil rights marchers.

The Retirement Systems of Alabama plans a modern 12-story office building one block in front of the Greek revival Capitol. Opponents say it will reach slightly higher than the Capitol's dome.

Mary Walton Upchurch, a landscape architect from Montgomery, says it's a "ghastly and grotesque contrast in style."

David Bronner, the chief executive of the Retirement Systems, says the pension fund has invested about $900 million in downtown Montgomery to keep it alive, not damage it.

"Without these buildings," says Bronner, "your downtown would have been dead 20 years ago."

Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, has joined state and local historic preservation groups in opposing the existing plan. In a letter to Gov. Bob Riley, Moe called for "a more moderate and sensitive plan" for the site.

Riley's Capitol office looks toward the building site. He has encouraged the two sides to talk, but also describes the proposed building as "very attractive."

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