Twice a month, the city of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee convenes at the Auburn Urban Studio to discuss plans to make alterations to structures that fall within one of the city’s many historic and commercial revitalization districts. This column summarizes recent DRC activity, with projects grouped by type and location. This edition of Design Review recaps the DRC meeting from March 9, 2016.
A previously approved façade renovation project (208 20th Street North) returned to the committee for revision. The original red color was not working and has been changed to a cream. Mahogany windows have been installed and will not be painted, and the accent color will be green. When removing the old façade, a balcony was discovered. This balcony will be restored and a black railing added. Based on the plans presented, the committee determined they needed more information. The committee members reminded everyone that changes must come back to the committee before they are completed.
The demolition of the old Junior League Building (1928 First Avenue North) returned to the committee after being tabled at the last meeting. The franchise commitment letter was presented as requested. The parking lot layout and landscape plan will return.
Status: Approved, four opposed
The Peanut Depot is moving into an existing warehouse (300 16th Street South). The existing roll up door will be changed out with standard storefront windows and the existing windows will be extended to ground level. A clear anodized aluminum will be used for the windows. This location will be used primarily as a warehouse, not a retail location. The building owners will return with a Master Signage Plan for the building.
The committee heard the demolition plans for the Waites Building (2101 Seventh Avenue South). The building has been vacant for some time and has been difficult to maintain with the roof leaks and other issues. Members of the committee began a discussion on the historic façade and their desire for it to remain intact. When asked how confident they were the façade would return, the reply was that they were very confident it will return in some form. The back parking lot will also be demolished in favor of a two story parking structure. The teardown will begin in April, construction in June, and they hope the project will open in June 2017. Concerns were expressed by committee members based on the presenter’s comment about the façade: “we’ll try to salvage the parts.” No studies have been done on the façade, but the presenter explained how they plan to carefully document what they find to determine the appropriate way to recreate it. The committee reminded them that replication is not the same as restoration.
Status: Approved, two against
19th Street North
The Master Signage Plan for One Federal Place (1819 Fifth Avenue North) was presented. All the committee’s previous concerns about the size of the sign and relation to the existing sign band were addressed. The signs will be mounted on the northeast and southeast corners of the building. The committee requested the Master Signage Plan to reflect future signage and its size and material.
The controversial sign atop the 2 North 20th Street building has been sold by Harbert Realty. The new owners, billboard company 84 Outdoor, presented plans for a new sign cover for the structure. UAB has now replaced Pepsi as the advertiser. There was discussion regarding whether this is a billboard, its grandfathered status, requirements of the committee and the commitments of the previous owner (i.e. that the rental income would pay for the restoration of the sign). They asked what the long-term intent was as well. The committee explained how they want input on the design as approval of design concepts is part of their responsibility.
The Rose Law Firm is moving to the old Medical Alumni Building (811 20th Street South). They presented a limestone monument sign to be placed to the right of the door. The sign will be in a plant bed. The committee was concerned they did not have enough information and also requested a plan view.
The forthcoming Bakers Row in the old Merita Bread building (60 14th Street / 1320 First Avenue South) presented changes to their Master Signage Plan. Plaque signs by the doors will be mounted on the existing pilasters. A sign will be added to the south elevation. They will return with the final plans for the façade. The site is 100 percent leased and the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama is moving their offices to Bakers Row.
Status: Approved, one recusal
A resident brought a newly completed construction project to the neighborhood and the committee for approval (3800 Sixth Avenue South). The Neighborhood Association retroactively approved the screening in of a back porch.
The Neighborhood Association recently approved a project to repair, repaint, and add storm windows to a local residence (1328 33rd Street North). All of the trim will be repainted and the storm windows will be added over the existing historic windows.
Plans for the demolition of an existing garage and the construction of a new one (2935 Carlisle Road) were presented to the committee. The Neighborhood Association approved the project at their previous meeting. The current detached garage is visible from the street and in a dilapidated condition. The new garage cannot be seen from the street. It will be constructed of brick and lap siding with a slate roof to match the house.