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 June 22, 2016.
12th Avenue North
The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex requested permission to demolish a closed Church’s Chicken (2421 12th Ave N). The site will be converted to a parking lot in the future, but plans are not set for the lot yet. Once plans are finalized, the project will return to the committee. Normally, under these circumstances, the committee would require the site to be completely demolished and seeded with grass. The BJCC is required to return to the committee within 90 days to present the plans for the new parking lot, otherwise the entire site will need to be demolished and seeded.
Status: Approved, one recusal
The owner of the Side Bar (2929 Seventh Ave S) brought plans for a raised-deck sand volleyball court to the committee. They hope to host competitions in the future. One committee member brought up that the sign for the bar was not permitted before it was constructed. The sign will need to return to the committee before the court is addressed.
Status: Carried over.
Uptick Marketing has moved into the Terracon Building (110 12th St N). A Master Signage Plan was presented to the committee now that there is a second tenant in the building. The committee expressed concerns of the potential of additional future tenants. This will be added to the Master Signage Plan.
The second phase of the 20 Midtown project (320 20th St S) is progressing. Signage plans were presented to the committee. Three blade signs will be added, same as the first phase. There will also be an illuminated letter sign on the canopy and a celery graphic in the window. Parking signage and acrylic banners will also be implemented in the signage package.
The neighborhood association approved an eight-unit apartment building (3919 Third Ave S). The approval was given with conditions agreed to by the developer. This is an infill project and will retain the small Victorian structure on the property. The committee requested the removal of a porch with no interior access, to use 4:1 windows to look more historic, and to bring eaves lower to fit with the local character. The landscaping will aid in making the structure look more like individual homes. New street trees will be added and parking will be accessible from the alley. The apartments will be part of Alethia House.
Five Points South
Highland Manor (2040 Highland Ave S) will be undergoing an exterior and interior renovation. The owner received a grant to update the former hotel and apartment building. The exterior will be painted, new windows installed, and landscaping updated. A canopy will be installed for residents and a covered bus stop will be added by the street. The entrance area will get an update and be made Americans with Disabilities Act compliant. Plans include a dark gray color for the exterior and need to be submitted to staff.
Plans for conceptual approval of a new five-unit residential development on Morris Avenue (Lots 11-14, Block 107-F) were presented to the committee. The site is currently a vacant lot. The concept calls for two three-story units with garages and three two-story units. Each unit will have a fenced back yard surrounded by a cedar fence. Concerns were expressed about the cedar fence. The committee also asked for more details and had additional concerns about the curb cuts. Before construction can begin, the project must return to the committee.
A four-unit apartment building plan (2205 16th Ave S) was approved by the neighborhood association. The townhouse-style structure will have parking underneath screened by plants. Concrete panels will be used for the walls and floors and the interiors will include high-end finishes and fireplaces. The units will be placed in a step back pattern.