Street edge

Parking meets preservation

On a recent evening ramble through Southside, I snapped the above pic of a fairly recent redevelopment on the north side of 7th Avenue South between 23rd and 24th Streets. The building to the right has been renovated as a medical clinic; the building to the left has been renovated into parking.

Ideally, parking would have been hidden around the rear somewhere and a retail space provided on the street instead. Or take that a step further–even more ideally, that parking lot would disappear altogether, since our wonderful network of public transit, centralized shared garages, and dense city life would eliminate the need for individual lots like this.

Since we don’t yet live in an ideal world, a good first step is the preservation of the building facade, which is so important to maintaining a strong street “edge”. Streets are our most important public spaces, and the most satisfying streets are usually the ones that feel like places, defined by buildings lining sidewalks. You start to eliminate buildings, and the physical enclosure of the street breaks down, making it less desirable to walk down, and causing drivers to go even faster. Not to mention fewer opportunities for activity beyond the parking of cars.

So kudo’s to the developer here for preserving a nice old building–and the street edge. Maybe someday its use will no longer be necessary, and the shell will be there to wrap a more exciting tenant. At least for the moment it’s worth noting that SitTight, a service that checks/adjusts children’s car safety seats, operates out of this parking area as well (their website is down, though).

5 responses to “Street edge

  1. I wonder if the one on the right went through design review?

  2. Sorry- I meant the left.

  3. Yeah- I wish it were a business in there, but the fact the owner saved the facade and at least put an attractive metal gate across the front is something! I like to pretend 7th Avenue South becomes the link between Lakeview & UAB- so many beautiful buildings like Peck&Hills, the former Jaguar dealership and Hanna’s Antiques. When does Hope VI come to SouthTown? It would be nice to see businesses along 7th between 22nd and 25th Streets more geared towards SouthTown residents (like a Dollar Tree, Aldi & Mission Possible thrift store).
    I LOVE thrift stores, and that stretch of 7th could be more neighborhoody. 🙂

    • The string of Jaguar and antiques dealers along 7th was always an odd match with the housing project–it would be great to get new businesses on 7th–and a Hope VI or other mixed-use, mixed-income redevelopment of Southtown.

      Jeremy C. Erdreich, AIA, LEED AP Erdreich Architecture, PC 2332 Second Avenue North Birmingham, AL 35203 tel 205.322.1914 fax 205.322.1925 http://www.erdreicharchitecture.com

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