24/7 dining

Direct from the big easy

At Design Review Committee this morning, it was revealed that the long-delayed mixed-use project at the block along 7th avenue south between 28th and 29th streets, in the heart of the Lakeview District, is finally proceeding (construction financing is 100% in place and closes in 2 weeks, with work commencing 30 days afterwards). Reduced in size from earlier versions, the current plan is a 4-story building with apartments above, and retail below. A lead tenant has been signed, Huey’s 24/7 Diner, a chain based out of New Orleans that stays open all night, year-round.

That, of course, is great news and perhaps one sign that financing for development projects is finally becoming more available after a drought of several years.

Urbanizing Lakeview

[UPDATE: rendering of the project above, and link to Birmingham News article]

On a sadder note, the small but quaint building at the corner of 28th and 7th designated earlier as the site of a donut shop to complement this project, is now slated for demolition for additional surface parking. The committee objected to this aspect, and sent the designers (Live Design Group) back to revise their plan for this corner. If this neighborhood had a Smart Code in place, which stated up front that corner buildings must remain (or be replaced with other corner buildings, not surface parking), this same issue would not keep repeating itself, again and again.

Late-night burgers, here we come.

[thanks to iisonly for the Huey’s New Orleans pic and Live Design Group for the rendering]

23 responses to “24/7 dining

  1. Is it still called “29 Seven”? And did they mention the number of units? I think it has always been 4-stories, but the first version included 71 condos and 20,000 SF retail. Later they dropped it to 56 apartments.

  2. I did not see any title for the project, and the “29seven” website seems to have vanished, so I’m not sure. I was referring to the original concept which I believe was 7 or 8 stories, but you are right for years, with the current ownership group, it has been 4-stories. First a larger footprint for the 71 condos, then a smaller footprint for 56 rental apartments. That smaller footprint appears to be basically the one presented today, for the 56 apartments.

    • Thanks. I didn’t remember the 2004 proposal. Bhamwiki is updated: http://www.bhamwiki.com/w/29_Seven

      This is definitely good news for Lakeview (if not for Kelley’s Grill). And I agree with Newcomer, this should put some pressure on redevelopment proposals for the Davis Center.

      And maybe Plant Odyssey could turn that vacant storage lot into a showroom/arboretum and host garden parties there. Just speculating.

  3. This should be great news for the Lakeview and Highland Park areas as well as the Pepper Place development. I have often thought that it would be great if Pepper Place and the Lakeview entertainment district could be linked a little more strongly, but this empty lot (with its overgrown grass and shabby fence) really seemed to be a hindrance to that. Now if we can get someone to renovate the old school building on 29th into lofts, we will be well on our way.

    Even at 4 stories, this should (I say should since I have not seen the design) provide a more city-like feel to this area. Do you know if the design has the footprint begin right off the sidewalk, or will it be set further back? Also, do you know how many other retail spaces will be available?

    • Sorry I do not have a good image of the proposed project–it appears essentially similar to CityVille in it’s blocky, repetitive massing. It does bring a more “city-like” feel to the area; it is built up to the sidewalks with retail storefronts on the ground floor. Surface parking is located to the western side and along the rear of the property; my hope would be that this parking particularly on the western side could become another building in the future.

      It was not stated how many additional retail spaces would be available; my guess would be up to 3 others? Just a guess. Hopefully a website will be posted soon with more info.

      • BHamNewcomer

        That isn’t all bad – better than an empty lot, surely. I wonder who owns the lot across 29th St – it is also empty, but seems to be used for storage for the plant nursery on 6th Ave.

      • Definitely much better than an empty lot. Probably better than what was demolished to create that lot several years ago, which was several one-story detached buildings mainly set back from the street as I recall. As a side note the city’s only lesbian bar was one of the demolished buildings, and they never relocated…

        I believe George Barber owns that large lot across 29th Street–his company owns lots and lots of real estate like that in this neighborhood and others. It rarely gets redeveloped unfortunately; it would be great if his interests were focused downtown but they mainly aren’t.

    • Rendering just posted.

  4. Good to learn that the design review committee will require something to hold the corner. We should have a campaign throughout downtown and city center to get buildings, even small ones, on every corner. They mandated this for drive-in banks opposite One Federal Place and near UAB (now Wells Fargo branches) and it works well.

  5. we’ve got a lot of work to do above and beyond adopting a ‘smart code’ for the city. I think Highland Park proved that. Perhaps a better place to start would be getting people (esp. those who’ve been elected to an office) to understand why our existing zoning code is so bad.

    • Absolutely–a Smart Code would be the product of a process, of which education would be a large part. I have some ideas on that I hope to share soon. Thanks.

    • Churnock, I agree completely. A lot of convincing still needs to be done within the City and within the community. For such a big city with great urban areas…a bad, suburban zoning ordinance.
      The drive-thru banks are band-aids and the one across from One Federal Place is only slightly better than a parking lot. A pedestrian accessible ATM at the corner would have been nice there.

  6. NICE. This isn’t great architecture, but it looks like it will be good and urban, and that is enough.

    • This is a situation where we are indeed glad for the basic urban components–street retail, density, etc.–and the issues with the architecture itself are perhaps secondary.

      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

  7. Has anyone ever been to a Huey’s?

  8. Pingback: More good news for Birmingham - Alabama (AL) - City-Data Forum

  9. I am an officer for the Crestwood North neighborhood. How has SmartCode worked out for the Highland Park neighborhood? In conversation about other matters, resident architects have suggested that having a SmartCode may benefit the neighborhood.

    • You may ask “Churnock” who’s commented on this post, as he is involved with City Planning issues on an intimate level. Highland Park is perhaps a strange case, since there is little empty land there; the code is more about preserving what’s already there than guiding development of new construction. And, since we’ve had a huge real estate slump since the code was passed, it hasn’t been tested too often yet–although others may be able to comment more knowledgeably.

      Smart Code addresses urban form, which is in addition to urban use addressed by standard codes. So for instance in Lakeview, while standard code allows parking lots and buildings on that property, Smart Code would additionally say that parking lots must be only at the rear along alleys, that buildings must be a certain height or contain storefronts at the corners, etc. Smart Code has been developed as a template meant to be tailored to each communities priorities, but with the overall effect of creating walkable urban environments. Check out http://www.smartcodecentral.org/ for some more info. Thanks for your interest!

  10. Swell news, indeed! However, the design is banal, so much so that even I yearn for this development to be in a Tudor style (no Jeremy- I haven’t had a stroke) to match the surrounding structures. “Commercial Bungalow”, perhaps, like some of First Commercial Bank’s recent branches? At any rate this structure, with its height, having the footprint flush with the sidewalk and the overall massing are welcomed additions to this vital district. My fantasies envision the whole of 29th Street South being heavily redeveloped, creating a pleasant promenade from Clairmont all the way to the Wormhole (1st Avenue South behind Ferguson Lighting)… which would also mean a pedestrian link to the Railroad Park extension through there and Sloss Furnaces. You know, with a modicum of thoughtful redevelopment, this old burg could really be a swell place to live in.

    • Yes, it does not take much to envision the connections forming and suddenly a collection of disparate parts becomes a “place”. As to the architecture itself, it appears to be a slightly stripped down version of CityVille; while I don’t think it actually needs to match the Tudor or commercial bungalow styles across the street, there’s an eclectic rhythm and a richness which would be nice to emulate…if nothing else it’s clear the economy and shrunken budgets have taken their toll on this and other projects’ detailing.

  11. Touché. Actually, I think it looks more like UAB’s student housing on 14th Street South, which I think is a swell addition to that (hopefully) emerging corridor. What I find most appealing about Lakeview is the way it adjoins the best neighborhood in Alabama (my opinion) and bisects the “warehouse district” of 6th through 1st Avenues. One could make the argument that ANY new construction is desirable over the gaps currently extant. I just see so many of these new blocks all over the country that look identical. I yearn for developments like this in Lyon, France
    ( http://www.mymodernmet.com/profiles/blogs/modern-architecture-death-star-1 ), only with more contextualism, but also realize that’s too pie-in-the-sky, too.

    • University House you mention is another good example of the same type (by the same architects as CityVille)–mass market repetitive massing with stock, punched window openings; it’s not exactly winning any design awards. Would love for clients in this city to take more risks like your example from Lyons–what a fascinating building. I kind of love it!

  12. Pingback: More for Lakeview | Bhamarchitect's Blog

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