This morning at Design Review Committee, the new dual-branded hotel (Hilton Garden Inn and Home 2 Suites) along 2nd Avenue South between 17th and 18th Streets received approval for final materials (snapshot of rendered elevations above). This project, one block south of Railroad Park, will be the first hotel to rise in the Parkside neighborhood; the site is already cleared and construction should start soon. The materials are a combination of brick and stucco; the architect is Bradley, Schmidt & Carn from Dothan, AL. While the massing, color palette, and generic detailing are all scripted from Hilton’s playbook–with the result being a rather unmemorable composition–at least from an urban standpoint the facades come up to the sidewalk edges (with attractive landscaping by Birmingham’s Macknally Land Design) and the lobby lounges and cafes open to terraces facing the streets. The biggest disappointment is the large amount of surface parking in the rear which takes up half a city block–the City needs to do better creating shared, structured parking for the Parkside district so that each individual project isn’t forced to use valuable land for this purpose.
Also presented this morning was the long-awaited Homewood Suites hotel project (architect Richard Rauh above) which has already broken ground; it too was coming for final material approval. If you look closely at the image above, you’ll see a diagram on the screen of every piece of the historic ground floor facade (formerly Five Points Music Hall and Piggly Wiggly) documented for a meticulous replication. The original Art Deco facade was found close to collapse during demolition and could not be saved; the developer will now reproduce it. A synthetic stucco material was rejected by the Committee; the developer will return most likely with true limestone for this portion (the remainder of the eight story Art Deco-style building will be brick and stucco).
A few blocks away, as we’ve previously noted the historic Empire Building (above, First Avenue North looking east to 20th Street) is under massive renovation into a luxury boutique hotel under the Marriott Autograph brand; the new Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook a few miles south shares this branding. A more modest 3-star Marriott offering will abut the Empire in the former Alagasco building directly west. Campo Architects of New Orleans is the architect.
A peek into the Empire’s lobby (above) shows the original marble, staircase, and light fixtures that we hope are on their way to loving restoration. Whereas the Hilton hotels in Parkside are resolutely bland and generic, this one should be full of character and specific. And it’s exciting that Birmingham will have more 4-star lodging options.
Finally, as the Birmingham Business Journal reported earlier this week, the Redmont Hotel–at this point Birmingham’s grande dame having opened in 1925–will reopen next month as another 4-star hotel under Hilton’s Curio brand. We wish the Redmont, and these other hotels, much success as they increase City Center hotel options and–hopefully–provide us with some interesting new food and beverage choices.
Wishing everyone a happy holiday season whether in a hotel or at home, and we’ll be back in January!
[thanks to Bradley Schmidt & Carn for the Parkside renderings]
Good to have this report on the design review committee. Glad they held the line on a limestone base for the Five Points South hotel. On the Parkside hotel(s), since the structure is brought to the sidewalk along 2nd (a virtue, as you point out) I would imagine the south half of the block will be a future development site with structured parking. Doubt there would be much appetite for shared parking among developers.
It is really nice having you provide detailed DRC meeting information again! It was so lacking before your return.
Concerning the Empire/Marriott development, has there been any mention of the building that abuts the west end of the former Alagasco building? Is that part of the project?
Thanks Chuck. As you know, Weld does a good job of recounting the basic minutes of Design Review, but they don’t put the details into greater context (or edit out the less important ones). I don’t think the building directly west is part of the project but I’m not entirely sure.
Thanks Jeremy for the DRC meeting coverage.
Under current parking code requirements, would it even be possible for developers to “share” parking? Ex. If the Hilton Parkside developer had wanted to contract out the parking to the new parking deck next door, would that even be allowed by code or would there need to be a special variance given for this project?
Thanks for reading. As I understand it, the parcel is zoned B4 which means there is no parking requirement–it’s completely up to the developer (and, of course, any lenders involved with financing the project). That being said, Parkside is the perfect district to consider overlay zoning before much more development happens.