A man with a vision
Just as BB’s China and Glassware, located in the former Blackwell Furniture Building at First Avenue North and 25th Street, has decided to close, local urbanite David Carrigan (above) has purchased the building and plans a sensitive, creative renovation. His business–William and Carrigan Stone–will move into a portion of the building, while a stone yard will be located across Morris avenue to the rear.
An otherwise forgotten corner about to come to life
As seen above (looking west on Morris with 25th Street in the foreground), the building has lots of old, warehouse-y character complete with arched openings, original steel frame windows, and a loading area. Carrigan has quite a bit of square feet to play with–and is currently considering potential mixed-uses. Bracketed by an abandoned freeway ramp to the east, and the railroad to the south, the property has lots of potential. The rooftop views are terrific.
I see a bright future
Inside, exposed brick walls, wood floors, timber columns and beams all hint at intriguing possibilities. There’s even a massive painted mural that, once cleaned, will be super-cool.
As Birmingham continues to struggle with limited financing available for private projects, it’s heartening to see a steady stream of small entrepreneurs like Carrigan continue to invest in the downtown core. We eagerly anticipate further news about this project.
It is time to make yourself heard. Public hearings are set for two controversial issues:
The City Council’s Economic Development Committee will discuss the proposal to sell the historic Fire Station No. 22 to Walgreen’s Drugstore on June 7 at 4 PM in the Council conference suite at City Hall. In related news, local developer and Highland Park resident David Carrigan has put together a counter-proposal that fully preserves and restores the Fire Station into a neighborhood gastropub. You can see the website here. (Full disclosure — the rendering below is by the writer of this blog)
Second, the Birmingham News reports today that a special panel–set up to hear Chick-Fil-A’s appeal after the unanimous decision of the Design Review Committee to deny their building a stand-alone restaurant and drive-through at the corner of 20th Street and Highland Avenue South in the heart of Five Points South–will hold public hearings June 16, 18, and 21. They will then rule on the matter within 7 days of the last hearing.
This is one particular situation where Form Based Code would be potentially very useful. While Chick-Fil-A argues that this is purely a zoning matter (and indeed drive-throughs and stand-alone restaurants are allowed by zoning on this property), the neighborhood and other advocates (including myself) argue that the Commercial Revitalization and Historic District organizing papers clearly state that new development should be in keeping with the character of the neighborhood. These papers are city ordinance, just like zoning. Instead of one lawyer arguing that an ordinance takes precedence over another, Form Based Code would settle the matter up front, telling any prospective developer that along certain streets, or within certain blocks, there can be no drive-through. Or no building less than a certain height. Or all parking must be hidden at the rear of the lot.
The process of putting together a Form Based Code is typically driven by neighborhood consensus. Highland Park is the first City neighborhood to adopt such a code–just a few weeks ago. In order to protect the urban assets we have, and enhance them with thoughtful, coordinated development, Five Points South and other neighborhoods should consider following Highland Park’s lead.
If you care about the urban environment in Birmingham, please plan to attend any or all of these important meetings.
Stay tuned for reports on the upcoming public hearings in both cases.