Just when we had our hands full with a proposed drive-through Chick-Fil-A in Five Points, along comes this punch in the jaw at Design Review this morning: the historic Fire Station No. 22, recently vacated, is on the table for demolition. It would be replaced with a Walgreen’s drugstore and parking lot. And a drive-through. On yet another important, gateway corner (Clairmont Avenue and 32nd Street).
Except this time the owner isn’t proposing tearing down a Ruby Tuesday’s built in the 1990s, but a wonderful Spanish-style fire station built in the 1920s. And the owner just happens to be the City of Birmingham, which is perhaps the most shocking part of this. Hasn’t this City learned enough about tearing down historic structures and what that does to a neighborhood fabric? And to a sense of place?
To their credit, the Design Review Committee refused to approve this conceptual site plan, and insisted Walgreen’s return with exterior elevations suitable for an urban environment, including pedestrian-friendly storefront and sidewalk entries (no exteriors were presented today). Alison Glascock, Highland Park neighborhood president, stood to commend the Committee for its stance.
City of Birmingham–you need to be actively seeking creative redevelopment of the historic fire station, not tearing down another piece of our history to replace with banal, suburban-style architecture! And if you need an architect to help figure that out, I know where to find one.
(thanks to Birmingham Firefighters Local 117 for the historic photo, and to LAI engineering for the Walgreen’s plan)
Not that there is one right way to go here, but I feel strongly about the historic structure and the accessible nature of its scale. Just a few pieces of eye candy to get the creative juices flowing here:
Let’s think outdoor seating — bridging Lakeview and Forest Park:
Love this restaurant concept in an old fire house in LA:
And this is just for fun but to live in a firehouse!!
(thanks to Engine Co. No. 28, insidetheperimeter, and designpublic for the above images)
UPDATE #2: BOGUE”S RESTAURANT TO BE DEMOLISHED UNDER THIS PLAN
The Walgreen’s plan would not just take out the neighboring service station, but also Bogue’s Restaurant, an historic fixture on Birmingham’s Southside for many decades.