Tag Archives: Design Review Committee

Design Review September 12

Here is this Wednesday’s agenda for the September 12 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.     Call to Order:  Minutes of the August 22, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name: Ervin Kennedy

Site Address: 827 19th Street, Ensley (Eastside Funeral Home)

District: Ensley

Requesting approval for: Window replacement and paint

III.       Name: Mr. David Brandt (Fravert Services)

Site Address: 417 20th Street, North, Viva Health (Old Regions building)

District:  Birmingham Green

Requesting approval for:  Signs

IV.       Name: Mr. Milton Wren

Site Address: 1230 32nd Street North

District: Norwood Local Historic

Requesting approval for: Fencing, Carport

V.        Name: Mr. Mark Williams (Reliable Signs)

Site Address: 517 22nd Street, South, Iron City Live

District: Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Sign

VI.       Name: Mr. Dayne Nelson (Sign and Graphics Inc.)

Site Address: 2170 Highland Avenue, South (Alamerica Bank)

District:  Five Points South

Requesting approval for:  Signage

VII.     Name: Mr. Jimmy Harvell (Larry Signs)

Site Address: 7737 1st Avenue, North (Quik Pawn Shop)

District:  East Lake

Requesting approval for:  Signage

Deactivating storefronts

Retail clothing becomes retail banking

This morning at Design Review Committee, approval was given for new awnings and signage at the historic Massey Building (corner Third Avenue North and Richard Arrington Blvd., ab0ve) for a new bank branch for Iberia Bank. While filling a vacant corner storefront is generally good, a bank branch is a lesser replacement for Remon’s, the longtime upscale men’s clothier. After decades downtown, Remon’s expanded to the suburban Summit shopping center a couple years ago and then quietly closed the downtown location shortly thereafter. The bank is lesser because the clothing store had regularly changing, high quality shop window displays. Lesser because good retail is few and far between downtown, while bank branches are ubiquitous. Lesser because, despite the decent new awnings and signage, this intersection loses a local business that made it feel special.

The gates are now closed

A similar situation has occurred across 3rd Avenue at the historic Title Building (above): a longtime coffee shop closed, and was replaced by a short-lived O’Carr’s restaurant franchise. When the restaurant closed, the place was converted into ordinary office space, signage was removed, blinds were drawn, and another hub of activity was eliminated from the intersection.

…and another bank branch

Speaking of ubiquitous, on the SE corner of the intersection we already have another bank:  First Commercial Bank‘s branch (above). The remaining corner is taken up by a large entrance lobby for the Concord Center which–while housing some of the best “lobby art” visible from a downtown street–is still an office building lobby. With the architectural prominence of the buildings on this intersection, and their massing which helps define the north-south corridor of Richard Arrington, it’s sad there are now no ground floor uses which engage the public in a more meaningful way. We have recently discussed how Mobile has a program to encourage retailers to come downtown; the state of this intersection illustrates how much our city needs one too.

Perhaps a new lease on life, yet again

Finally, now that the old “Ready in 2012” signage has come down from the much-anticipated, much-delayed Pizitz Building development, a smaller “Now Leasing” sign has appeared (above). We suspect this heralds a serious new effort by the developer to make this project happen, albeit perhaps in a different form than previously announced. Definitely stay tuned.

Design Review August 22

Here is this Wednesday’s agenda for the August 22 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.        Call to Order:  Minutes of the August 8, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name: Mr. Larry Depiano

Site Address: 3592 Altamont Road

District:  RedMountain Suburbs Local Historic

Requesting approval for: Enclosure of existing sun room; addition of shutters; painting; and front yard parking pads

III.       Name:  Dr. Israr Ahmed

Site Address:  3215 Cliff Road

District: Highland Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Enclosure of existing front porch and carport/porte-cochere; side porch renovations; replacing door overhang on carriage house

IV.       Name:  Mr. Peter Maynard

Site Address:  1210 33rd Street North

District: Norwood Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Window replacement, new porch floor, and painting

V.        Name:  Mr. Irwin Bros Remodeling Inc.

Site Address:  731 29th Street, South (Moes Original BBQ)

District:  Lakeview

Requesting approval for: Exterior Renovations

VI.       Name: Mr. Ross McCain (KPSGroup)

Site Address:  2025 3rd Avenue, North, Iberia Bank (old Remon’s location)

District: 21st Street

Requesting approval for:  awnings & signage

VII.     Name:  Mr. David L. Meador (Architect) Ms. Teri Bates (Pro-Sign Inc.)

Site Address: 9509 Parkway East (Taco Bell)

District:  Parkway East

Requesting approval for: Renovation and Signage

VIII.    Name: Mr. Dayne Nelson (Sign and Graphics Inc.)

Site Address: 2170 Highland Avenue, South (Alamerica Bank)

District:  Five Points South

Requesting approval for:  Signage

IX.       Name: Mr. David Brandt (Fravert Services)

Site Address: 805 St. Vincent’s Dr

District:  Lakeview

Requesting approval for: sign for NorthTower & NeuroSpineCenter.

Design Review August 8

Here is this Wednesday’s agenda for the August 8 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.         Call to Order:  Minutes of the July 25, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name:  Ms. Lissy Frese (Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds)              DELETED

Site Address:  1031 43rd Place South

District: Forest Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Demolition and New Construction

III.       Name:  Mr. Peter Maynard                                                                  DELETED

Site Address:  1210 33rd Street North

District: Norwood Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Window replacement, new porch floor, and painting

IV.       Name: Mr. Brad Johnson (Chick-fil-a)

Site Address: 1913 5th Avenue North

District: Birmingham Green

Requesting approval for:  Outdoor Café

V.        Name:   Mr. Ryan Meon

Site Address:  3901 10th Avenue South

District:  Forest Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Addition (partially screened deck) to Existing House

VI.       Name: Mr. Berry Hearn (Live Design Group)

Site Address: 2808 7th Avenue, South (297)

District:  Lakeview

Requesting approval for: Sign Standards

VII.     Name:  Mr. Hank Long (Henry Sprott Long & Associates)

Site Address:  937 42nd Street South

District:  Forest Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Demolition and New Construction

VIII.    Name:   Steve Looney

Site Address:  744 Lomb Avenue

District: Lomb Avenue

Requesting approval for: Sign

IX.       Name:  Ms. Linda Coleman

Site Address:  906 2nd Street

District:  Pratt

Requesting approval for:  Demolition

X.        Name:  Willie Oliver

Site Address:  116 Sheridan Road

District:  Pratt

Requesting approval for:  Door and window replacement

XI.       Name: Mr. Jeff Thomas (Barber Companies)

Site Address: 608 23rd Street South

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Paint

XII.     Name: Mr. Dayne Nelson (Sign and Graphics Inc.)

Site Address: 2170 Highland Avenue, South (Alamerica Bank)

District:  Five Points South

Requesting approval for:  Signage

Delivering the message (2)

At long last

At today’s Design Review Committee meeting, unanimous approval was given to a new branding concept for the “micro-neighborhood” of Second Avenue North between 25th Street and Richard Arrington Blvd (logo above, designed by Shannon Harris of Big Communications). After writing in this blog about the lack of good neighborhood branding in this City last year, your author teamed up with a group of local 2nd Avenue merchants, residents, and supporters to put together a plan for branding this burgeoning urban place. After much work, and neighborhood presentations to garner support, we now have a plan. And it’s exciting for several reasons.

Now I know where I am

First, good branding will reinforce this place’s identity for residents, merchants, and visitors. Easy-to-spot banner signage (above) coupled with a website (coming soon!), brochures, and other items will make 2nd Avenue simpler to find, navigate–and market to prospective new users. Awareness is raised, and visibility heightened.

That most urban of street furnishings

Second, it introduces fresh design to the public realm. Certain items in the public right-of-way (like benches in the lovely 2nd Avenue “butternut” hue, above) help cohere the street and extend the brand. Final locations will be determined–there will be enough for consistency, but not so much to overwhelm the eclectic, natural power of the street.

We need ’em

Third, we love bikes. Bike racks (above) identify the street (and by extension the greater neighborhood) as bike-friendly. Currently in front of Urban Standard alone, the one bike rack is often double-loaded, with others tied to whatever other pole may be available. Our bikes deserve more respect.

Most importantly, we hope this small 4-block effort will serve as a catalyst for a comprehensive branding program endorsed by the City. Nothing would be better than for 2nd Avenue to link logically with other branded neighborhoods. It’s high time we all agree that the current legal neighborhood structure–while important politically–is very different from the reality of how urban places emerge and develop (and often cross over legal boundaries). Most every other city has realized this distinction between political geography and the more complex fabric of urban places.

This is currently a total volunteer effort (graciously assisted by Operation New Birmingham). The next step is to raise funds (through donations, grants, and other sources) to determine the total scope of Phase One. More information will be coming soon. Until then, get ready 2nd Avenue: you’ve only seen the beginning.

 

Design Review July 11

Here is this Wednesday’s agenda for the July  11 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.          Call to Order:  Minutes of the June 27, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name:  Mr. Jason Robb (Standard Creative LLC Architecture)

Site Address: 4334 Clairmont Avenue

District: Forest Park Local Historic

 Requesting approval for:  Demolition of Existing Garage and Construction of New Garage

III.       Name:   Mr. Dayne Nelson (Signs & Graphics, Inc.)

Site Address:  401 37th Street South

District:  AvondalePark Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Signage

IV.       Name:   Mr. Ryan Meon

Site Address:  3901 10th Avenue South

District:  Forest Park Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Addition (partially screened deck) to Existing House

V.        Name: Mr. Robert Emerick (ONB)

Site Address: 2nd Avenue, North Commercial Revitalization District

District: 2nd Avenue, North

Requesting approval for: Intersections banners; benches; bike racks

VI.       Name: Mr. Ralph Sitz (Barber Companies)

Site Address: 500 28th Street South

District: Lakeview

Requesting approval for:  Paint

VII.     Name:   Mr. David Rawson (Gonzalez- Strength & Associates)

Site Address:  2006 Avenue I, Ensley (Dollar General)

District:  Ensley

Requesting approval for: New Construction

VIII.    Name: Mr. Cliff Atkins

Site Address: Avondale Bricks

District:  41st Street

Requesting approval for: Signage           

IX.       Name: Mr. Willie Oliver (Willie C. Oliver Architect)

Site Address: 116 Sheridan Road

District: Pratt

Requesting approval for: Door and window replacement

X.        Name:  Mr. Lance Black (Black Architecture)

Site Address: 725 29th Street South (Slice Pizza)

District:  Lakeview

Requesting approval for: Deck and railing alteration

XI.       Name:  Ms. Elise Youngblood and Mr. Cowgill

Site Address: 2011 Highland Avenue (Black Market Grill)

District:  5 Points South

Requesting approval for:  Awnings and sign

XII.     Name:  Mr. Robert Juneau

Site Address:  1318 20th Street South (Mad Doctor Game Shop)

District:  5 Points South

Requesting approval for: Signage 

XIII.    Name: Mr. Frank Taylor (ThePrinting Place)

Site Address: 130 41st Street South (Incubate Gallery)

District:  41st Street

Requesting approval for: Signage

XIV.    Name:  Mr. James Boozer (St. Vincent’s Hospital)

Site Address: 28th Street and 10th Avenue, South

District: Lakeview

Requesting approval for:  Demolition

Design review June 27

Here is this Wednesday’s agenda for the June  27 Design Review Committee meeting. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown.

I.       Call to Order:  Minutes of the June 13, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name: Mr. Cliff Atkins

Site Address: Avondale Bricks

District:  41st Street

Requesting approval for: Signage

III.       Name: Mr. Ralph Sitz (Barber Companies)

Site Address: 500 28th Street South

District: Lakeview

Requesting approval for:  Paint

IV.       Name:  Mr. Ralph Sitz (Barber Companies)

Site Address:  608 23rd Street South

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Paint

V.        Name: Mr. Scott Phillips

Site Address:  201 41st Street (Avondale Brewery)

District:  41st Street

Requesting approval for: Egress Stairs; sign

VI.       Name:  Ms. Tonya Allen and Mr. Marcus Taylor

Site Address: 420 Richard Arrington Blvd., South (Merienda Lounge)

District: Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Outdoor Cafe

VII.     Name: Mr. Scott Phillips

Site Address:  215 41st Street (Saw’s BBQ)

District:  41st Street

Requesting approval for: Signage

VIII.   Name: Mr. Lance Black (Black Design Architecture)

Site Address: 4006 5th Avenue South (Parkside)

District: 41st Street

Requesting approval for:  Commercial kitchen installation

IX.       Name: Mr. David Wininger (Wininger Law Firm)

Site Address: 517 21st Street

District: 21st Street

Requesting approval for: Mural

X.        Name:   Mr. David Rawson (Gonzalez- Strength & Associates)

Site Address:  2006 Avenue I, Ensley (Dollar General)

District:  Ensley

Requesting approval for: New Construction

[thanks to City of Birmingham for the agenda]

Downward pressure

Historic neighborhood meets outdated zoning

At yesterday’s City Council meeting a group of citizens from the historic neighborhood of Bush Hills in the west side of Birmingham gathered to protest the construction of a new service station and convenience store underway on a prominent corner in this mainly residential area (Graymont Avenue and 8th Avenue West, above). You can watch a video of the Council meeting here.

After one resident after another took the stand, councilors then replied that unfortunately this was out of the Council’s purview, as the site in question has been zoned B-1 for years, and this zoning allows a service station with no variance necessary. Thus, the developer of this property would encounter no neighborhood committees, boards of adjustment, etc.: she merely needs to submit plans to the planning department for approval, and they’re ready to go.

Not the new neighbor they were hoping for

Once again we have a situation where residents of an historic neighborhood (above, houses directly across Graymont Avenue from the site) object to the technically legal use of a prominent corner lot–the Five Points South Chick-Fil-A and Clairmont Avenue Walgreens projects come to mind. In each case grassroots efforts led by citizens helped convince the developers to redesign their projects using urban principles more in keeping with their contexts. Once again, the lack of neighborhood form-based code is making this a lot more complicated than it should be.

If we overlaid form-based code onto our existing zoning code, we could single out certain prominent intersections, or corners, to insist that any development’s form would need to be urban-friendly (i.e. buildings built out to sidewalks, certain percentage of storefront glass/entrances directly facing streets, parking areas hidden at the rear, etc.). It wouldn’t prohibit service stations, but it would require either an extremely creative design–or otherwise influence the developer to look for another less restrictive lot (located outside an historic residential neighborhood, and therefore more appropriate for a service station).

Part of the challenge

So far the City’s Highland Park neighborhood and Jefferson County (which covers unincorporated, and thus typically less dense, areas) have adopted form-based codes. Highland Park–with its wealthier, well-educated residential base–organized, paid for, and lobbied for the new code. As the above Bush Hills residence around the corner from the site demonstrates, this neighborhood has vastly fewer resources. The fear of the citizens yesterday was in part economic: already facing a downward spiral pressure on home values and multiplying vacancies, the introduction of a gas station could make the surroundings less desirable, augmenting that spiral. We’d love to see a solution to this continual problem, because the more we mismatch uses within our historic neighborhoods, the harder it is to convince residents to remain.

Happening, maybe

On another note, a reader pointed out that permits for demolition and a dumpster have arrived at the former First Federal Savings and Loan building on the corner of First Avenue North and Richard Arrington (above). We reported a year ago on the Design Review Committee giving conceptual approval to a mixed-use redevelopment in this modernist structure. Perhaps this is the beginning of that project, or it may be something else; it’s hard to tell.

Hard to figure

It’s illustrative to look at the publicly posted permits above; they tell us about demo permits and dumpsters, but not about what’s actually happening to the building.

A better way

Other cities treat construction projects not just as private developments (which they often are), but as contributors to the greater urban fabric. Above is what’s found on any building site in New York City, informing the public about the nature of the project, who the developer is, and who to call for more info. Yes, this takes resources to organize and implement. But it’s a worthy goal for any city to strive for. It educates the public; piques the interest of other developers; and increases the public trust. For the time being, we hope the dumpster is a sign of fresh life for this downtown corner.

Design review made easy

You asked for it, you got it: the agenda for next week’s June  13 Design Review Committee meeting. We will now do our best to post this in raw form for our readers whenever we receive it. Remember, the meetings are open to the public and take place at 7:30 AM at Auburn Urban Studio, 3rd Floor of Young and Vann Building, corner of 18th Street North and First Avenue downtown. Enjoy!

I.        Call to Order:  Minutes of the May 23, 2012 meeting.

II.        Name: Mr. Steve Reeves (SDR Studio)

Site Address: 1313 6th Avenue, North, Alabama Power

District:  Downtown Northwest

Requesting approval for: Storm shelters

III.       Name:  Mr. Steve Reeves (SDR Studio)

Site Address: 900 18th Street, North,Alabama Power

District: Cultural

Requesting approval for:  Storm shelters

IV.       Name: Mr. Lance Black (Black Design Architecture)

Site Address: 4006 5th Avenue South (Parkside)

District: 41st Street

Requesting approval for:  Commercial kitchen installation

 V.        Name:  Mr. Dan Aycock (Blair Remodeling)

Site Address:  718 39th Street South

District: AvondalePark Local Historic

Requesting approval for:  Vinyl/composite siding, vinyl soffits, new cornice, window installation, and painting

 VI.       Name: Ms. Kim Busby / Mr. Hal Word

Site Address:  2008 3rd Avenue, North (WattsBuilding)

District:  Birmingham Green

Requesting approval for: Storefront Repairs

VII.     Name:  Mr. Mike Gibson (Appleseed Workshop, LLC)

Site Address: 2033 Morris Avenue (Victoria Station)

District:Morris Avenue

Requesting approval for:  Office Renovation

VIII.    Name: Mr. David Brandt (Fravert Services) 

Site Address: Children’s Hospital Campus – 1600, 7th Avenue S (McWane), 6015th, Avenue, S (5th Ave. Deck), 1501 7th Avenue, S (7th Ave. Deck), 1600 5thAvenue S (Park Place South)

District:  Midtown

Requesting approval for:  Signage

 IX.       Name:  Ms. Lara Watson (Reliable Signs Services)

Site Address: 120 18th Street, South,Railroad Square

District: Midtown

Requesting approval for: Signage

[thanks to City of Birmingham for the agenda]

Progress, with caveats

Very, very conceptual still

At this morning’s Design Review Committee, perhaps the biggest news was what didn’t happen–a representative of the new Regions Field project appeared, but did not present any elevations or other design details of the new structure. Instead, he requested the Committee approve the remainder of demolition work necessary to prepare the four-square block area directly south of Railroad Park. After hearing that the two renderings shown at last week’s groundbreaking (above, and the other shown in previous post) were simply conceptual suggestions, done merely for the sake of the ceremony, the Committee approved the remainder of the demolition required. At the same time, the Committee asked developers to return as soon as possible with schematic design of the project. That could happen within a few weeks–stay tuned.

Better, but...

Also approved was a revised design for the proposed Family Dollar store in West End at the corner of Tuscaloosa Avenue, SW and 13th Street (site plan above). Since we last discussed this in January, the developer has moved the building to the corner, and pushed the parking to the rear of the site. Good. However, it is disappointing to see two massive curb cuts occuring at either street, when ironically a service alley exists already behind the store. It was equally disappointing to see the entrance will be on the side, accessed from the parking lot–and not on the street frontage.  This helps contribute to a dead elevation along Tuscaloosa which is almost completely mute in its blankness:

Not exactly an engaging composition

It’s wonderful that this neighborhood, so bereft of retail options, is getting a major investment. It’s a shame the design couldn’t have been pushed further to incorporate a few more basic urban design principles.

And Lakeview gets another option

Finally, FIVE restaurant was granted approval for facade and signage improvements at the historic building on 29th Street between 7th Avenue South and University Blvd in the Lakeview district. The former Golden Rule Bar-B-Q is getting a new row of French doors (under construction, above), among other improvements. Yet another sign of this neighborhood continuing to draw investment and energy–we wish them well and can’t wait to see the menu.

[Thanks to HKS and City of Birmingham for the Regions Field rendering; Boos Development Group for the Family Dollar drawings; and the FIVE team for the pic]