More foot traffic coming
The Paramount yogurt shop at the corner of 20th Street North and 2nd Avenue (above in an earlier incarnation) has started serving a full lunch menu in addition to their usual yogurt and sweets. Downtown needs more dining options across the spectrum, from lunch to dinner. We’re a lot better off than 10 years ago, but still have a long way to go.
A mix of high and low
A block down 2nd avenue at Richard Arrington Blvd. North, the former Tony’s Terrific hot dog stand (above) is being renovated into–according to the workmen–a new eating establishment, but we can’t confirm that. Many of us miss the hot dogs and chicken sandwiches that Tony Ippolito served here since 1980, following in a long tradition of (mainly Greek-American owned) hot dog stands that flourished around downtown. Today only a handful are left. Certainly the ornate Florentine Building deserves a new tenant so we’ll keep an eye out.
It’s either Subway, or Subway
Finally, over on Richard Arrington Blvd. North in the heart of the BJCC, the above scene was observed the other weekend: literally a line out the door of hungry lunch-goers dying to get into Subway sandwich shop. Why this overwhelming preference for Subway? It’s the only restaurant within easy walking distance of the convention halls (save those within the Sheraton Hotel itself, but none of those face the street or have a public presence whatsoever). This is part of the argument for the Entertainment District currently under construction, which would offer a variety of restaurants and other amenities adjacent to the convention area (although no leasing announcements have yet been made). As has been noted in these pages before, ideally the tenants would not just attract conventioneers, but also local residents and casual visitors: the mix needs to be right.
In the meantime, we hear rumors of more restaurateurs scouting for space downtown. We’re optimistic that the food (and foodie) landscape will expand considerably in the next few years, so hang tight.
[thanks to Birmingham Public Library for the Paramount photo]
A model for the future?
This morning at Design Review Committee the wayfinding proposal presented by Sheila Chaffin of UAB (above) was unanimously approved. Dozens of signs will direct people and traffic through the Medical District in a system coordinated between UAB, Children’s Hospital, VA Hospital, and Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. Complementing these will be UAB campus-specific signage–same style, but with the UAB logo on top rather than “Medical District.” MB3 Designworks of Virginia designed the signage, and local firm KPS Group coordinated placement and messaging.
We’ve commented several times on the urgent need for wayfinding in downtown Birmingham; hopefully this project will inspire the City to move that up their priority list. Because when we leave a well-marked Medical District, we still need to find our way around the rest of town.
Full renovation coming later
Approval was also granted for a neon-illuminated blade sign to be sited on the corner of 20th Street North and 2nd Avenue at the second-story level of the historic Roden Building. This sign, which is 8 feet tall and reads “PARAMOUNT” in a vertical format, is a temporary measure to advertise the Paramount store that opened last year and sells yogurt, sweets, and other items. Our office designed a complete exterior renovation (pictured above) for a future phase, including larger illuminated signage running horizontally that was previously approved by the Committee. In the meantime, it’s exciting to see this great old building coming back to life step by step.
Man with a plan
Finally, approval was also granted for construction of a new residence on Cliff Road in historic Forest Park (above architect Alex Krumdieck presents the rendering). It’s good to see continued investment in the historic residential neighborhoods surrounding downtown; a healthy downtown complements the neighborhoods, and healthy neighborhoods complement downtown. We need to support intelligent improvements in both to help build a city greater than the sum of its parts.
Happy Memorial Day everybody!
When a young girl's fancy turns to yogurt
We’d given a teaser in an earlier post about a new place coming downtown; we’d graciously allowed the News to, well, scoop the story here. We can now give you a progress report: Paramount, a new eatery with full-line yogurt options and other items, is underway and expects to be open a bit later this year, according to owners Angie and Kent Ingram. While others are handling the interior renovation, we’ve designed the exterior renovation of the former Parisian building, a rendering of which is above and an elevation of which is below:
Working on it
The illuminated “Paramount” sign is an homage to the original Parisian sign that some may remember existed on this building, as seen below ca. 1950:
Now that's some window shopping
Besides Paramount (named for a candy store which was originally part of the late 1930’s art-moderne renovation of this very old building), there is an additional storefront for lease just to the north along 20th St.
So get ready for another downtown option (or two!) real soon. We hope exterior work will commence soon as well.
Final Note: Congrats to Railroad Park for winning the People’s Choice First Prize for best new park in the USA in Daily Green‘s online contest. Fantastic national publicity for our city and our favorite new public space. Keep it coming.
[thanks to Birmingham Rewound for the Parisian pic]