Twice a month, the city of Birmingham’s Design Review Committee convenes to discuss plans to make alterations to structures that fall within one of the city’s many historic and commercial revitalization districts. This column summarizes recent DRC activity, with projects grouped by type and location. This edition of Design Review recaps the DRC meeting from July 9, 2014.
Second Avenue North
REV Birmingham presented plans for new, custom-made, yellow planter benches to be situated along the Second Avenue North district. The local improvement committee approved the plans and the locations, which include planters near Gallery Lofts, Charm, Urban Standard, What’s on 2nd? and other locations. The plantings will be changed out three times a year and REV intends to get each bench “adopted” to fund the planting project.
Status: Approved, with one recusal.
12th Avenue North
Representatives of Trinity CME Church (12th Avenue North and Carraway Blvd.) returned to the committee to present the findings requested at the June 25 meeting. A letter from ALDOT stated they would not be widening 11th Avenue North, which would have impacted parking. However, ALDOT would not allow a curb cut for access to the property from Carraway Blvd. The committee requested a sidewalk be added to lead pedestrians to the church entrance. Signage and a landscape plan will return to the committee.
Status: Approved, with the addition of the sidewalk.
19th Street North
The owner of a commercial building in the Retail & Theatre District (1713 Third Avenue North) needs to remove the existing façade to mitigate some leakage problems and other issues currently affecting the building. The new storefront will include decorative metal elements, repointed brick and reparging the existing cement panels. The façade includes steel support beams, which, once they are uncovered, may or may not need to be replaced. The building currently serves three storefronts. The metal elements will be a gunmetal color and the owner proposed painting the steel channels to match depending on their condition. The committee had questions regarding brackets for the metal accents and the steel beam.
Status: Approved, with the brackets and steel elements to return to the committee.
The Wooster Lofts (2321 First Avenue North) project returned to the committee after addressing concerns that the new façade plan would look too modern and no longer match the character along First Avenue North. The architect and residents added a raised parapet detailed with limestone, projecting soldier course and corbelling, plus engaged columns. The design issues were settled at this meeting. However, new concerns about the structure being contributory to the local historic district were brought up. The Alabama Historic Commission had not been contacted, and with the new plans, the building may likely lose its historic status.
Status: Tabled, will vote via email when historic status concerns are addressed.
Representatives for Whiteboard It (205 20th Street North) and the Frank T. Nelson Building brought, as requested, a master signage plan to the committee for approval. In addition to the signage changes requested by the committee at the June 11 meeting, the managers of the building developed a plan. The committee wanted to be sure the new plan fits within the historic commission and Birmingham Green guidelines. With the approval of the signage plan, approval of the sign became moot.
Cultural District / Uptown
The final business is moving into the Uptown development. Bottle & Bone (2311-B Richard Arrington Jr. Boulevard North) is the new boutique store developed by Freshfully’s Jen Barnett. The signage presentation included a steel and cedar awning and individual, black channel letters. The letters will be backlit. The remaining exterior lighting will match the development’s existing design.
The Saint Barnabas Regional School (7901 First Avenue North) sign project returned to the committee. All requests of the committee were met by the school representatives and the signage company, including moving the sign location, landscaping plans and confirming the impact (if any) on the right of way.
Five Points West
The signage for the Arby’s to Captain D’s (2259 Bessemer Road) conversion plan was tabled at the July 25 meeting. The signage portion was presented again to the committee. The sign will be refaced with the readerboard remaining. The current guidelines for the area do not address readerboards, which was the committee’s main concern, but there is a precedent for this type of signage in the area.
Demolition at the new Iron City Lofts (2719 Fourth Avenue South) project is complete. The architects returned to the committee to present plans for the signage, landscaping and lighting for the building. There will be back-lit signs on the two corner towers and an additional sign on the awning above the main entrance. Landscaping will include evergreens and colorful, seasonal plantings. The committee expressed its preference for shade trees (Chinese Elm) along Fourth Avenue South in scale with the building. They were also concerned about concealing the main level, under-building parking. The exterior lighting will include general illumination lighting and no accent or decorative fixtures. The dumpster area in the rear of the building will be lit as well.
Status: Approved, with the landscaping changes.
The signage company contracted for Rozar’s, a paint supply store (3003 Sixth Avenue South), presented plans new signs on either side of the building as well as the front elevation. The front sign will be acrylic and illuminated. It was requested the sign be mounted at the front right of the building, above the new entrance. The committee did not want the sign covering the architectural details in the stonework of the building. After a discussion, the sign location was moved. For one of the side building signs, one crepe myrtle will need to be removed as well. If the new front signage location does not work, the project will return to the committee for approval of a new sign location.
Status: Approved, with new sign location and the restriction that only one crepe myrtle be removed.
Iberia Bank’s new location (1801 Fifth Avenue South) is currently under renovation and they have requested a temporary banner sign. The committee’s approval of the temporary signage included the restriction that the sign not be up for more than the allotted 90 days.
Status: Approved, one recusal.
Proposed updates to an Avondale residence (3418 Seventh Court South) include replacing siding with hardie plank and installing new doors. The owner stressed to the committee that the actual look of the house will not change. The local committee previously approved the project.
The owners of a Forest Park residence (4334 Clairmont Avenue) will be replacing the windows and a side door. Everything new will match the historic feel of the house. The new three-panel door and sidelights will also match. The local committee already approved the project.