There was one additional item added to last week’s Design Review Committee meeting agenda (you can click here to view the preview post). Despite this, the committee still only heard three items as representatives for the first one did not appear. The path forward involving the item — a parking lot — will go a long way toward defining how a major entry point into the city’s central business district looking in the short term.
The property in question is owned by Robert Crook and currently leased by Alabama Media Group (AMG)/AL.com. It sits on the southeast corner of 18th Street and 1st Avenue North — sitting catty-corner from the soon-to-be demolished BJCTA Central Station and a short walk from both Alabama Power’s Powell Avenue steam plant and Railroad Park.
The proposal presented called for a six-foot tall black chain link fence to be erected around the property, delineating the difference between the parking spaces contained within and a vacant lot directly to its east. Representatives for AMG told the committee the fence was needed to help deter people from cutting through the parking lot on their way to Railroad Park and the bus station. The current lack of a barrier along the 1st Avenue North and Morris Avenue edges of the lot had led to some vehicles being damaged. The fence would sit four feet inside of the property line and behind a Buford holly hedge already in existence along 18th Street and proposed to be extended along 1st Avenue North and Morris Avenue. The existing traffic pattern on the property would remain, with one way in off of 1st Avenue North and two exit gates along Morris Avenue.
Committee members had concerns about the height of the fence and the precedent it may set moving forward. They requested Crook and AMG consider whether a shorter fence, particularly one four-feet in height, would be more appropriate. They pointed out that 3′ of that fence would be blocked from view by the Buford holly hedges. They also asked if the applicant would consider the placement of trees along the property edge. The item was tabled pending conversations between the applicant, the tenant, and the architectural firm working on the project.
In other business, the committee approved the installation of a mural on the exterior wall of East 59; and they approved proposed changes to the exterior of the building that houses Unity of Birmingham in Highland Park.