Category Archives: 35203

Design Review Committee disapproves replacement “Sign”

03092016 2NorthTwentiethWednesday morning, the Birmingham Design Review Committee voted 7-0 to disapprove the installation of two static vinyl signs over the electronic sign atop Two North Twentieth. Committee chair Sam Frazier recused himself from the case and the vote. The sign had been a late addition to the committee’s March 9 agenda and held over to give them an opportunity to review the proposal.

Prior to this morning’s vote, the issue of what constituted an alteration to the message board originally installed in 1971 in honor of the city’s centennial appeared to be front and center.

Chervis Isom, representing the John Hand Condo Owners Association, suggested the vinyl signs advertising Pepsi placed over the structure more than two years ago was “a major alteration to the original, non-conforming sign.”

“What they did was radically change the character of the sign. They changed it from a message board to a billboard with a static sign,” said Isom.

“There were messages of public service all day long, and it didn’t operate at night. This thing has spotlights on it. That’s a major alteration as far as I’m concerned,” he continued.

Several committee members asked for clarification as to what constitutes an alteration. There was also a suggestion a plan be submitted outlining how and when the sign would be restored.

Richard Mauk, serving as committee chair for the case, asked Alton Parker of Spain & Gillion if exterior lights were added to the existing structure in order to accommodate the installation of the Pepsi signs. Parker said he could not say when they were added. Mauk later asked if there were any plans to restore the sign to its original usage (as was the understanding when the previous proposal was originally presented by its then owner, Harbert Realty). Parker and 84 Outdoor general counsel Cheri Bomar informed the committee there were no plans to restore the sign.

UAB has contracted to pay $300,000 to design and install a double-sided sign for a period of one year with the option to extend the lease period.

The motion for disapproval on the grounds a static billboard “is an inappropriate solution to a historic sign.” was made by committee member Don Cosper after a 15-minute executive session with Jim Stanley from the city’s legal department.

There is no word as to whether or not any additional legal action will take place. The cease and desist originally sent to 84 Outdoor is said to still be in effect.

A future for “The Sign” begins to take shape

03092016 2NorthTwentiethThis morning, the Birmingham Design Review Committee got its first look at a proposed replacement for what’s come to be known around the city as “The Pepsi Sign.” Representatives from 84 Outdoor and Cayenne Creative presented a working design to committee members at the end of the meeting.

City officials reached out to 84 Outdoor by letter (of the cease and desist variety) after learning about the plans to replace the existing vinyl signs covering the electric scrolling installation atop Two North Twentieth via a story published on March 2 by They met with them on Tuesday and subsequently added them to this morning’s agenda to give the committee a chance to offer input on its design.

It has been just over two years since the advertisement was first installed. (We have a recap of previous reports about appearances by “The Sign” on the Design Review agenda available on Dear Birmingham.) A follow-up report by’s Kelly Poe said UAB will be paying $300,000 for a one-year lease of the two-sided sign.

James Stanley, an attorney with the City of Birmingham, informed committee members the sign is considered a non-conforming billboard for zoning purposes. Based on this designation, the new owner does not have to seek approval of any replacement of the advertising on the sign so long as the sign is not expanded in size and there was no need to replace its structure. 84 Outdoor can choose (as it did) to bring those proposed designs to the committee to seek input and opinion as they are considered, but they do not need their approval for installation.

The design as presented this morning has several downtown destinations represented in simulated black and white photos, including the Alabama Theatre; the City Federal building; the Empire Building; Harbert Plaza; Railroad Park; Sloss Furnaces; Vulcan; and the soon to be lit Magic City sign along the Rotary Trail on Southside. A green UAB logo would sit in the middle of it. The design would be closer to what had been suggested by the committee while working with Harbert Realty on what they originally asked to be considered temporary signage more than two years ago.

The committee asked the applicants to come back for the next regularly scheduled meeting on March 23 to give them an opportunity to review the proposed design.

Unfortunately, the BhamPepsiSign Twitter account doesn’t exist anymore, so the sign could not be reached for comment.

Much to do this weekend, and much traffic to accompany it

20150611_114123This weekend, one thing you should not hear from a fellow resident is, “There’s nothing to do in Birmingham, AL.” There are several large events happening on both Friday and Saturday evenings in the city’s greater downtown area. The BJCC issued a press release to unveil their plans for traffic management as they prepare to host three Garth Brooks concerts featuring Trisha Yearwood (one June 12 and two on June 13) and multiple performances of Menopause: The Musical. This also happens to be the first time the adjacent Uptown entertainment district will operate as an open-carry zone — on Friday and Saturday — since getting approval from the City Council in March. They’ll get a chance to check out the new signage marking the boundaries for the district in addition to finally seeing the BJCC Legacy Arena’s new signage.

But first, they’ll navigate the modified traffic pattern:

BJCC Garth Brooks parking map

The highlights? You won’t be able to drive through the complex using Richard Arrington, Jr., Boulevard; it’ll be closed between 9th Avenue North and 22nd Street, North. By the way, 9th Avenue North will be operating as a one-way street heading westbound while 19th Street will be operating as a one-way northbound between 9th and 11th Avenues North.

Concert attendees and theater-goers may get a chance to rub elbows with those attending the kickoff of the 2015 Art on the Rocks! after-hours series at the Birmingham Museum of Art, attendees of the Y’all Connect digital storytelling concert looking for a bite to eat, baseball fans heading to Regions Field to watch the Barons take on the Chattanooga Lookouts, or moviegoers heading to the Alabama Theatre to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

… and then there’s Saturday.

Parking Map 2014

Barons fans will be milling about downtown and Parkside once again (first pitch is at 6:30 p.m.), as will those attending the Deontay Wilder WBC Heavyweight Title bout against Eric Molina at Bartow Arena. UAB has released the parking plan posted above in advance of Saturday’s event to help folks know where they can and cannot park.

Uptown becomes Birmingham’s first open container district

Uptown cupsThis St. Patrick’s Day, the Birmingham City Council  approved the city’s first entertainment district. The BJCC will be presenting the Uptown Entertainment District to the Council for consideration during the March 17, 2015 meeting (Item 1). The district would be the first established since the passage of an amendment to Birmingham’s ordinance on “Intoxicating Liquors” in September 2013. The design for the “to-go” cups to be used by businesses were not subject to Design Review Committee (DRC) approval though they were presented during the end of the review process last fall.

The Alabama State Legislature passed a law in 2012 allowing for “open carry” of drinks from participating businesses within the boundaries of a designated district (though drinks cannot be carried from one business to another). Several districts already exist elsewhere in the state, including two in Huntsville and one in Decatur. Uptown is considered an ideal a test case by many for other potential districts to watch, including the recently renamed Parkside district surrounding Regions Field; the Lakeview district; and a portion of Second Avenue North. The amp below shows the proposed boundaries for the district:


The BJCC received DRC approval for the necessary signage identifying the district’s proposed boundaries in October 2014 after reviewing options since that July. There is no official word about how soon the pole signs, designed by a local graphic designer, would be installed; it is also unclear as to when the relaxed rules would take effect.

During discussion involving the ordinance before the vote (unanimously 7-0; Councilors Lundy and Tyson were not present), Councilor Abbott suggested that the bugs get worked out in Uptown first before tackling other proposed districts. Council President Pro-Tem Roberson pointed out the potential financial benefits related to this district and future proposals.

Design Review signage approval means third Waffle House location slated for greater downtown Birmingham

New Waffle House 2015Birmingham’s Design Review Committee heard a signage case during Wednesday morning’s regularly scheduled meeting that sets the stage for a Waffle House location on the edge of the city’s central business district. It would be the third location in the greater downtown area — all opening in the last 3+ years.

There was no timetable given by the applicant for when the new location will open, though the proposal includes a refinishing of the facade. It will be the first one with direct access to Interstate I-65 since the location adjacent to the Medical Center Inn was demolished shortly after the purchase of the property by UAB in late 2011 to use as intramural fields.

The building in question, located at 1104 3rd Avenue North, has seen several restaurants in recent years. It also sits at the foot of one of the busiest off-ramps for Interstate 65 northbound into the downtown area. Its most prominent usage during that time period though would be that of campaign headquarters for former Birmingham mayor Larry Langford during his successful 2007 run for office (as this photo of Langford in front of the building by Bob Farley shows from that evening).

Photo: Rendering courtesy of applicant.

Auburn’s Urban Studio welcomed Birmingham to its new home Wednesday evening

AUurban studio signage unveilingVini Nathan, dean of Auburn University’s college of architecture, design, and construction, welcomed dozens of alumni, area residents, partner organizations, and Mayor William Bell to an open house celebrating the new home for the Urban Studio on Wednesday, September 4. The program for fifth year architecture students (officially known as the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies) now occupies the ground floor of a three-story building located at 221 20th Street North in Birmingham’s central business district. The event also served as a way to formally introduce the interim director of the studio, Alex Krumdieck, to the public and provided for the unveiling of a sign inside the space visible from the street identifying it.

The structure has previously served as home to several pharmacies, Shoney’s Big Boy, and Porter’s Clothing Company. During her remarks, Nathan hinted at hopes for the studio to be able to eventually occupy the entire building. Remarks were also made by Cathy Sloss Jones of Sloss Real Estate and the mayor (who reminisced about filming a campaign ad in the middle of the intersection the building sits on at 5:30 p.m. back in the late 70s).

Multi-million dollar renovation underway at The Redmont Hotel

Redmont renovation beginsIf you’ve driven by The Redmont Hotel in recent weeks, you’ve noticed plywood covering some of the windows and doors on the ground floor. The last two days have brought increased activity to the historic hotel as the first significant signs of its estimated $13.4 million renovation are now visible. Crews and machinery were in front of the building this morning. It will be the first extensive project undertaken at the hotel since 2007.

The property was one of the first ten to be awarded state tax credits as part of the Alabama Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit program earlier this year. It appears to be the first of those located in Birmingham to move forward with related work.

Last August saw Hay Creek Hotels announced as the hotel management company hired to oversee the renovation. They’ve already created a landing page for the property in its reservation network; Stewart Perry is serving as the project’s general contractor. The hotel has held a renovation sale during the last month, with management holding a party in the lobby back in June. Attendees were told at that time the property’s rooftop bar, Above, would open before the renovation was completed.