Category Archives: architecture

Plans for new development on former Waite’s site move forward

Waites Fine Foods currentThe demolition of the former Waite’s Fine Foods property, located at the southeastern corner of Richard Arrington, Jr. Boulevard and 7th Avenue South, was approved on a 5-4 vote during yesterday’s regularly scheduled Birmingham Design Review Committee meeting. The vote took place nearly a year after plans were first announced for a $13 million, four-story, mixed-use development on the site.

The developer, Retail Specialists, and the architect, Bill Segrest of Williams Blackstock Architects, must still return to the committee to receive final approval for the building’s design.  Segrest told the committee he and the developer still hope to incorporate parts of the existing limestone facade into the new structure, though they did not want to promise to do so as of yet in case it was not able to be salvaged during the demolition process. If it cannot be salvaged, it was stated efforts would be made to reference distinct architectural elements in the new design.

Rocky’s had originally announced plans to relocate before demolition started via an article in the Birmingham Business Journal last April. A recent interview with stated a new location has not been secured as of yet. It was also suggested it will most likely re-open along one of the metro area’s other commercial corridors at a later date if they choose to do so. The current location will close on Saturday, March 19. Another tenant of the existing building, Stillwater Pub, closed on January 31, announcing the date last August.

They hope to start demolition next month, with construction starting this summer and the building ready for occupancy in summer 2017.

RELATED: Proposed Southside mixed-use redevelopment draws attention, 4.8.2015

Steam Plant Plaza receives Design Review Committee approval

Design review Sept. image 2Alabama Power received schematic design approval of its plans for the park and plaza surrounding its Powell Avenue Steam Plant from Birmingham’s Design Review Committee on Wednesday morning, allowing for permits to be secured and work to begin. Nelson Byrd Woltz, a firm with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and New York City, presented the proposed plans for the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham’s former Prize 2 the Future site (a.k.a., Lot D) to the committee, meeting the first time since the cycling accident that claimed the life of committee member and local contractor William Robertson on August 29.

A report on the company’s Alabama Newscenter website (as well as a post to the project’s website) states construction is expected to begin this fall, taking approximately one year to complete. The approval includes streetscape, furniture, and landscaping for the city block located between 18th and 19th Streets along 1st Avenue South.

09092015 Powell Ave DRC Package image

The plaza’s the main entrance, located on the block’s southwest corner, will mimic the Red Mountain Expressway‘s “cut” using limestone and iron ore and matching the berm height of its existing neighbor to the west. Those materials will be used with sandstone to create a seeping fountain. The resulting main plaza could be used as an amphitheater. A scrim fountain will double as a reflecting pool, lining up with the taller of the steam plant’s two smokestacks and serving as the centerpiece of an allée. A water feature will run through a perennial plant garden along the site’s southeastern edge.

The portion of Powell Street passing directly in front of the building, vacated by the city of Birmingham earlier this year, will have bollards installed at its western end. It will still be accessible from 19th Street, providing access to a “food truck grove” and some off-street parking. The plans also call for a small covered pavilion and restrooms. Several sections throughout the site are designated for allowing outdoor dining. A “stack garden” will run along the northern edge of the structure, providing visitors access to a unique, elevated view of the railroad tracks and the surrounding area during business hours.

While a rendering showing an overview of the project site shows a landscaped parking lot along the northern edge of Railroad Park, a representative from the utility stated it was included as conceptual. The site does sit immediately south of the intermodal transit facility currently under construction along Morris Avenue. The plan presented today does call for a reduction of parking along 1st Avenue South – partially to accommodate the allée – though the remaining spaces will remain angled.

UPDATE: Where did those lion heads from Terminal Station go?

terminal lionA post to Facebook courtesy of the Birmingham History Center alerted many in the city’s digital world of a chance to secure a couple of lion heads — from our namesake.

The two metal pieces were part of the Terminal Station’s frontispiece and were available via an auction house in Leeds. The nonprofit made a plea (one shared to this website’s fan page as well) on June 5, the day of the auction, using the popular social platform asking for anyone who could to consider purchasing the decorative ornaments and then donating them to the museum. Unfortunately, the center’s spending limit for that evening was $4,000; the pieces sold for $8,000 (including auction house fees) to a private collector.

Incidentally, while the center did move from its former home on 1st Avenue North in October 2013, it does still exist. Its offices are currently housed in the Pythian Building on 18th Street North, across from the currently-under-multi-million-dollar-renovation Lyric Theater. Display cases containing portions of its collections can be seen in the Pythian’s lobby; at the Tutwiler Hotel; and at the Alabama Theatre. Plus, they apparently still have the virtual tour of its former home available for you to peruse.

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.

Friends of Rickwood Field seek donations to help finish reconstruction of historic train depot

rickwoodshedunderconstructionA visit to Rickwood Field in recent weeks has meant seeing a structure being constructed out in foul territory around short left field where a metal shed once stood. Construction continues, with hopes of it being mostly complete in time for next week Wednesday’s Rickwood Classic between the Birmingham Barons and the Mississippi Braves, but they’re in need of $25,000 to do so.

The building, a train depot formerly located in downtown Birmingham along 14th St. N., has been given a new lease on life as a batting cage for America’s oldest ballpark. It was seen as a win for preservationists who’d wanted to see the structure preserved as part of a new Alagasco operations center after its demolition had been approved by the city’s Design Review Committee in January. The plans for the building were announced shortly after demolition had begun this spring.

Alagasco has worked with general contractor Stewart Perry Construction and the nonprofit organization the Friends of Rickwood on the building’s move — one that will include being used by Birmingham city high schools and Miles College. A Razoo donation page has been set up for several weeks now, and the campaign has one week left. They’re asking for people to share the link and the story with as many people as possible.

UPDATE: Two-sided Pepsi sign may go atop Two North Twentieth after all

UPDATE: Since this post went live, a follow-up piece has been posted by Mike Tomberlin at suggesting the situation might not be finished yet as Harbert must get committee approval. The original post sits unchanged below.

Changes atop 2 North TwentiethFolks passing through downtown or enjoying Railroad Park in recent days may have noticed that the electronic sign atop Two North Twentieth was dormant. This morning, as scaffolding was visible on the northern side of the building, Mike Tomberlin of reported that the city had granted permission to install a vinyl wrap around the existing sign.

According to his report, this is after it was determined the city’s Design Review Committee – an advisory body who’d seen the proposal at least four times in the previous 19 months during their regular business meetings – did not need to see it after all. We last heard about the proposed treatment for the building’s iconic sign last July when it was denied approval because it was considered a billboard by the committee.

While the building, built in 1962 and renovated in 1999 was sold last summer for $19 million, ownership of the sign was retained by Harbert according to Tomberlin’s report. One thing we’re interested in is the official size of the sign. The building’s entry on Bhamwiki states it’s 176′ x 26′; the late publisher of Black & White, Chuck Geiss, referenced its dimensions as 176′ x 25′ in his Naked Birmingham column for January 4, 2001 as the sign was preparing to make a return to the city’s skyline after an extended absence. This morning’s report said the signs would measure 176′ x 57′.

It’s also a great time to highlight the recent refresh of Buffalo Rock’s website. The company’s logo is in a prominent location (though you’ve got to head over to the site’s “products” section before you find information about the company’s namesake ginger alestill available directly from the company).