Alabama 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.
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.
Charlotte Donlon started the35212 two years ago as a way to help focus on the people, places and events in the neighborhoods contained within, including Crestwood and Woodlawn. She was the focus of one of my first Digital City columns for B-Metro Magazine. Now, she’s announced two different initiatives that should raise the profile of the site across the city.
There’s currently an effort underway to raise funds to produce an “old school community newsletter” for the site via Kickstarter. As of this post (with nine days to go), they’ve received pledges for approximately 55% of the funds necessary to start the project.
Donlon’s also announced plans to do similar sites for each of the city’s 28 zip codes. Each zip code’s web domain would be similar to the35212 with a central site, initially planning to be headquartered at findingbhm.wordpress.com, connecting them all. She’s posted additional information about the expansion of her project here. She’s also laid out initial plans for sponsorship of the current site.
The folks over at The Heaviest Corner were able to get inside of The Pizitz Building recently and take a look at how the historic structure currently looks (they aren’t sharing exactly how they got in however). They’d already written about the building earlier this year (February).
They were also able to take some photos of the proposed plans for the building’s renovation.
Plans were for the 1923 building were announced building back in January via The Birmingham News after several attempts to redevelop the building (including this one from 2003).
The developer, Bayer Properties, has created a page for the project, scheduled for completion in 2010, on its official website. Both law firm Baker Donelson and Forest Park grocer V. Richards have announced their intention to move into the building once the project is completed.
Photo: courtesy of The Heaviest Corner post.
JJ MacCrimmon is a photographer out of Huntsville, AL who recently posted these images of the historic Lyric Theater on his blog Orbits of a deluded mind. He’s promised to share additional photos from his trip this past July soon.
The upper floors of the building that housed the theater has been vacant for many years now, but as many of you may know (and as JJ points out in his first post of photos back in December) there are many people working to restore the property and have it see use again as a performance venue for Birmingham, AL. The Lyric is currently owned by Birmingham Landmarks, Inc., the organization that currently operates The Alabama Theatre. Folks looking for additional information about the theater can check out this entry on BhamWiki or this post from Cinema Treasures.
Folks looking to find out how they can help with the theater’s renovation efforts should check out the official Lyric Theater website.
Photo: A look up into the Lyric Theater. acnatta/Flickr
Posted in Travelogue
Tagged 35203, AL, Alabama, architecture, B'ham, Birmingham, downtown, Lyric Theater, photos, plans, preservation
Forbes Magazine recently published a report listing Birmingham, AL as one the worst city for a commute in the United States (granted it was 52nd out of the top 75). Folks in the metropolitan area have felt that way for a long time, fueling proposals from several groups about what to do to alleviate traffic along one of the major routes, U.S. 280.
Our state department of transportation and Gov. Riley have presented a proposal to make the well-traveled thoroughfare into a toll road with elevated lanes between I-459 and Double Oak Mountain. Another group has voiced concern about that proposal, calling themselves ReThink 280. Their blog currently serves as a clearinghouse of information for those wanting to keep track of the proposed changes and what work is already taking place. They also present their own solution for the road.
There’s no doubt that some of those in support of the group’s efforts will be at the presentation being made on March 8 at 10 a.m. at Mountain Brook City Hall by ALDOT representatives and project consultant Linda Figg.
Photo: Courtesy of ReThink 280 website.
Posted in traffic, transportation
Tagged AL, Alabama, announcement, B'ham, Birmingham, elevated highway, I-459, information, plans, road, solutions, traffic, transportation, US 280
Earlier this afternoon Skirt! Magazine here in Birmingham announced via its Twitter feed that it would no longer be associated with Media General, owners of NBC13HD. Subsequent tweets asked for anyone interested in helping save the magazine to contact them via direct message on Twitter (typing the letter “d” in front of their username (skirtBirmingham) or via email. The magazine was founded in 1994 in Charleston, SC and Birmingham is one of 23 markets currently served by it. They do plan to move forward with the local edition of the publication.
Posted in Media
Tagged AL, Alabama, B'ham, Birmingham, future, magazine, Media General, plans, publication, skirt!, status
Mountain Brook Inn being demolished today. leadingzero/twitpic
The wrecking ball (or crane as the case may be) appears to be providing evening rush hour drivers along U.S. Highway 280 with a show – in the form of the demolition of the Mountain Brook Inn. According to this story published on April 10 in The Birmingham News, the demolition is scheduled to take approximately eight weeks.
Thanks to @leadingzero for the use of the image; you can also check out this post on BirminghamDome to learn more about the known plans for the property (as well as that author’s thoughts about it’s place in Birmingham’s current development scheme).
Posted in 35223, architecture, Business
Tagged AL, Alabama, beginning, Birmingham, demolished, image, Mountain Brook, Mountain Brook Inn, plans, razed, start, Twitter