Birmingham City Commissioners approved expanding an area in the MX, or Rail District, allowing properties to be eligible to be considered for economic development liquor licenses at their meeting on Monday, October 28.
The properties are along Cole and the east side of Lincoln streets, with one property at 2159 E. Lincoln, the former Birmingham Schools' bus garage, having applied to receive an economic development license to convert the property into a restaurant and take out spot called Lincoln Yard and Little Yard.
An economic development license is an economic incentive, with Birmingham originally designating underutilized properties along Woodward as areas that could use revitalization. To receive an economic development liquor license, where a Class C liquor license can be brought in from another municipality, the property must be zoned as qualified for it, and have at least $10 million in investments or an increase of 500 percent in value.
To date, three economic development licenses have been issued by the city: to Hazel, Ravines and Downtown; Triple Nickel; and All Seasons of Birmingham.
City planner Brooks Cowan said that the majority of properties eligible for an economic development license are on Woodward between Oakland and Lincoln. “There are currently no properties eligible for an economic development license east of Adams,” he said. “It constitutes a considerable economic benefit to the city and a substantial development.”
He said another factor considered in determining if the area would be eligible was the Eton Road Corridor Plan.
Commissioner Mark Nickita asked if this would be consistent with the south Rail District discussion in the master plan draft, and Cowan said he thought so.
To concerns that the whole district could be given economic development licenses, Nickita countered, “This is not a zoning ordinance that is a right – this is an allowance. It can be denied if it does not fit all the requirements.”
Commissioners voted 5-0, with mayor Patty Bordman and commissioner Rackeline Hoff absent, to approve extending the district.