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  • By Lisa Brody

S. Old Woodward development clears planning

A preliminary site plan and community impact study for development of the former Mountain King and Talmer Bank sites on S. Old Woodward received unanimous approvals from the Birmingham Planning Board at their meeting on Wednesday, June 24. The sites, at 469 and 479 S. Old Woodward, have been under discussion and review for several years, primarily because the applicant, Doraid Markus, had originally sought to build a nine-story hotel on the property. Markus then sought to rezone the property from D-4, which permits five-story mixed-use buildings in the city's downtown, to D-5, which was a new zoning district to encompass higher and non-conforming buildings, such as 555 Building, Birmingham Place and Merrillwood Building. A request to have the site rezoned to D-5 narrowly passed the planning board recently with its recommendation for approval to the city commission, which is scheduled to review it later this summer. On Wednesday, June 24, city planner Nicholas Dupuis said the applicant had submitted an application for a new five-story mixed-use building with first floor retail, second floor office, and 45 residential units on floors three through five, as well as a rooftop patio, encompassing about 116,000 square feet. In addition, the applicant is proposing 119 parking spaces spread across two underground levels and ground level, utilizing subterranean lifts and electric car charging stations. Dupuis said they are required to have 97 spaces, so they more than meet the parking requirement. “They have put aside a significant portion of the first and second floor for an anchor tenant, it looks like a bank, with full facades on both sides of the building,” he said. Some planning concerns included that the plans did not show the amount of bedrooms per units, which Dupuis said were needed to help determine if there was the appropriate square footage for the units; the balconies extend two-feet into the right-of-way, which would need a planning board determination; and the schematics show a permanent shade structure on the rooftop, which planning director Jana Ecker noted is not permitted in the ordinance. “It needs a revision without a habitable space or a variance from the zoning board of appeals,” she informed architect Chris Longe, representing the applicant. The applicant can now move forward towards final site plan review.

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