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Commercial for All Seasons 2 a no go for planning

By Grace Lovins

Proposed commercial use for the new All Seasons 2 building, located at 219 Elm Street in Birmingham, was shot down by the city’s planning board during the Wednesday, May 22, meeting, with one board member frankly calling the concept “a case of bad urban design.”

The decision comes in the midst of the board’s discussions on updating the mixed-use building requirements for the Triangle District, during which they have emphasized adding more commercial space to activate the street.

All Seasons 2, directly adjacent to the independent senior living facility All Seasons, built in 2015, is also an independent senior living facility. The developers, however, came back to the planning board proposing to convert one of the first floor, 1,500 square feet residential units to a commercial use.

Explained by architect Mark Abanatha of Alexander V. Bogaerts & Associates, P.C., the proposed commercial unit would sit in between two residential units on the ground floor of the building along Elm Street. He stated that he and the team working on the project felt that the additional use was more in line with the spirit and intent of what the Triangle District is trying to do.

Only one board member, Robin Boyle, agreed with Abanatha. Boyle stated that there was a bit of skepticism about whether a commercial use at that location would work, but he acknowledged that the board pushed hard for more mixed use buildings in the district.

“We’re being asked here to do what we’ve been wanting to do, and that’s bring mixed use to the Triangle District. I don’t think we’re in any position to say, ‘No, you can’t bring this,’” Boyle said.

According to Sam Beznos of Beztak Companies, the owner and developer, he and his team talked with real estate brokers in the city and identified uses that would be ideal in this space. He named financial services and insurances, boutique retail or jewelry, boutique fitness studio, art gallery, and a tutoring business, among others.

Most board members said they weren’t skeptical like Boyle, but completely against the proposal. saying that this is not what they’ve been envisioning when discussing mixed use in the district.

“I don’t think this is the kind of mixed use this board has been trying to obtain,” said chair Scott Clein. “This is a donut hole being filled.”

Ultimately, the board voted 6-1 to recommend denial of the revised site plan and the special land use permit amendment to the city commission, with Boyle voting against denial. Jason Emerine voted in place of board member Daniel Share who was absent.


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