Health club uses added to downtown district
By Grace Lovins
Birmingham’s B4 downtown zone will now be allowed to have a new business use after city commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance amendment during the meeting on Monday, November 13, permitting health clubs and studios.
The city’s planning board spent multiple study sessions between June and September looking into adding the use to the city’s B4 zone. Health clubs/studios include businesses like yoga, Pilates, barre and personal training.
Planning board members agreed during their study sessions that the use should be limited to basements and second floors and above in the B4 zone. The Birmingham Shopping District (BSD) consulted with the planning board while they discussed the amendment and offered that allowing the use on the first floor could potentially interfere with the BSD’s plans for the future.
Commissioner Andrew Haig brought up a point that was raised during the planning board’s study session, asking planner Brooks Cowan if this is something the city has the ability to mediate. When consulting with commercial brokers, Cindy Ciura of CC Consulting stated that one thing to consider when allowing health clubs on upper levels is the noise of the business and structure of the buildings.
Haig noted that buildings have previously collapsed from the repetitive slamming and dropping of weights in buildings that were not structurally sound, while also offering his opinion that he doesn’t think older buildings are suited for this use.
Cowan said that in terms of structural concerns, if applicants came in for an occupancy permit on any kind of health club or studio, it is reviewed by the building department to make sure that everything is up to code such as structural load.
“Those requirements are all vetted through the building code and occupancy permit process,” said Cowan.
Commissioners voted unanimously, 7-0, to adopt the ordinance amendment allowing health clubs and studios downtown.