Planners push retail in Triangle District building
By Kevin Elliott
Birmingham Planning Board members considering a six-story, mixed-use building on Wednesday, February 23, in the city’s Triangle District urged developers to increase the amount of retail usage proposed in the area to help activate Adams Road.
A preliminary site plan for the project was considered in January and postponed as board members took issue with the project’s proposed first-floor residential units along S. Adams Road. The board voted on February 23 to further postpone a decision on the plans until their meeting on March 9 because the city’s traffic engineering consultant hadn’t completed its review of the project.
Birmingham Planning Director Nick Dupuis said the applicant’s updated plans call for relocating first-floor retail from Worth Street to Adams, as well as increasing the total height to six floors on one side of the building. Dupuis said the addition would mean about 1.7 percent of the proposed 235,000 square feet of the building would be used for retail business, with 98.3 percent used for residential units.
Planning board member Janelle Boyce said she couldn’t support the project without removing all first-floor residential from the frontage on Adams.
“We want a retail component on Adams,” she said. “Residential makes sense on Haynes and Worth, but Adams presents an opportunity. I really need that to happen. I hope you find a way to do that.”
Board member Stuart Jeffares agreed.
“This area is very important to the city. This and the Rail District are an opportunity to put a bow on one of the best places to live in the country,” Jeffares said. “There’s not a lot of large parcels in this area, so if you give a pass for no retail, then we’ll never get it. I really think being this large of a parcel, we really have to be careful and make sure this embodies the flavor and spirit of the Triangle plan. It fits in a lot of ways. The amount of residential it represents in the area is 30 percent of what the master plan calls to increase, but the retail that the plan calls for – it’s about one percent.”
Board member Daniel Share said the lack of parking along Adams Road understandably makes establishing retail business in the area challenging.
“I don’t see much activity by people being drawn into that part of town in cars to go to retail on Adams,” Share said. “While I would like to have an active street, I’m not sure that’s possible on Adams given the traffic and lack of parking on the street there.”
The proposed building would span an entire block, bound by Worth Street, Haynes, a public alley and Adams Road to the east. The project aims to combine parcels, currently containing Citizens Bank, 1000 Haynes, and a two-story office building at 770 S. Adams. The project doesn’t include the corner parcel at 720 S. Adams, formerly the Plant Station. The project is proposed by FHS Birmingham, which includes the Forbes Group, Hunter Pasteur and Soave Enterprises.
The proposed development would include more than 150 high-end residential units; an on-side parking garage with 266 spaces; workout and yoga facilities; a pool deck and gathering spaces.
The planning board will take up the project’s community impact study and preliminary site plan and design review on March 9.