Plans approved for former Junior League site
By Kevin Elliott
Plans to construct a new three-story, mixed-use building at the site of the former Junior League Building, 460 N. Old Woodward, were moved forward for approval on Thursday, December 16, by the Birmingham Planning Board.
Plans for the site include razing the existing building and constructing a new three-story building with first-floor retail, second floor office space, two residential units on the third floor, and an activated rooftop. The site also contains a new single-access drive, and four parking spaces in an off-street parking facility.
Because the proposed building is in the city’s parking assessment district, additional parking more than what is provided isn’t required.
The first floor would feature a new bistro restaurant proposed by Samy Eid, who operates Phoenicia and Forest. The Birmingham City Commission in November approved the Wilder’s Supper Club to move forward with the city’s bistro review process in 2022. Eid described the bistro as a “throwback to the glory days of American dining.”
Birmingham Planning Director Nicholas Dupuis said office use is limited to one floor in the D-2 zoning district, with office use planned for the second floor only. The third floor would be used for residential, which is permitted with a 10-foot setback from any building facade. The rooftop terrace would include potted plantings.
Planning board members inquired about access to the rear parking area and dumpster enclosure, which is narrow and partially obstructed by the building’s overhang of the upper floors.
Alex Saroki of Saroki Architecture, which is working on the project with developers with Boji Group, said they have obtained an agreement with the adjacent neighbors at 450 N. Old Woodward for a shared easement to allow for more access to the parking area behind the building. He said dumpsters at the site are small and can be wheeled to the front of the building for pickups.
“When the restaurant comes back (for review), my guess is that property to the south will have concerns about trucks in the driveway area,” board member Bryan Williams said. “That’s not before us tonight, but probably will be. I suggest talking to the neighbor. We will tell you to go back if you haven’t.”
Planning board members also discussed a lack of streetscape in the area, and asked Saroki if they would be willing to adhere to additional streetscape requirements in the future, to which Saroki expressed consent.
Board members unanimously recommended the city commission approve the site plan and design review, with board member Scott Clein recused from the discussion and vote.