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Triangle District mixed-use review continuing

By Grace Lovins

Mixed-use building requirements in the city’s Triangle District was the topic once again of a study session of the Birmingham Planning Board on Wednesday, November 8.

The discussion of mixed-use building requirements was brought on by a concern that buildings were not adequately proportioned in terms of the uses, which planning director Nick Dupuis noted during the board’s first study session. Discussion of an ordinance amendment has also brought to light concerns over activated frontage in specific areas, as well as giving developments bonus stories for receiving a LEED certification.

Since the last study session in October, Dupuis added language to the draft amendment that would require commercial use on the first floor of mixed-use buildings on Adams Road, Haynes Street, Bowers Street and Woodward Avenue.

Planning board members agreed that they want to bring more activated use to the frontage of mixed use buildings in the district, but ultimately decided they want to review the definition of “commercial use” before deciding if they want to limit the requirement to just those four streets.

Board members also dove into the district’s current incentive for developers to obtain a LEED certification in exchange for additional stories. Concerns were raised during previous study sessions about the certification level that developers aim for and the enforceability of requiring a LEED certification.

During previous study sessions, the question of enforceability was raised by the board regarding developers receiving extra floors for obtaining a LEED certification. According to some of the board, if developers don’t follow through with the certification, they don’t face any consequences as it is unlikely the city would require them to tear down the additional floors.

The discussion of enforceability led the board to suggest keeping LEED certification as a requirement in the district, but scrapping the incentive for extra stories. Most of the board agreed that it would be a good option, with some recommending a different requirement to receive additional stories.

Board member Stuart Jeffares recommended changing the requirement for extra floors to require developers to provide a community benefit, like public parking. The board offered different suggestions for how to build out funding to provide a community benefit, eventually asking Dupuis to look into the feasibility of including it into the ordinance amendment.


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