Downtown Birmingham's Pierce Street parking garage will soon have a smoother ride up to your car, and be better lit while doing so.
The city plans to install LED lights in the structure's 227 fixtures, replacing old high-pressure sodium bulbs, for a cost of $350,000; $125,000 of that will be federal stimulus money.
Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham, says he received the final design last week for review, but expects the contract to go out for bid within the next three weeks or so. "The lighting is roughly 25 years old. It's outdated, and we're repairing lights on a regular basis."
He says replacing lights will not only improve the garage's energy savings, but the quality of light in the garage as well. LED lights use a fraction of the electricity of normal bulbs, and they also last several years longer than normal street lights. The city of Birmingham expects to save $18,000 in electricity annually, plus thousands more dollars in maintenance costs.
Also in the Pierce Street parking structure, plans are to replace the elevators this coming summer, first with the elevator at the Brown Street entrance, scheduled to close Oct. 25, and then on the Pierce Street side, scheduled to close in January. The project will run just under $410,000; the elevators currently in place are original to the early 1960s building.
"It's just time," Cousino says. "They've reached the end of their service life."
In another parking structure, the North Old Woodward parking deck, resealing the exterior has been completed, and very smoothly, too, Cousino says, coming in on time and budget. The city added some other work to that job, at the Chester Street parking structure, including replacing some stairs and decking worn down by regular use, for an additional $77,000 or thereabouts to the original $499,000.
And although parking structure maintenance may seem low on the priority list, the interior of a structure is one of the first things a visitor to Birmingham sees, after all. "We hope to maintain a high level of customer service here," Cousino says. "Overall, our goal is to extend the life of these structures as much as possible, and replace as much equipment as possible before it fails."
Source: Brendan Cousino, assistant city engineer for Birmingham
Writer: Kristin Lukowski
While most so-called progressive cities in Michigan are struggling with capping building height, Birmingham is looking at ways to make them taller.
The city's planning commission is looking at reforming its ordinances to allow additional floors on its downtown buildings for residential space. It's also looking at setting a minimum height for structures in the downtown area. That's an about face in conventional wisdom in local planning, where public officials regularly bend to the whims of people who want to freeze their one- and two-story city centers in amber.
The first ordinance change calls for allowing downtown construction projects to build one story higher than rules allow. However, the catch is that extra story must be for residential purposes and have a 10-foot setback.
The other ordinance change would mandate that all buildings must be at least two stories tall. The idea is to make the downtown more dense and urban, steering it away from the suburban-style planning habits of the mid-to-late 20th Century.
Source: City of Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke
Work on the Lincoln Hills Golf Course clubhouse is finished and the new structure is now open.
"This is a state-of-the-art facility," says Andy Dombrowski, assistant manager of golf operations for the city of Birmingham. "They did a tremendous job."
The club house needed it. The existing building was basically replaced from the ground up. That included ripping out and replacing some inner block/brick walls that have suffered significant deterioration. Gone is the leaky roof and the lack of air conditioning.
The renovated structure features new counters, doors, windows, roof, decorative fencing along 14 Mile Road, a covered storage area for carts, landscaping around the building, HVAC system, and updated restrooms. The parking lot is also repaved.
The golf course, which is owned and run by the city, is located at 2666 W 14 Mile Road.
Source: Andy Dombrowski, assistant manager of golf operations for the city of Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke
The city of Birmingham plans to do some renovation work on the North Old Woodward parking deck on the north side of downtown this summer.
The city plans to spend $499,000 to reseal the exterior of the structure this summer to keep it safe. The sealant work will help repair some concrete work on the parking deck's interior and exterior. The building remains structurally sound, according to city officials.
"If we continue to do preventative maintenance on it, it will last a whole lot longer," says Brendan Cousino, an employee of the city's Engineering Department who is helping to oversee the project. He believes that continued maintenance will extend the parking garage's lifespan for another 20-50 years.
The parking deck was built in 1966 and can hold up to 745 vehicles. It is located about one block north of the Uptown Palladium movie theater.
Sources: Brendan Cousino, engineering department employee for the city of Birmingham and Jana Ecker, director of planning for the city of Birmingham
Writer: Jon Zemke