Planning Commission, March 3, 2015

The commission dealt with the first of several tasks related to Samford's acquisition of Southern Progress property.

The commission tonight dealt with the first of several tasks related to Samford’s acquisition and planned rezoning of Southern Progress property.

Tonight’s two cases involve two resurveys, one involving Samford University’s acquisition of Southern Progress’ 28-acre campus, and one involving a small but complex land swap and extension of Grace Street near the Middle School.

Members present: Fred Azbik, Billy Higginbotham, chairman, Mike Brandt, vice-chairman, Jeffery Foster, Fred Hawkins, Battalion Chief Nickolas Hill, James Riddle, and Mark Woods.

Members absent: James Ponseti.

Staff attendance: Donna Bridges, commission secretary; Greg Cobb, manager, Engineering, Planning & Zoning Department; and Vanessa McGrath, engineer, Engineering, Planning and Zoning Department.

Audience attendance:  5

All votes unanimous, unless noted otherwise. For rezoning cases, the Planning Commission’s votes are advisory only; the City Council has the final say after conducting its own public hearing on each case.

Announcement: Ms. McGrath announced that a public hearing was set for the city council on Monday, March 23, at 6 p.m. before considering proposed changes to zoning book. The matters were heard by the Planning and Development Committee yesterday, and will likely go back for further discussion following the hearing.

Carried over approving the minutes of the Feb. 3, 2015 meeting due to late distribution.

The Grace Street plan.

The Grace Street plan. Click to enlarge.

Allowed homeowners to redraw the lines on two lots on Grace Street: In a complicated maneuver, the commission allowed the boundary line to be moved between two lots lying the western end of Grace Street. The applicant had originally purchased the lot at 1006, which is sandwiched between her neighbor’s house to the west, and a narrower vacant lot to the east, also owned by the neighbor. The Planning Commission in January had waived city street regulations to allow a rudimentary extension of Grace Street to access the property.

Tonight, the applicant was back before the commission, explaining that she intended to trade lots with her neighbor in order to build on the one farthest east, which would create a wider buffer space between the two houses — when hers is built–and also required a shorter extension of Grace Street to access the property. The resurvey will move the property line on her new lot 30 feet to the west to give her more street frontage.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Allowed Samford University to redraw one parcel into four on the Southern Progress property:

Samford University has recently completed the purchase of the Southern Progress campus at 4100 Old Montgomery Highway and tonight asked to divide the single parcel into four separate parcels. Two parcels are for a new School of Nursing and College of Health Sciences, and one will be leased to Time, Inc., with access from Old Montgomery Highway. The fourth parcel is to remain green space for use by Samford students and Time, Inc. employees.

The resurvey will simplify sewer issues and pave the way for a planned rezoning of the university buildings from the current PCD-1 (Planned Office District) to I-3 (institutional district). In connection with the rezoning, Samford will need to seek variances so that the buildings’ current heights and setbacks will be permitted under I-3.

[For more information on plans for the Southern Progress site, the following is excerpted from Samford University’s website: 

“Samford University has completed the purchase of property adjacent to the campus that has served as the headquarters for Southern Progress Corp. The $58 million sale was finalized Dec. 31.

The 28-acre tract includes nearly 400,000-square-feet of space in three buildings and more than 1,000 parking spaces.

Samford will renovate two buildings to house its College of Health Sciences, which includes the schools of health professions, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Some CHS administrative offices will relocate to the new space in early February, but Samford will not move full operations and classes until sometime in 2016, according to Harry B. Brock III, Samford’s vice president for business and financial affairs.

Under the purchase agreement, Time Inc., the parent company for Southern Progress, will have a long-term lease on one building to house its Birmingham operations, which include Southern Living and Cooking Light magazines. Time, Inc. has until December 2016 to renovate that space and move its operations.

Brock said the main entrance to College of Health Sciences will be what is now the main entrance to the Southern Progress property on Lakeshore Drive. Once relocated,  the entrance to Time Inc.’s building will be on Old Montgomery Highway.

SPC purchased the then-undeveloped property from Samford in 1987 to relocate and consolidate its operations from other Birmingham locations. Time Inc. had announced plans early in 2014 to seek a buyer for the property that would allow Southern Progress to remain in Birmingham.


The meeting adjourned at 6:15 p.m.


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