Birmingham, Michigan

The City of Birmingham, population 21,322 (2018), is a suburb in Oakland County, roughly 20 miles north of downtown Detroit. In 2007, Birmingham adopted a form-based code for a 20-block area bounded by Maple, Adams, and Woodward. Within three of the four zoning districts in this Triangle Overlay District, TDR from protected historic landmarks, in addition to four other mechanisms, can be used to exceed baseline building height. 

The code establishes baseline building heights that can be exceeded when developers propose to add two or more of the following features to their projects.

  • A multi-level parking structure with publicly available parking at the ratio of one space per 300 square feet of floor area in all floors above the baseline height. In the event that no additional floors are proposed, the applicant must supply one space per 300 square feet in the building’s top floor. Developers have the option of paying $15,000 in lieu of each required parking space, which the City then uses to build offsite public parking.
  • Dedication of an improved public plaza with an area at least 25 percent of the floor area of all floors above baseline or 25 percent of the floor area of the top floor if no additional floors are proposed.
  • A mixed-use building in which at least half the building is residential and the dwelling units are above first floor commercial.
  • LEED building design.
  • Transfer of development rights for unused potential floor area from a designated historic landmark (calculated as the difference between the landmark’s floor area and the amount of floor area permitted in the landmark’s zoning district). The TDRs are granted following the recording of a conservation easement on that landmark as reviewed and approved by the Historic District Commission.

The bonus height available when two or more of the above features are proposed varies depending on which of the three qualifying zoning districts the receiving site project is located within.      

  • MU3 District: Additional 24 feet or two stories
  • MU5 District: Additional 12 feet or one story
  • MU7 District: Additional 24 feet or two stories