In response to COVID-related restrictions, REV worked with the City of Birmingham in 2020 to create a temporary permit giving street-level businesses options for using nearby sidewalk and parking spaces to expand their operations. We learned a lot about what worked and didn’t work for these outdoor dining setups in terms of materials, design requirements, placement etc. All that knowledge about best practices was rolled into our Shared Space Design Guide to give retail and restaurant owners an easily digestible guide filled with ideas and resources to utilize the relaxed restrictions on outdoor commerce during COVID. The design guide contained diagrams of properly executed outdoor dining spaces, as well as instructions on the required diagrams, and places to rent materials if needed.  

The increased revenue and vibrancy generated by businesses who took advantage of the shared spaces permit was an amazing boost to the city. Rather than roll back that progress by ending the temporary permit, REV and the City of Birmingham Department of Transportation worked together to make a new, permanent process for shared outdoor dining and retail in 2021. The new Public Space Permit draws on almost two years of experience with outdoor dining expansion to extend the best parts, like more types of usable public space, expands the offering, now allowing outdoor retail, and includes a funding mechanism for increased oversight to ensure that all the new spaces remain safe, attractive, and ADA compliant. 


In early 2022, City Council officially approved the Public Space Permit. That means businesses who created temporary outdoor spaces during COVID can now apply to make those spaces permanent additions to their serving or retail footprint (which means more revenue)! The increased certainty of a new permanent process for these spaces should make it even more attractive for businesses to invest a little time and money in creating them. We hope to see even more colorful dining set-ups dotting Birmingham sidewalks and adding vibrancy in 2022 and beyond!  


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