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No new posts are being added to this blog. For planning news and updates, check out The BIG Picture Huntsville (also on Facebook). For transportation info, check out the Huntsville Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

"The Peaks" waiting on interchange approval

The Peaks at Southchase, a controversial lifestyle center/power center/residential development proposed by local developer Louis Breland and DeBartolo Development of Tampa, is waiting on approval for a new interchange at I-565 and Zierdt Road, where the new project is located. The 263-acre project caused controversy earlier this year because of a request to the Alabama Legislature to deannex the property out of Madison and annex it into Huntsville. The developers believed that Madison could not afford the infrastructure improvements needed for the 1.6M sq. ft development. The bill died, and Madison convinced the developers that they could afford such a large project.

Huntsville Times article: "Lifestyle center" still in works

As of now, The Peaks will include:
  • A lifestyle center similar to Bridge Street and The Summit in Birmingham with approximately 55 stores
  • A power center with big-box stores like Sam's Club, Target, and Home Depot (these aren't announced tenants, just good guesses) and a grocery store (Kroger?)
  • Two hotels
  • A 16-screen movie theater
  • A residential development

Monday, December 24, 2007

Linens n' Things, Circuit City to Bridge Street?

This flyer for a vacant anchor space in Madison Square Mall shows Linens n' Things and Circuit City as anchors for Bridge Street, along with the stores already announced (Old Navy, ULTA, DSW, and Barnes and Noble). If the flyer is right, the two stores will be located in the strip of three large stores planned west of the lifestyle center.

Friday, December 21, 2007

YMCA goes downtown

This project was announced a couple of months ago, but today, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the $850,000 project located on the first floor of the Huntsville Utilities building. The 14,378 sq. ft. state-of-the-art fitness center will open in May as the Downtown Express Center and will cater to the growing number of people living and working downtown. The YMCA previously occupied a building in East Downtown for 80 years. That building was renovated in 2001 for law offices.

Huntsville Times blog article: YMCA coming back to downtown Huntsville
Central YMCA renovation by Fuqua and Partners architects

15 story "apartment complex" proposed

I found this today on Bidclerk.com, a "construction leads" website that gives contractors a look at what's coming in their area. It also helps interested people like myself find new developments that I wouldn't read about in the newspaper or anywhere else on the Internet. Today, a 15-story "apartment complex" appeared under Huntsville, AL. No other details were given other than the "estimated start date" is April 2008. It's safe to say that probably won't happen.

There are two possibilities for this project. One, it could be Randy Scrimsher's proposed 21-story condo tower/parking garage project proposed about 5 years ago. The project seemed dead until it resurfaced during a height limits debate this past summer. It is very possible that the building could be built on top of a proposed 6-story parking garage at the corner of Holmes Ave. and Greene St. which would make it 21 floors. It is also possible that this could be a totally new project that hasn't been announced yet. Stay tuned...

Bidclerk project report

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

St. James Place- Jones Valley

St. James Place is a proposed retail and office development on Cecil Ashburn Drive in Jones Valley. From the site plan, it looks like the 83,330 sq ft center will be right at the foot of Huntsville Mountain on the right side of Cecil Ashburn. Retail space will be located on the first floor, with office space on the second and third floors. It also looks like a restaurant is proposed on an out parcel (see photo). I don't understand the naming of this development, but it does look nice.

And in somewhat related news, a residential development is proposed in a field across the street from the future site of St. James Place, behind the office buildings, CVS, and Waffle House. It might be a small apartment or condo complex.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

New A&M Bus Terminal

I am a big fan of public transit. Bad thing is, Huntsville's transit system is one of the most underused in the nation. Only 1500-1800 riders use it daily. Why? Because it doesn't serve commuters and there is little night and weekend service. Don't blame the city- they're doing the best they can with the funding they get. But that's another story.

The other bus system in the city- Alabama A&M University's "Bulldog Transit System," obviously got something right- their ridership numbers (2500-3000 daily) are more on average with cities of Huntsville's size. A city planning subcommittee reviewed plans today for A&M's new bus terminal. The new $250,000 terminal, to be located near the Quad of the university, will begin construction early next year and be completed in the summer.

Huntsville Times blog article: City reviews plans for A&M bus terminal

By the way, UAH's bus terminal/parking garage is showing signs of progress. A crane is up at the construction site at the corner of Ben Graves Dr. and Holmes Ave.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Lincoln Mill rendering from the Huntsville Times

I told you so... This is a rendering of the Lincoln Mill project from the front page of the Saturday Huntsville Times. The bottom right photo is what the mill looks like from the same spot as the rendering, and the old water tower to the left is undergoing a $200,000 refurbishing paid for by the city.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Indian Creek- The Next Providence?

Looking at architects' websites is a good way to find new development, as seen with the Harris Hill project. Look at this mixed-use project, designed by local architect JH Partners. The "New Urbanism" project, dubbed Indian Creek, will include 35 acres of shops, restaurants, residences, and greenspace. It will be located somewhere off Old Monrovia Road near Providence. The development was designed to have a more "small town/pedestrian-friendly" feel than most modern subdivisions, much like Providence.

Commerce Center opens

The Commerce Center, otherwise known as the old SCI "flag" building, opened today after two years and a $12 million renovation. The eight story office building on the western fringe of downtown was redeveloped by The Breland Companies, who develops residential communities in the area and is part of the DeBartolo retail development proposed for 565 and Zierdt Road in Madison.

Huntsville Times blog article

Lincoln Mill Update

Yesterday, I posted a small "hint" in the Huntsville Times about a possible renovation of Lincoln Mill in Northeast Huntsville. Well, today it was announced. Could we see a possible rendering in tomorrow's paper?

The Lincoln Mill building in Northeast Huntsville will be renovated into shops, restaurants, offices, and up to 60 condos selling for $150 to $200 sq ft. Local doctor James Byrne purchased the Lincoln Mill building, and plans to spend $20 million renovating the two remaining buildings. The larger building will be converted to offices/retail on the first floor, while the 2nd and 3rd floors will become condos. The smaller building will have restaurants, retail and possibly an "independent movie theater."

Huntsville Times article

UPDATE of the update: The architect's website, http://www.mathenygoldmon.com/, shows a rendering of a "mixed use development along a major access corridor to downtown Huntsville." This is most likely the Lincoln Mill project; if not, we might have another project coming soon...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Decatur Mall renovation planned

The new owners of Decatur Mall (formerly Colonial Mall Decatur) plan a "large scale renovation" of the mall, which opened in the 1970s and is slowly losing tenants. Dillard's plans to consolidate their spaces at the mall in January. The renovation plans could be announced in May, according to Atlanta-based mall manager Jones Long LaSalle.

Decatur Daily article: Renovations in store for Decatur Mall

Possible second phase for Crossings of Decatur

The Crossings of Decatur might have a second phase that will include another large anchor. GBT Realty of Nashville, the developer of the Target-anchored Crossings, is considering buying land adjacent to the shopping center, owned by the Morgan County Board of Education, for a 117,724 sq. ft. addition to the development, which opened in October. One possible tenant- Kohl's. The big-box store was planned for the first phase but disappeared from the plans.

Decatur Daily article: Crossings II possible if price is right

Possible Lincoln Mill development?

The Huntsville Times in Thursday's paper hinted at a possible mixed-use development planned for the Lincoln Mill building off Meridian Street north of downtown. The proposed project could include residential, office, and retail space. The surrounding neighborhood has been slowly revitalized in recent years, though not as fast as adjacent Five Points.

Ovation project may not happen

The controversial second phase of the Big Spring Summit project, dubbed "Ovation", may not happen at all. Triad Properties, the developer, has until February 8 to find a restaurant tenant that will occupy at least 3,000 sq. ft. for the first phase, the Summit office building, or the city will terminate Triad's lease of the site of the proposed Ovation, which would be an 8 story building with over 40 condos and retail space overlooking Big Spring Park.

Huntsville Times: Summit Project may be finished

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"Rocket City Reloads" from the Birmingham News

Huntsville's downtown renaissance has caught the attention of the Birmingham News. The article discusses upcoming projects like Constellation, 200 Park Tower, the Art Museum expansion, and the VBC renovation.

Speaking of the VBC renovation/expansion plans, what's in store for the $15-20 million project? Here's what the article says about it:

"The civic center also plans to spend up to $20 million on renovation projects and expansion in the next few years. Highlights include doubling the size of the women's restrooms, adding 1,000 floor seats in the arena for concerts, renovating concession stands, adding a mini cafe, and replacing walls along the southeast side of the arena to give a view from the cafe and concourse of Big Spring Park.

About $4 million for those projects has come from a special tax district set up to fund projects in the downtown area. City officials are working to get the other $12 million to $16 million for the work, including a look at selling naming rights to parts of the civic center."

You can read the whole article here.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Nordstrom coming to Alabama

I went a little out of the Huntsville area today for this story, but the announcement that Nordstrom is coming to Riverchase Galleria in Hoover is something Alabama shoppers have been waiting for years to hear. The store is expected to open in 2012 (it's Nordstrom's tradition to announce stores years ahead) in the old Macy's anchor spot. With this announcement in Birmingham, expect to hear an announcement soon of a Nordstrom for Nashville (probably at Green Hills).

With all this said, is Nordstrom (or any other high-end department store) coming to Huntsville? I don't see them coming anytime soon. However, with the openings at Bridge Street, we will have an amazing amount of high-end retail that most cities of our size can only dream of. So maybe it won't be too far off.

There is one exception- Macy's. It is very possible that this chain will enter the Huntsville market in the next few years. Here are four spots that Macy's might move in:
  1. The former Belk anchor spot in Madison Square Mall
  2. Bridge Street (doubt this, but we'll hear soon about who really is going to be the still-unannounced large anchors)
  3. The DeBartolo Development at Zierdt/565
  4. Future expansion of Parkway Place

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Target, Dicks, JCPenney confirmed by "The Investigators"

WAFF 48 got a copy of the Harris Hill plan as well. They confirm that Target, Old Navy, JCPenney, and Dick's Sporting Goods are some of the tenants expected to come to the center when it opens in 2009. And they say there's going to be not one, but two hotels. But as in typical local news, they get at least one fact wrong-Harris Hill will NOT be a "mall" as it says in the story- it will be a mixed-use development. Basically, Harris Hill will be Jones Valley, Bridge Street, and Providence combined in one mega-project.
Here's a link to the story with a video included:

Monday, November 26, 2007

Crestwood wins bid for Madison hospital

WHNT-TV reports that a judge has ruled in favor of Crestwood Medical Center for their proposal to build a hospital in fast-growing Madison County. They beat their larger rival Huntsville Hospital in the bid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Huntsville Planning Board Meeting Review- November 20

The Huntsville Planning Board looked over what could be over 1,000 new residences for the city on Tuesday; most were single-family lots, but there was one condo development proposed off Chaney Thompson Rd. in Southeast. Other notable events:
  • The Constellation development downtown had a resubdivision proposal on the agenda. By the way, construction has just begun on the two hotels, a Spring Hill Suites and a Courtyard Inn. The hotels could be the first part that will be completed, possibly in 2009.
  • In smaller development news, a Sonic restaurant is planned for an outparcel of the Wal-Mart Supercenter on Sparkman Drive. This will be a relocation of the current location on North Parkway, just north of the store.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another Broken Egg Cafe Opens

Another Broken Egg Cafe, a familiar restaurant for residents of Louisiana and the Florida panhandle, has opened a restaurant in Jones Valley. It is the first one in Alabama. The restaurant specializes in breakfast. More locations are expected in Birmingham and Atlanta.

Another Broken Egg Cafe Restaurant

New Fire/Police Station in West Downtown

The city tomorrow will authorize a construction company to build a new Fire Station 1/West Police Precinct on Clinton Avenue west of the Parkway. The $5.25 million, 33,000 sq ft building will provide space for ladder trucks, which isn't possible at the current location next to Big Spring Park. This is part of the city's plan to expand the downtown area, which is much smaller than an average one for a city our size.

Rendering of new Fire/Police Station
Huntsville Times article

New Hampton Inn for Big Cove

The Hampton Inn and Suites will be at 431 and Caldwell Lane, just north of Hampton Cove. The 4-story hotel will open in Fall 2008. The developer, Hospitality Group LLC of Huntsville, plans a 31-acre project with retail, offices, and restaurants. No word yet on any specific tenants.

Huntsville Times article

Sunday, November 18, 2007

New Hampton Cove Development

We should learn more about this tomorrow in the Huntsville Times, but here's what I know about this development in Hampton Cove:

The retail-office-hotel project is being developed by Dr. Roger Stanmore of Huntsville. The hotel, a 94-room Hampton Inn and Suites, will be managed by Integral Hospitality Solutions. The hotel is expected to open sometime next year, possibly in the spring (though I really doubt that unless they are already working on it). The size of the project, as revealed in the Business section of Sunday's Huntsville Times, will be 31 acres.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Take proposed plans with a grain of salt...

The Harris Hills retail plan I posted this morning is not the finalized plan. There is still lots of planning to do and leases have to be signed before anything is set in stone. For example, look at this proposed merchant plan for Bridge Street back in April 2006. Of the stores that have been announced, less than 30 of the nearly 60 proposed tenants have located or are locating in Bridge Street. Two of the proposed tenants- Amsouth and Wild Oats- don't exist anymore due to mergers. So keep that in mind while you're rejoicing over how you don't have to ever go over Chapman Mountain to shop ever again. :)

Harris Hill Tenant Plan

Somebody on the Citydata.com forum leaked the Harris Hill site plan, though if you go to the architect's website, you can see the small logo of a SuperTarget. But here's the site plan (PDF file). The planned tenants:

Bed Bath and Beyond
World Market
Hobby Lobby
Toys R Us
Pier One
Shoe Carnival
Old Navy
Lane Bryant
Barnes and Noble
Dick's Sporting Goods
Best Buy

A hotel is also planned along with a Cinemark movie theater and a small lifestyle center along a "river walk."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Huntsville Hotel Boom

With the news recently that the Huntsville area will gain over 1,400 hotel rooms by 2010, here's a list of the hotels being proposed/built in the area right now:

In Madison:
Baymont Inn and Suites (under construction)
Best Western Inn and Suites (proposed)
La Quinta Inn and Suites (proposed)
2 hotels at the DeBartolo development (proposed)

West Huntsville:
Cambria Suites (proposed)
Comfort Inn (December opening?)
Value Place (under construction, open in 2008)
Westin Huntsville (Open in April 2008)
Hotel at the Paramount Place development (proposed)
Hotel at the Providence development (proposed)- possibly the Cambria
Hotel at Redstone Technology Park (proposed)
Towne Place Suites by Marriott (open in December)

South Huntsville/Hampton Cove:
Hilton Garden Inn (under construction)
Hampton Inn and Suites-Hampton Cove (proposed)
Possible hotel in Jones Valley (proposed)

East Huntsville:
Hotel in Harris Hill development (proposed)

Courtyard by Marriott (under construction, 2009 opening)
Spring Hill Suites by Marriott (under construction, 2009 opening)

Comcast to add 200 jobs for Research Park call center

Comcast today announced a new 37,000 sq. ft. call center to be located at the Technology Point office development on Old Madison Pike. The center will serve a five state region, and is expected to be complete by next September. Huntsville Times

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Development Rundown

To the best of my ability, I will list each development that I have learned about in the past two months as a way to "catch up" readers with what is going on.

October, 2007
October 2, 2007- 200 Park Tower-
The 10 story office building on Courthouse Square, now known as 200 West Court Square, was built in the 1960s. It will be completely renovated by its new owners. The bottom floor will be converted to retail space, while the top floors will be changed to condos. The rest will be renovated as office space. The new name will be 200 Park Tower, and construction won't begin until 2009 at the earliest.

Early October- Tower cranes seen at Huntsville International, construction of a new 6-level parking garage underway. Also, a Baymont Inn and Suites is spotted coming soon next to Cracker Barrel at Exit 8 on 565. This is one of the five hotels proposed

October 12, 2007- VBC Arena renovations-
The Von Braun Center is finalizing plans for a long-needed arena expansion and renovation to begin in 2008. The estimated cost will be $12-16 million. The plans will be finished in December.

October 15, 2007- Shelby Center for Science and Technology- New $50 million science and math building for UAH opens at ceremony. Classes begin there in January 2008.

October 19, 2007- Westin Huntsville- Expected to open April 1, 2008, according to their website.

October 24, 2007- DeBartolo Development showcases their 1.6 million square ft. Peaks at Southchase development at a convention in Atlanta. John Blue Realty advertises their new retail center in Jones Valley- St. James Place- and Streets of Madison, a new retail development behind the Kroger on Hughes Road.

October 24, 2007- 218 Randolph Place- 10-story luxury condo tower proposed for a site near the Courthouse Square. Hasn't been announced yet officially. (click link for the rendering I found)

October 25, 2007- Wolf Ridge Properties hints at a 400-acre development in Madison, possibly at the interchange of County Line Road and 565.

October 25, 2007- Decatur annexes land for a 400-lot residential development near 65, spurred by BRAC growth.

October 25, 2007- Walker Hill- a 400 acre mixed use development proposed for Meridianville near Steger Road. 625 homes and a 150-acre commercial development are proposed.

October 31, 2007- Mayor Loretta Spencer's State of the City address hints at further development downtown- a parking garage and a new restaurant. Also hints that Cracker Barrel is planning to build more restaurants in the area.

November 2007
November 1, 2007- Bridge Street opens with 19 stores. More stores will open throughout the holiday season. Three more anchor tenants will be revealed by Thanksgiving.

November 4, 2007- Cheesecake Factory and Hard Rock Cafe will NOT be tenants at Constellation, a new mixed use development downtown anchored by two hotels.

November 5, 2007- The Streets of Madison announced. It will be a 57 acre residential/commercial development that will resemble a historic district like the French Quarter. Will be located behind the Kroger on Hughes Road.

November 6, 2007- Hamburger chain Five Guys Burgers and Fries will open two locations in Huntsville- in Jones Valley and at University/Enterprise Dr. The chain, which originated in the DC area, is also opening a location in Decatur at the Crossings (Target) shopping center.

November 9, 2007- HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology opens. This multi-million dollar facility will house 1600 workers when complete, and a number of small biotech firms.

November 10, 2007- Parking Garage D- A 5-6 level parking deck proposed for the intersection of Holmes and Green, or next to the Times building. 10,000 sq. ft of retail on the first floor is planned, with a grocery store and sandwich shop as possible tenants.

November 10, 2007- Hotel boom- Huntsville saw a 15% increase in the number of hotel rooms since 2005, and the growth isn't stopping. There 21 hotels proposed or under construction in Madison County as of Nov. 14, and the city could have 7,000 hotel rooms by 2010 (there are 5,620 now).

November 11, 2007- Harris Hill- The first major mixed use development for Northeast Huntsville. The 600-acre project will include 200 acres of greenspace and up to 1 million sq ft of retail, residential, office, and hotel space. The first phase, with a large shopping center and a hotel, will begin next year. Target will very likely be the anchor for this project.

November 13, 2007- Huntsville International Airport considers $13.2M expansion contract to expand the waiting area as part of their $65M plan to expand and upgrade the airport. An expanded food area with a McAlister's Deli will open next year.

November 14, 2007- Marco's Pizza to open a location on 72 West, in the Irwin Square shopping center under construction. It will be the first store in Alabama for the small Italian pizza chain from Toledo, OH. The company has plans to open 7 more stores throughout North Alabama.

November 14, 2007- Publix opens in Meridianville. This is the 8th location for the grocery chain in the Huntsville area, and four more are proposed or under construction.

...and this is where I will begin.