Comments are welcome (positive or negative), but any self-advertisements or irrelevant posts will be deleted.

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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Madison Medical Office Building

I found yet another Madison project today. This is a medical office building planned for 72 West next to the proposed Madison Hospital. The 4-story, 72,000 sq. ft. building being developed by EDT Real Estate of Marietta, GA will be located just east (or just west, if somehow Crestwood successfully appeals the State Health Board's decision) of the proposed hospital. The tentative completion date is next year; however, I think that will be pushed back to around the time the hospital actually opens, which could be years from now. Please note that the above rendering may not be the real deal-- it says "Paulding Physicians Center" on the top of the building.

UAH expansion update

UAH president David Williams described some of the expansions the university will undertake in the next few years in the Exponent, the student paper. With the student population now at 7,400 (10,000 are expected by 2013) and the Five Year Plan (created in 2005) almost complete, the university is looking at other projects to expand the university and make it more of a "traditional" campus. This year, the university is doing renovations on two academic halls (Wilson and Madison), and next month will mark the completion of the campus intermodal center/parking garage, which will enable the university to eliminate some parking lots and replace them with greenspace. Williams said that plans for the long-term will include building dorms for 600-700 more students and a second student union/cafeteria food court to accomodate the influx of freshmen and sophomores that will be required to live on campus by 2010.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gold's Gym planned for Madison

Anybody remember the old Gold's Gym that used to be at Marketsquare downtown? It closed a couple of years ago when the mall was being torn down to make way for Constellation. Well, it looks like the fitness center chain is coming back to the area, and their first store appears to be coming to Madison according to this site plan on the city of Madison's website. It will be located on Wall-Triana just north (or behind) of the Star Market shopping center. The owner of the center is a franchise company located in Columbus, GA. Gold's Gym currently has 10 locations in Alabama.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Publix opening 10th store in region; 11th coming

Publix continues its rapid re-expansion in the Huntsville-Decatur area with their 10th store opening tomorrow (Wednesday) in Harvest. And #11 isn't too far behind-- that store's going to Athens at the new East Side Junction development at US 72 and Lindsay Lane, with an opening later this year. The past few years have seen the Florida grocery chain grow past Kroger to become the clear market leader, with new stores in Riverton/Mt. Carmel, Meridianville, West Madison, and now Harvest. Publix opened its first store (the first outside of Atlanta and Florida) in 1996. Now, if they'd put a location in downtown Huntsville....

Monday, August 18, 2008

Watercress update

The "Watercress" development at US72 and Jeff Road in West Huntsville is moving along, at least with obtaining city approval. On the agenda for next week's planning meeting is a subdivision of the project area and 324 planned apartment units. Also on the agenda are over 1000 other planned apartment units and a resubdivision of a possible grocery-anchored shopping center site at Zierdt and Martin Roads.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

WaterStone: a more in-depth look

The summer lull in development news appears to be over. The $1 billion Wann Springs development proposed on County Line Road in Madison is now called WaterStone, and a website is now up with more in-depth plans. Also, the groundbreaking has been delayed for federal approval, and will probably happen late this year.

With the website now up, we can now look further into what is planned for WaterStone. See also the land-use plan I posted on here a couple months back, which in some ways is a better representation of the final product. Here's a "conceptual master plan" posted on the website:
Retail CenterNow, here's a close-up of the retail center portion of the project. The plans for this portion of the development:
  • A suburban retail strip, with 2-3 junior anchors and one big-box anchor. Target would be the best bet for the big-box, considering the Madison area will already have 2 Wal-Mart Supercenters before this project is built. For one of the junior anchors? Barnes and Noble. They like to be near lifestyle centers (discussed later).
  • A grocery store. Publix just opened a store about 3 1/2 miles north of the WaterStone site. Kroger has an older, yet recently renovated store about 4 1/2 miles northeast, but it might be far enough away to warrant a new store. The store that's going to occupy this space is anybody's guess.
  • A movie theater.
  • A open-air lifestyle center, with probably 20-30 stores similar to the ones at Bridge Street. Probably no new names to the metro, but ones that are traditional lifestyle center tenants-- Ann Taylor Loft, Chico's, Coldwater Creek, Bath & Body Works, etc.
Town Center

Ok, so I had a little fun with this picture. But if my lines are too confusing for you, here's a text summary:
  • Two 4-5 story condo buildings adjacent to the lake.
  • A civic (municipal) building. I'm guessing Madison wants to build city government offices here.
  • Two art gallery/education buildings and a performing arts center. This part of the project is at best "iffy." Remember when Bridge Street had plans for a performing arts center?
  • The true town center area will have buildings with retail on the bottom floor and offices on the upper floors, with a common area in the middle.
  • Two waterfront buildings will have retail on the bottom floor, like the town center, but with condos/lofts on the upper floors instead of offices.
Everything Else
  • An office park with up to 2 million sq. ft. of space. This might come in handy when and if BRAC comes.
  • A 66-acre medical park with 1 million sq. ft. of space. It is odd that they are dedicating such a large tract to medical purposes when there isn't a hospital proposed here. The planned Madison Hospital will be located on 72 West.
  • An 800-unit apartment complex.
  • A 150-200 room "limited-service, extended stay" hotel. Example brands: Staybridge Suites, Homewood Suites, Hyatt Place.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Downtown Springhill Suites groundbreaking scheduled for Wednesday

The first of two hotels in downtown's Constellation project, a SpringHill Suites by Marriott, will break ground on Wednesday, according to developer Scott McLain. The 130-room, 6-story hotel is the first element of a much-anticipated mixed-use development, which will include another, almost-identical hotel (a Courtyard by Marriott), a 160-unit condo/apartment high-rise (at one time ~15 floors, but probably toned down because of the city's reluctance to change the height limit restrictions; the election could change this), retail and restaurants, and office space. McLain said that the Courtyard and condos will be next to begin construction, and additional retail/restaurant tenants will be announced soon as well; he said that he hopes to recruit a "green grocer," meaning a Whole Foods-or-similar-type store. The estimated completion of the project is now at least three years out.

Huntsville Times

In May, the Times also reported that the Courtyard had changed brands to Residence Inn, and that the condo building would be apartments. But in Saturday's Times article linked above, McLain said that he was on the "29th plan" for the project, meaning that he's changed it 28 times. Confused yet? Check out some of the older renderings for the project I found over a year ago:

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sweetwater in trouble.... again

Yes, you have heard this before. John Q. Hammons has once again pulled out of the Sweetwater project in southern Limestone County. He told The Huntsville Times earlier this year that he had pulled out of the project, citing problems with getting incentives. Hammons was hospitalized in Springfield, MO, earlier this month, creating doubt of his company's continued involvement with the $1.3 billion project. Sweetwater's developers claim that they are in talks with three other hotel developers. Also, the proposed 250-room hotel and conference center has been scaled down to 150 rooms.

Note: Bass Pro Shops will not build a store until a hotel deal has been finalized, which means that its already-delayed groundbreaking of October will probably be moved back again. At least most of the political hurdles have been cleared-- the Decatur City Council approved the project late last month.

Huntsville Times article