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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.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Peaks planning resurrection?

The Peaks at Southchase, a massive and somewhat controversial development at the intersection of Zierdt Road and I-565, is apparently moving along after almost a year of hearing nothing about the project. Plans still call for the 263-acre development to feature a "regional" lifestyle center along with offices and "possible" residential space. And even though there were rumors earlier this year that DeBartolo Development, one of the companies behind the project, was backing out, the plans are still on their website, though they are terribly out of date. The new planned groundbreaking date is July of next year.

DeBartolo Development's Project Website for the Peaks

Thursday, October 23, 2008

VBC Expansion/Renovation Continues

The long-awaited $15 million expansion/renovation of the VBC Arena will begin this spring after the city council unanimously approved the proposal. The "new" arena will be called the Propst Arena, after the family that donated $5 million toward the project. The expansion includes more restrooms, a grill pub facing the Embassy Suites, and more luxury/sky boxes. Matheny and Goldmon Architects worked with Rosetti Architects out of Detroit for the design.

Huntsville Times article

A renovation of the concert hall was announced last month.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Councill Court demolition begins today

Councill Court, the 1950s-era public housing project near the public library on St. Clair Avenue, is finally about to see its demise. A partial demolition will start today to make way for a 4-story senior housing complex called Gateway Place (see rendering below). But this will only take up part (the area East of Gallatin Street) of the housing project's 13-acre footprint. The rest will be sold, hopefully to developers who could use the land (estimated at around $20 million) to bridge the gap between downtown and the Medical District. Some of the ideas being thrown around: more hotels, office space, and moderately-priced apartments/condos.

Another housing project might meet the wrecking ball soon. Sparkman Homes, a project you might know by its infamous former name Mason Court, is expected to be redeveloped as well. Its location on Holmes Avenue between UAH and downtown might make it a great spot for student apartments. (hint, hint?)

Huntsville Times

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sidewalk dining comes to Southside Square

Longtime local auto dealer Jeff Sikes has stepped into the restaurant business with a new European-themed "contemporary American" restaurant called Cotton Row (not to be confused with Cotton Row Market, which was a short-lived establishment next to Humphrey's a couple of years ago). It is scheduled to open this week on Southside Square downtown, according to the Huntsville Times. So, what's so special about this restaurant? The prospect of it prompted the city to lift a ban on outdoor dining a couple of years ago. The building it is housed in-- renovated by Sikes-- was also part of the first phase of a city "sidewalk revitalization project" that never really went anywhere.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Madison Lakes, hotel go before Madison Planning Board

As promised, here's an update on the Madison Lakes development proposed at the SE corner of Brownsferry and County Line in Madison. A public hearing to discuss the rezoning of the land is on the Madison Planning Board's agenda for tomorrow night's meeting. Below are some new renderings from the city's website. As of now, the plans include:
  • A retail center with the usual neighborhood businesses anchored by a grocery store. What chain? This area seems to be saturated in traditional grocery stores; Publix, Kroger, and Wal-Mart will have a presence in West Madison before this is finished. But there are no upscale grocery stores on this side of town, so this might be an opportunity for a chain like Fresh Market to put another location in the area.
  • A town center with some small retail, restaurants, lofts, and a couple of office buildings (some of them will be for medical purposes).
  • The southern half of the development will be multi-family residential, such as condos and townhouses, plus a nature preserve/park.
  • A 120-150 room "limited service hotel." The plans conflict on the number of rooms. The brand is anyone's guess- a limited service hotel is any hotel without a restaraunt, meaning it could be anything from a Motel 6 to a Hilton Garden Inn. It will probably be on the more upacale part of that spectrum.
And speaking of hotels, a 4-story Comfort Inn and Suites is also on the Planning Board agenda. It will be located on the south side of Madison Blvd. between Wal-Mart and Hughes Road.

UPDATE: The Madison Planning Board meeting scheduled for October 16th was rescheduled to October 23rd.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Providence still expanding despite economic downturn

In the current issue of the Town Paper, a publication that features and promotes TND's (Traditional Neighborhood Developments), Providence developer David Slyman talks about future expansion plans for the community, which is approximately 33% complete. In the spring of 2009, work will begin on apartments that will go for around $950/month. Also, plans for the long-rumored grocery store seem to be coming together:

A major grocer is ‘getting it,’” said Slyman. “They’re trying a new design for their next building, one that should fit into Providence. They want to be involved in the fabric of our small town.

Back in April, Slyman said that a Whole Foods Market "or equivalent" would be a "good bet" for the proposed grocery store. While a Whole Foods might still be in the cards for Providence, I think an even better candidate is Asheville, NC-based EarthFare, which has 15 locations in the Southeast, with the first Alabama location opening in Auburn later this year. And, in 2009, the chain will open a new "yet to be revealed" urban prototype store in the Bearden neighborhood of Knoxville.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Madison Commons: The Martin/Zierdt Development

Earlier today, I was out on Zierdt Road checking out a proposed "grocery-anchored shopping center" that I've gotten a couple of emails about. Recently, the site has been prepared for the development, but work has stopped recently. This is probably because the project is awaiting city approval, along with a building permit, which could take weeks. But I found some new info about the development this afternoon that should keep you occupied until construction begins...

First off, the development is called Madison Commons. If you live in the area, you probably know by now that it is being developed by Michael Collard Properties, an Orlando-area developer who, according to their website, has developed many grocery-anchored and pharmacy projects throughout Florida. Most of their grocery-anchored developments include a Publix, but with one only 3 miles away, whether or not they will build one here is up in the air-- a Kroger or some new chain isn't out of the question.

Madison Commons will be a 110,000 sq. ft. shopping center with a 45,000 sq. ft. grocery store, a 30,000 sq. ft. junior anchor (clothing store?), and about 36,000 sq. ft of smaller shops and restaurants. There are also six outparcels for banks, fast-food, etc; one of them (at the corner of Martin and Zierdt) will be a CVS/Pharmacy.

There are also plans for 300 apartments and 450 other residential units next to Madison Commons, along with a possible city park. Those are in addition to the 6700 residences proposed or under construction within a 5-mile radius of the development. This turns out to be an estimated 15-20,000 people moving to this side of town; there is no doubt this shopping center will have a demand.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sports Authority opening at Bridge Street

The first tenant has been announced for the second phase of Bridge Street Town Centre. Sports Authority will build a 42,000 sq. ft. store in a strip of anchors planned across the street (Governors West) from the lifestyle center, and is planned to open next fall. This will be Sports Authority's first Huntsville store. The athletic store chain also has stores in Atlanta, Montgomery, and Memphis.

This is the first of three additional anchors planned for the second phase of Bridge Street. Original plans called for a Linens n' Things, Circuit City, and a larger anchor (department store?). Fortunately, it seems these stores' recent financial troubles forced them out of the project; this would have left one of the strip centers across from Madison Square on University completely vacant.

Sports Authority
Huntsville Times article