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Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009 Development: A Look Ahead

So, now that the new year is here, what can we expect this year in developments? Here's a "brief" list of my predictions, moving roughly west to east for no reason:
  • The "Water" mega-developments, Sweetwater and WaterStone- both of these projects are unrealistically large as proposed, especially in this economy. Expect them to be downsized. Sweetwater will become merely an outlet center, but Bass Pro Shops will remain. There's no way 2,700 single-family homes can be sold 25 miles away from Huntsville! Plus, that's just wasteful sprawl. WaterStone will probably keep much of its retail portion, but scrap its medical and some of its office plans, and hopefully some of its massive parking lots...
  • Madison developments- Colonial Promenade (the Wal-Mart on 72 West) will definitely break ground early this year; Academy Sports could be announced as its secondary anchor. Madison Lakes and The Peaks are more iffy on their timelines, with both scheduled for "mid-2009."
  • More on 72 West- Watercress will probably break ground on its apartment portion early this year, with the retail portion (a Kroger or other grocery-anchored shopping center) coming later. And will Providence residents get their urban-ish grocery store at long last-- will it be Whole Foods, EarthFare, or something different? And, more importantly, where's Mellow Mushroom!? Hopefully they'll stick to their April deadline.
  • Research Park- More office developments, go figure. Phase II of Bridge Street, with a Sports Authority as an anchor, will at least partially open. Just to the south next to Redstone Arsenal, a hotel/office/retail project by mall developer Jim Wilson and Associates has a good chance of getting off the ground this year.
  • Downtown/Center City- Hopefully 2009 will treat downtown much better than 2008. The height limits that have choked projects in the CBD will be eased/lifted, opening the door for several developments to get off the ground. If that happens, the plans for Constellation and Councill Court will become clearer, and some high-rises will be announced. A major VBC expansion/renovation project will begin in the spring. Also, expect more gentrification projects in the Lincoln, Merrimack, Lowe, and Five Points neighborhoods.
  • East Huntsville- Probably the most frequently e-mailed question: What happened to Harris Hill- is it dead? No. It's not. A major tenant announcement could come early in the year just to keep nosy people like myself occupied, with construction starting in the fall at the earliest. And a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter at Shields and 72 will be "officially" announced.
  • Metro-wide: A resurgence of Kroger. Dunkin Donuts returns to Huntsville after a decade-long absence. At least six new hotels.


Dave Stewart said...

Thanks for your updates as usual.

However, under Madison Developments, I wouldn't consider the Colonial Promenade as Madison as it resides in Huntsville.

tony said...

james, any idea on when the walmart announcement will be made on shields and 72?

Anonymous said...

While I agree That Sweetwater will be scaled back and 2700 new homes is unrealisticit is not 25 miles from Huntsville--it is about 6 miles from Madison and about 10 miles to Research Park--were most of the jobs in Huntsville are--oh and guess what-some of the people who might buy homes there might actually work some where other than Huntsville--Decatur-Athens. Huntsville is not where everyone wants to be. Jeez I hate Huntsville. Little town pretending to be a big city.

Anonymous said...

Oh horrors! Why would anyone want to be 25 WHOLE MILES from Huntsville? Remember...Sweetwater is in DECATUR. Yes, it is in Decatur's city limits. And believe it or not, Decatur has quite a bit of industry and quite a few jobs, whose occupants need somewhere to live. I know most Huntsville residents have never set foot in Decatur and truly believe Decatur is just suburban tracts full of Huntsville jobholders. T'ain't true.

James said...

Ok, seems I have ticked a few Decatur people off. First off, Sweetwater is also in Limestone County, which is in the Huntsville MSA. Second, 2700 homes is a lot, even for Huntsville-- Hampton Cove, the largest residential development in Madison County, has little more than half that. And I know people work in Athens and Decatur. But the demand just isn't there for that many homes... especially since there are better places to live closer to all three cities. It's just wasteful to have such a sprawling development anywhere these days.

Anonymous said...

Is the proposed "Sweetwater" development supposed to be an actual outlet mall type of a deal? Such as you would find in Seiverville, TN and in Foley, AL???

starfaz said...

FWIW... I didn't see it specifically in the blog, but according to one of the construction workers, the building at the corner of Westchester and Madison Blvd (next to the new La Quinta) is another hotel... Country Suite & Inns. I want my Dunkin Donuts! :-)