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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, February 27, 2009

St. James Place cancelled

Another proposal has given in to the bad economy. The 6.5 acre site slated for St. James Place, a planned 80,000 sq. ft. retail-office project on Cecil Ashburn Drive in Jones Valley, is now back on the market for $4.5 million.

Friday, February 20, 2009

City soliciting proposals for downtown site

The city is moving forward with soliciting plans to build a mixed-use "signature tower," and a location has now been cited as a surface parking lot at the northwest corner of Holmes and Jefferson. The project could be coupled with a parking garage (one of the "stimulus" garages?) if the winning developer chooses to do so. This is a very underdeveloped part of downtown, and being relatively far away from residential areas shouldn't create too much controversy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Bridge Street creating Urban Outfitters petition

Bridge Street Town Centre has created a website in an attempt to gauge support for an Urban Outfitters store in Huntsville: http://www.wewanturbanoutfitters.com/. As some of you might recall, a similar attempt was made by Bridge Street a few years ago for a Wild Oats grocery store at the lifestyle center. Soon after, Wild Oats announced its merger with Whole Foods, and the new mega-organic grocery store chain has no current plans for Huntsville for the next 2-3 years, according to several inquiries by the Times and the Whole Foods website.

Personally, I think if Urban Outfitters wanted to locate a store in Huntsville, it would look for/prefer a more "urban" location than Bridge Street (Constellation developers, you guys listening?). Nashville's Urban Outfitters, for example, is opening next month in the Gulch, a growing cluster of high-rise condos between the CBD and West End. By the way, Urban Outfitters' "suburban" sibling, Anthropologie, is already at Bridge Street.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Downtown Height Limits Revisited

So, after months of talking about grocery stores (yawn), it's time to talk about downtown again. A public meeting will be held tonight (5:30) at City Hall to discuss the CBD's 10-story height limit restrictions, which many (including myself) believe are too strict, and have more than likely killed some projects. The Planning Commission approved the restrictions in 2006, and the city council put off revising the rules during the Spencer administration. Current mayor Tommy Battle seems to be more open to changing the limits, and has made several references to a "signature tower."

Due to a previous commitment, I was not able to attend the meeting. But according to the Times, it seemed to be lively yet productive. The planning department will revise the height limits to include 2-4 story buffer zones in areas that are adjacent to residential zones, a 6-story height limit in the area where this development is proposed, and take out the 10-story limit in the remainder of the CBD. I can live with that.

Here's a new map with the proposed changes. This map is in no way official, and I cannot claim to its accuracy. There are probably some pockets of residential areas that I missed. Hopefully sometime soon the city or the Times will create a better map of the affected areas and put it on the web. But until then, here's the best of what 15 minutes on Google Maps can do:

I've divided the CBD into four zones: Blue Zone, Purple Zone, Green Zone, and Red Zone.
Red Zone: The areas abutting a residential area. Building heights restricted to 2 floors (30 ft.).
Purple Zone: The areas across the street from a residential area. Building heights restricted to 4 floors (60 ft).
Green Zone: A special 6-story height limit for a proposed public-private development (see below).
Blue Zone: The remainder of the CBD, or roughly Greene St. westward. Building heights unrestricted(?).

Areas in question
  • The area of homes and businesses between downtown and the Medical District. West of Gallatin looks like it will be mostly blue. East of Gallatin, however, will be a mix of everything. It would be no surprise to me if this area is redeveloped in the future as a "Midtown" area of sorts with more relaxed restrictions of 6-10 floors.
  • The housing projects northwest of the CBD. For now, they probably fall under red zone restrictions, but with their redevelopment coming soon, I just left them in the blue zone for simplicity's sake.