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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.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Another Hotel for Madison Boulevard

Tonight's Madison Planning Commission meeting discussed plans for a 4-story, 93-room Holiday Inn Express to be built on Madison Boulevard just west of the Wall-Triana/Sullivan intersection. The lot is located next to the Regions Bank branch and is currently occupied by a vacant building. The building will remain (and, I assume, be renovated) and the hotel will be built behind it. Construction should begin sometime this fall.

A hotel has been planned for this lot for a while now; originally, it was going to be a Best Western Inn and Suites. This will be the third hotel built along Madison Boulevard in the past two years-- a LaQuinta Inn and Suites and a Country Inn and Suites were built next to each other further west. A fourth-- a Comfort Inn and Suites-- is planned further east along the corridor, across from Walmart.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another hotel for Research Park?

A local developer is planning to build a hotel off of Governors West in Research Park, according to the city's Zoning Board agenda for this month. Expect this hotel to be more business-oriented than your average highway-exit Comfort Inn (aloft maybe?). No word on when construction will begin.

This would only be the second hotel within the boundaries of Research Park-- the other, of course, is the Westin Huntsville at Bridge Street. Speaking of Bridge Street, one of their expansion plans is to build a five-star hotel, sometime in the future.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

'Madison Growth Plan' coming

The Madison City Council on Monday night (July 12th) will discuss hiring Atlanta-based design firm Urban Collage to create a "Madison Growth Plan." This growth plan will use public meetings and workshops (charrettes) to identify "key development areas" within the city, and create a master plan for each of them. Urban Collage has created master plans for Garner, NC (outside of Raleigh) and Prattville, along with several other towns; it lists Chattanooga and Atlanta among their client cities.

What's so significant about this? Madison has realized that it's running out of land. Surrounded on three sides by Huntsville, with the exception of East Limestone, there's nowhere else to go. In order to remain vibrant, Madison's going to have to densify and look into "infill" development-- a concept that a suburb of 40,000 normally doesn't have to worry about.

But don't worry, Madison! Becoming more urban is the next logical step for a city that has only become significant within the past thirty years. It's also an exciting opportunity; for example, maybe now the city will develop an actual downtown. If done right, this will mean more retail and entertainment opportunities for Madison, which will bring more tax revenue, which (theoretically) will go back into improving the city's outdated infrastructure (e.g. the roads that have remained mostly unchanged since the boom began in the '80s).

The growth plan should come up with some cool concepts and ideas on how to wisely develop the last large parcels of land in the city, along with some underused areas (like along Hughes Road near Madison Boulevard). Expect these plans to be walkable and mixed-use. In other words, very un-Madison.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June 2010 on Twitter and Facebook

Get these updates quicker by following my Twitter and/or Facebook feeds.

June 3: Charming Charlie, a women's store (similar to Claire's, I think) is opening its first Huntsville store in Parkway Place, next to Williams-Sonoma on the lower level.

June 10: Save-a-Lot, which has building grocery stores like crazy this year in central Alabama, will open a store in Athens in the Peebles shopping center. Save-a-Lot has one Huntsville store at Pulaski and Mastin Lake. But with an expansion plan to have over 100 stores in Alabama (up from about 20) over the next few years, expect one in your area soon.

June 15: The City of Huntsville is conducting visual, written, and online surveys to determine who uses the greenway system. If you use a city greenway* and haven't filled one out yet, you have until July 5th to do so. Check out the city's homepage or click here to see the survey.

*Doesn't include Bradford Creek in Madison.

June 22: The bike parking requirement I talked about last month passed the Planning Commission and is headed for an August vote in the City Council. Also, there was an article in the Times about the push to implement Complete Streets in Huntsville. The problem is, there's no money to retrofit existing roads with bike lanes. Also, there are groups of people who don't want bike lanes on their streets (e.g. Holmes Avenue) because they don't want to "attract" bicyclists to their neighborhood. Oh, those sketchy bicyclists...

Also on June 22: 2009 Population Estimate for Huntsville: 179,653-- an increase of 21,437 from 2000. Will the 2010 Census reflect this growth, or will it be a repeat of the 2000 Census, where the estimates for Huntsville were off by over 20,000? We'll have to wait and see...

June 25: The first of several Birmingham-Atlanta High-Speed Rail studies is set to begin, with funding in place. Of course, with the odd way our state government operates, it was Birmingham's Regional Planning Authority, not ALDOT, that provided funding for the study (along with GDOT and the Atlanta Regional Council). Note that even the state's own passenger rail study is being conducted by the Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA). Time to enter the 21st Century, ALDOT; it's not just roads and bridges anymore.

June 29: The Huntsville Shuttle system will be added to Google Transit in the near future, allowing you to route your trips in the area using transit. For 99.9% of us, this won't matter, but it's a good step forward for the system.