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Madison planners OK layout of Villages of Oakland Springs; first Traditional Neighborhood District

Developers for the new neighborhood center project anticipate earth grading for the 349-lot subdivision to begin in two to three months after getting their layout plat approved by the Madison Planning Commission on Thursday.

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At this point, the focus is on working out the technical details of the project’s infrastructure and then following up with getting the single-family homes built, said Ron Roberts, one of the partners developing 157 acres on Huntsville Browns Ferry Road into what’s being called Villages of Oakland Springs.

About 15 acres of that property is dedicated for commercial use, which will be constructed in the same manner as Village of Providence in Northwest Huntsville.

There’s nothing to announce yet on what’s coming on the commercial side of the project because those designs are still being planned, he said.

Roberts’ partner, Todd Slyman, said it could take years to fully develop the retail and office aspect of Oakland Springs, because ultimately, it will be determined by the growth of eastern Limestone County.

“You have to have the population growth in order to get some of those things that happened over in Providence, he said. “But sure, the goal is to have another neighborhood center. The goal is to end up with a similar product.

“Now, is it going to have all the same elements, I don’t know yet. Depends on how things develop out there and how things go. Demand will determine what the retail becomes. As that area grows, we’ll have a better idea of what to bring in there and make that work,” Slyman said.

Asked whether he learned any valuable lessons from developing Providence that might benefit Oakland Springs, Slyman said he couldn’t pinpoint anything specific other than learning the right ways to execute plans, because for the most part, Providence played out as planned.

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“We really haven’t varied from the original plans from the way we originally designed it,” he said. “It’s come together really well. It’s kind of the vision we had from the beginning.”

One popular element of Providence that is already incorporated into layout plat for Oakland Springs is a park-like “common area” in the middle of the subdivision. Providence has used its common area for outdoor concerts and movies. Plans for the common area in Oakland Springs call for green space next to a small lake.

The location is in the middle of cotton fields along an old farm to market road, and it’s about a 1.5 miles from the closest residential subdivision. Still, the location is prime for growth, Slyman said, because it’s minutes away from what families need, such as James Clemens High School, Madison Hospital and Publix.

One of the access points into the subdivision is directly across from where Holladay Road ends at Huntsville Browns Ferry Road

“Holladay Road is a great addition,” Slyman said of the five-lane roadway that begins at U.S. 72. “It’s basically coming right into the project. It’s a five-lane driveway.”

Oakland Springs also is less than two miles from County Line Road to the east and a straight 6.5 miles from the interchange at Interstate 65 to the west.

The planning commission discussed the challenge ahead of providing sufficient roadways for the rapidly growing area of western Madison. The existing county roads are not built for high volume of daily commuters. As part of the Oakland Springs project, the city is asking for 120 feet of right of way for the future widening of Huntsville Browns Ferry Road.

Madison planners OK layout of Villages of Oakland Springs; first Traditional Neighborhood District months away from construction | AL.com.

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Huntsville/Madison County residential median sales price establishes new peak

Click here to view or print the full quarterly report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

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View full sizeHuntsville/Madison County median sales price up 8% from 2nd Quarter 2013. Infograph courtesy of North Al MLS & ACRE. All rights reserved.

Pricing: According to the North Alabama Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the median sales price in the Huntsville/Madison County reached a new peak during the 2nd quarter at $175,633 which is also 8.0 percent from the same quarter in 2013. Historical data indicates that second quarter median price in 2014 increased by 4.9 percent from the most recent 3-year average and 4.0 percent from the 5-year quarterly average (’09-’13).

Supply: The housing inventory average during the second quarter was 3,215 units, an increase of 4.8 percent from the same period in 2013 and .8 percent below the second quarter peak in 2010 (3,240 units). There was 7.1 months of housing supply (6 months considered equilibrium during 2nd quarter) in the second quarter 2014 versus 6.6 months of supply last year, an increase of 7.1 percent. Historical data indicates that the second quarter inventory-to-sales ratio in 2014 decreased 1.4 percent from the 5-year average (7.2 months – best market performance in Alabama during this window) and decreased 2.8 percent from the 3-year average.

Demand: Residential sales during the second quarter by Huntsville standards can only be described as sluggish, a small slip of 2.4 percent compared to the same period a year earlier. The second quarter sales remain 28.7 percent off the peak experienced in 2003 when 1,912 units were sold. Historical data indicates that second quarter sales in 2014 increased by 6.6 percent from the most recent 3-year average (’11-’13) and 5.5 percent from the 5-year quarterly average (’09-’13).

The Huntsville/Madison Residential Quarterly Report is provided compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

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The Huntsville/Madison County Residential Quarterly Report is work product developed in conjunction with the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS to better serve North Alabama consumers. The ACRE monthly report is provided to illustrate the “general” market direction & trends when comparing prior periods with the most current available data. Real estate is local and statistics will fluctuate between areas within a city including subdivisions. ACRE recommends that you consult a local real estate professional for “specific” advice associated with your market.

About ACRE. ACRE was founded in 1996 by the Alabama Real Estate Commissionthe Alabama Association of REALTORS and the Office of the Dean, UA Culverhouse College of Commerce. ACRE is not a state-funded entity, rather its operates in part because of the goodwill & generosity of our statewide ACRE Partners.

Alabama real estate resources & news, please visit our website and our ACRE blog. You can also follow ACRE from our facebook page, just “like” http://www.facebook.com/acreua and/or follow on twitter at @uaacre.

 Huntsville/Madison County Residential Quarterly Report: “2nd quarter median sales price establishes new peak” | AL.com.

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Huntsville Only Alabama city to make ConventionSouth’s 2014 list of the best ‘Southern Hospitality Cities’

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Only one Alabama city made ConventionSouth magazine’s new 2014 list of the best “Southern Hospitality Cities.”

Huntsville, known for its technology, space and defense industries, was one of 16 cities in the U.S. South handpicked by ConventionSouth’s editors using reader, fan and follower nominations. The magazine also looked at cities that offer a:

• attractive, clean, safe and welcoming community
• charming, authentic and unique attractions, restaurants, shopping and recreation
• community-wide service standards with polite hospitality workers
• helpful Convention and Visitors Bureau with group travel and event planning services

For a city to make the list, ConventionSouth Editor/Associate Publisher Marlane Bundock said the “community as a whole must possess several defining qualities that collectively present an all-around welcoming spirit toward visitors.”

“These qualities include a genuinely cordial state-of-mind of the residents that cooperatively becomes a community-wide state-of-being,” she said. “This is further enhanced by a charming appearance and unique attractions such as one-of-a-kind restaurants—whether they are fine-dining establishments or greasy spoons. Meeting planners from across the country require destinations that meet these standards and therefore, look to the South over other regions in order hold more successful, memorable events.”

Other cities to make the list include Amarillo, Texas; Dalton, Ga.; Gaithersburg, Md.; Greensboro, N.C.; Hampton, Va.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Lafayette, La.; Lexington, K.Y.; Norman, Okla.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; St. Augustine, Fla.; Springfield, Mo.; and Summersville, W.Va.

Click here to check out the list.

Only 1 Alabama city makes ConventionSouth’s 2014 list of the best ‘Southern Hospitality Cities’ | AL.com.

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Huntsville/Madison County residential median sales price in June improves 10% from prior year

Click here to view or print the entire June report compliments of the ACRE Corporate Cabinet.

Huntsville/Madison County area residential sales in June slipped 1.7 percent from the same period a year earlier. Year-to-date sales are virtually the same as 2013 (-1.0%) through the month of June. Total sales of 507 units were 15 units or 2.7 percent shy of our monthly forecast.

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View full sizeHuntsville/Madison County residential sales slip 1.7% from last June. Inventory has decreased 2.2% from the month of June peak in 2010. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.

Supply: Huntsville housing inventory totaled 3,259 units, an increase of 142 units from last June and 5.3 percent above the 5-year June average of 3,095 units. New home inventory is down 9.1 percent year-over-year while existing single family is up 6.9 percent. The inventory-to-sales ratio in June was 6.4 months of housing supply (3.9 months for new construction – down from 4.2 months in May 2013). The market equilibrium (balance between supply and demand) is considered to be approximately 6 months during June. Huntsville remains one of Alabama’s most balanced markets in 2014. June inventory in Huntsville/Madison County experienced a 2.5 percent (79 units) increase when compared to the prior month. This movement contrast with seasonal & historical data trends that indicate June inventory on average (€™09-€™13) remained unchanged from the month of May.

Demand: New home sales improved 5.3 percent from last June after a weak May but a strong sales surge in April. New home sales spur economic growth and job creation so this is encouraging news. Existing single family home sales accounted for 73 percent (down from 74% in June’13) of total sales, new homes sales accounted for 14 percent (up from 12% in June’13) while condos were 3 percent of sales (down from 4% in June’13).

Residential sales in June improved 10.7 percent from the prior month. Real estate sales volume is seasonal and historical Huntsville data reflects that June sales, on average (€™09-€™13), increase from the month of May by 6.1 percent.

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View full sizeHuntsville/Madison County residential median sales prices rises 10% from last June. Infograph provided by ACRE. All rights reserved.

Pricing: The Huntsville median sales price in June was $184,900, an increase of 10.1 percent from June 2013 and 10.7 percent from the prior month. Historical data (09-13) indicates that the June median selling price traditionally increases from the month of May by 3.0 percent. It’s important to note that pricing can fluctuate from month-to-month as the sample size of data (closed transactions) is subject to seasonal buying patterns so a broader lens as to pricing trends is appropriate. ACRE recommends contacting a local real estate professional to discuss pricing at the neighborhood level.

Industry Perspective: According to Fannie Mae’s June National Housing Survey: Americans’ Attitudes Toward the Housing Market Reflect Steady but Slow Recovery, “Normal” Housing Levels Still a Ways Off. Click HERE for report.

View the current monthly Huntsville Residential Report here.

The Huntsville Residential Monthly Report is work product developed in conjunction with the Huntsville Area Association of REALTORS to better serve North Alabama consumers. The ACRE monthly report is provided to illustrate the “general” market direction & trends when comparing prior periods with the most current available data. Real estate is local and statistics will fluctuate between areas within a city including subdivisions. ACRE recommends that you consult a local real estate professional for “specific” advice associated with your market.

About ACRE. ACRE was founded in 1996 by the Alabama Real Estate Commissionthe Alabama Association of REALTORS and the Office of the Dean, UA Culverhouse College of Commerce. ACRE is not a state-funded entity, rather its operates in part because of the goodwill & generosity of our statewide ACRE Partners.

Alabama real estate resources & news, please visit our website and our ACRE blog. You can also follow ACRE from our facebook page, just “like” http://www.facebook.com/acreua and/or follow on twitter at @uaacre.

Huntsville/Madison County residential median sales price in June improves 10% from prior year | AL.com.

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Huntsville newcomers share what brought them to the Rocket City

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He’s a computer systems analyst for one of the world’s largest defense contractors by day. By night, he works over a hot grill serving up fresh tacos for the masses.

Like many Huntsville transplants, Armando Guerrero migrated to the Rocket City from Austin five years ago for a job. Since then, he and wife Priscilla have launched Crave Heat, a Tex Mex food truck that has become a staple at street food gatherings and a sight for sore eyes among Huntsville’s homeless community.

It’s been hard for the couple with three young sons to live more than 800 miles from the only home they’ve ever known, but Armando Guerrero, a Texas native who never imagined he would one day live in Alabama, believes his family unit is stronger because of it.

“We’ve faced many challenges here without family, but it’s been a great place to strengthen our family as a family,” he said. “Our faith has increased a good bit, as we miss family and feel distant at times.”

Using 2010-11 Internal Revenue Service data, AL.com is taking a look at where residents are moving from into the state, and where Alabamians are going when they leave. A year after Guerrero landed a job in Huntsville, 16 people from the Austin area moved into Madison County and brought $523,000 in income with them.

Another high migration area was Fairfax, Va., which lost 209 people and more than $10 million in income to Madison County. During that same time frame, King County, Wash. lost 33 people and $1 million to the Huntsville area, San Diego County 93 people and $1.9 million and El Paso County, Colo. 90 people and $2.9 million.

Unlike other metro counties across the state, Madison County’s per capita income of newcomers is $1,790 higher than the people who are leaving. Mobile, Jefferson, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Shelby counties all have a negative per capita income relationship between comers and goers.

‘A commonality of culture’

Lucia Cape, vice president of economic development for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, wasn’t surprised by the IRS migration data. Cape said the Chamber launched an aggressive recruitment campaign through the Base Realignment and Closure period from late 2006 through 2011.

The Chamber spent a lot of time in the Washington, D.C. and Fairfax area recruiting newcomers during BRAC, a process that brought 4,600 government positions to Huntsville.

Col. John Hamilton, who migrated from Fairfax into Madison County in 2010, didn’t come to Huntsville for BRAC. Instead, he was offered the garrison commander post at Redstone Arsenal.

Hamilton, who admits Huntsville “was kind of an unknown place” before moving here, said the city has grown on him and his family.

“When you get into a town like this, if you’re someone like me who moves around a lot, this is a town you can just step right into and be comfortable in,” he said. “If you go around to cities like these that have a significant military presence, they all tend to have similar characteristics – a comfort level, a commonality of culture.”

Hamilton retired last year after a long military career to assume the role of Huntsville’s city administrator. Hamilton, who is raising two young children in Huntsville’s medical district, said the transition was easy for his family.

As Remington prepares to take over the former Chrysler building near Huntsville International Airport and Verizon brings in 300 new workers to its call center in Thornton Research Park, Hamilton said infrastructure and acceptance will be vital for continued growth in the community.

AL.com reported earlier this year that 45 percent of Madison County’s population is made up of residents who are not natives of the state, while the area is also on a short list of Alabama counties where more than 5 percent of the population was born outside the United States.

With the promise of 2,000 new Remington jobs in Madison County, Cape said that migration pattern is likely to continue in the years ahead.

“That kind of trend is strong,” she said. “It shows you can organically support workforce growth but you also have the characteristics to bring people in from outside, which continues to strengthen us a community.”

Southern perceptions

Curse, a gaming information company that moved its headquarters from San Francisco to Huntsville in 2013, is expanding this year with 20 new jobs at its downtown office. The business grew 60 percent in 2013, which was in part fueled by “the great talent” Curse has found in the Rocket City.

“It’s a pleasant mix of technical minds, and people that really understand our products and are all members of the new digital age,” said Vice President of Marketing Donovan Duncan.

Justin Sacks and David Cho, two young professionals from out west, packed their bags and left sunny southern California to take full-time jobs with Curse.

Sacks, who came directly from San Diego, was operating a small business in the competitive gaming industry when an opportunity to work for Curse came available last spring. Now a sales and business development manager for Curse, Sacks said he has been “pleasantly surprised” by Huntsville at every turn.

“I definitely had a perception on what the South and specifically Alabama would look like,” he said. “Huntsville has blown those away. … San Diego is probably the most amazing place in the world to live, so it would be hard to beat that, but it’s been pretty awesome here. I definitely have no plans to leave anytime soon.”

Cho, who is from Huntington Beach, said Curse offered to fly him out to Huntsville before offering him the job so he could take a look at the city. He declined.

It’s taken some time for the video editor to get acclimated to Alabama, but Cho said the environment and housing market for young people “have been much better than expected.”

“I definitely had some preconceived notions coming in to be perfectly honest, but once you actually come to Huntsville, physically speaking it’s not what you expected – in a good way,” he said. “It really is a thriving city, and it’s just great to be a part of the growth.”

Huntsville newcomers share what brought them to the Rocket City | AL.com.

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