Tag Archives: Huntsville

Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways

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Thousands come out for food trucks on Church Street by Big Spring International Park in Huntsville, AL on Thursday July 17, 2014. (Bob Gathany/bgathany@AL.com)

A new list of last-minute vacation hotspots by Florida-based Global Vacation Ventures might make you consider taking a “staycation” in the Rocket City.

Huntsville was among four cities included in GVV’s best U.S. summer getaway destination list released Friday afternoon. The country club concierge travel agency in West Palm Beach touted Huntsville’s craft beer scene and “quality family entertainment.”

“Those who are intrigued by the nation’s space program will find Huntsville to be the perfect vacation spot,” GVV said. “That’s not all this southern town has to offer, though. There are festivals, shopping spots and unique dining experiences to enjoy.”

Here is the full list from GVV:

  1. Asheville, N.C.
  2. Deadwood, S.D.
  3. Huntsville
  4. Portland, Ore.

Click here to check out the ranking.

Considering a ‘staycation’? Huntsville ranks among top last-minute summer getaways | AL.com.

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Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville

Since the late 1980’s when Sharp Communication moved from Jordan Lane to Governors Drive, the two-way radio company has watched downtown revitalization pick up momentum “like an airplane running down the runway.”

With the announcement that the nearby Stone Middle School will soon be home to two well-known Huntsville breweries and an outdoor concert amphitheater, Sharp CEO Trey Sharp believes downtown growth has taken off.

“Between this and the rumors surrounding the Coca-Cola bottling property, it’s becoming much more clear how cool the whole downtown area could soon become,” he said. “I would just say ‘great job’ to the area leaders behind this move.”

Officials gathered this afternoon in the old Stone Middle gymnasium to officially announce the redevelopment project, which includes a 40,000-square-foot brewery and taproom for Straight to Ale, a new 6,000-square-foot facility, bier garten and tasting room for Yellowhammer and a large amphitheater for concerts and outdoor events.

[Related: With Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer expanding, Huntsville poised to become 'the Napa Valley of craft beer]

Chad Emerson, CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., said the development will be a game-changer for downtown and the state of Alabama when it opens in 12 to 18 months. He believes it will bring young, creative professionals from competing cities and provide a major tourism boost to North Alabama.

“This will cement us – the city of Huntsville and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama – the absolute largest – and one of the largest per capita in the entire Southeast, so it is a significant manufacturing and economic development project,” he said.

Straight to Ale, which operates in a 10,000-square-foot brewhouse on Leeman Ferry Road, made the jump into the Atlanta market in May after doubling its fermentation capacity last year.

“This will cement us – the city and Madison County – as the largest destination for breweries in the state of Alabama.”

Founder Dan Perry said the Stone Middle property will allow him to grow his workforce from 14 employees to 40 or 50 in the next 1 ½ years.

“This area needed some life put into it, and I think this project is the start of that happening,” Perry said. “We’re big fans of old buildings and revitalizing stuff. We tried to do it when we first started at Lincoln Mill. It didn’t work out over there so now we’re really excited to be able to get back to what we wanted to do when we first started up.”

[Related: Market crash, longterm vacancy caused Stone Middle School property value to plummet from $5.8 million to $1.1 million]

Yellowhammer will double its workforce and increase its output significantly at the larger space on the Stone Middle campus, which was originally home to Butler High School. Head brewer Keith Yager also hopes to reach craft beer markets in Tennessee and Georgia once Yellowhammer is operating on the corner of Governors Drive and Clinton Avenue.

By beautifying the area and making it attractive for visitors, Yager believes more restaurants will move into west Huntsville because of the breweries and the public draw.

“I think Huntsville is doing something really special here,” he said. “It’s going to be a big draw to people all over the state and Southeast. I think you’ll get people to come here to Huntsville just because of the craft beer scene we have.”

Lucia Cape, director of workforce development for the Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County, said the project does nothing but “magnetize” the city. Flucy Lucy Antique Market employee Kathy Clark, who works across the street from the campus, agrees.

The customers and surrounding businesses near Flucy Lucy and Bandito Burrito have also expressed excitement about the development since the news came to light late last week after a Huntsville school board meeting.

“I think it will really do good for the area and maybe for Flucy Lucy’s,” she said. “I think it will really help our business and maybe everyone else’s around here, too.”

Officials expect economic boom with Stone Middle project featuring 2 breweries, outdoor venue near downtown Huntsville | AL.com.

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Huntsville ready to roll with $383M in road upgrades over next 5 years

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Orange construction cones may replace the Saturn V as Huntsville’s unofficial mascot over the next five years.

Mayor Tommy Battle called a Wednesday news conference to update drivers on 27 road construction projects around the city that are recently under way or expected to break ground in the coming months.

The $383 million in planned road work is touching almost every major street in town, including Memorial Parkway, U.S. 72 East and West, Martin Road, Research Park Boulevard, Old Madison Pike and Zierdt Road.

Improving traffic flow is vital to Huntsville maintaining its status as an employment hub for all of North Alabama, said Battle. Currently, an estimated 110,000 workers commute into the city from surrounding areas.

“It is inconvenient having to divert traffic and move people around through construction zones,” said Battle. “But we’re a regional employment center. Our workforce comes from a 14-county area. We have to have the capabilities of getting those people … into the city of Huntsville to work each day.”

The road upgrades are a mix of 15 locally-funded projects and 12 being done in concert with the Alabama Department of Transportation. Huntsville and the state are splitting the estimated $221.5 million cost of new Parkway overpasses at Mastin Lake, Lily Flagg and Byrd Spring roads, widening U.S. 72 East and West, and building the next leg of the Northern Bypass.

Last December, the Huntsville City Council voted to raise sales taxes from 8 percent to 9 percent to finance the city’s share of the road construction partnership.

Here’s an update from Battle and City Engineer Kathy Martin on some key road projects:

New Memorial Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring and Lily Flagg roads:Design is 90 percent finished; state expected to seek construction bids in March 2015; work on access roads should start mid-2015. Huntsville wants the contractor to move quickly, said Martin, and may offer cash incentives for finishing ahead of schedule. Part of the work will be done at night to try to minimize impact on businesses in that stretch, she said.

New Memorial Parkway overpass at Mastin Lake Road: Design is 30 percent finished; construction scheduled to start late 2016.

Third westbound lane over Chapman Mountain on U.S. 72 East: Reed Contracting has been hired and should start work in October; the job is expected to be finished in April 2016.

Six-laning U.S. 72 West from Providence Main Street to Limestone County line: Concept drawings being reviewed; public involvement meeting planned for later this month; on track for mid-2016 start.

Build Northern Bypass between Pulaski Pike and Memorial Parkway: Design 60 percent finished; next step is acquiring needed right-of-way; on track for mid-2017 start.

Holmes Avenue bridge replacement: Construction is 70 percent complete and should wrap up in January.

Four-laning Zierdt Road between Madison Boulevard and Martin Road:Clearing and Redstone Arsenal fence relocation complete; construction of new northbound lanes on track to start late this year and finish in mid-2016.

Five-laning Martin Road from Zierdt Road to near Huntsville International Airport: First phase from Zierdt to Old Jim Williams Road expected to start early 2016.

Five-laning Winchester Road between Dominion Circle and Naugher Road:Design is 90 percent complete; next step is purchasing needed right-of-way; on track for early 2016 construction start.

Widening Old Madison Pike west of Cummings Research Park: Construction is 70 percent complete and should wrap up in April 2015.

Weatherly Road extension to future Grissom High School site: Construction is 20 percent complete and should be finished by July 2015.

New five-lane section of Church Street between Oakwood and Pratt avenues: Construction is 80 percent complete and on track to wrap up in October.

Huntsville ready to roll with $383M in road upgrades over next 5 years, including 3 new Parkway overpasses | AL.com.

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Huntsville awarded Wall Street’s top credit rating

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Wall Street continues to hold the City of Huntsville in high regard when it comes to financial management.

Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s both awarded Huntsville their best-possible triple-A credit rating last week – the sixth straight year the Rocket City has held that distinction.

A city’s credit ranking is based on a variety of factors including past financial management, current debt and economic strength. Cities rated triple-A tend to have a reasonable amount of debt and significant cash reserves to help weather economic downturns.

A stellar credit rating allows Huntsville to borrow money at the most favorable interest rates.

Tommy Battle Will Not Run For GovernorHuntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. (Eric Schultz / eschultz@al.com)

“We have worked hard to remain fiscally responsible in a time of shrinking resources,” Mayor Tommy Battle said in a news release. “We have put our dollars into our most critical needs – public safety, education, infrastructure and economic development – and we are being rewarded with an influx of new industries and expanding businesses that desire a secure, healthy community.”

The positive credit ratings are also a result of strong teamwork between Battle’s administration and the Huntsville City Council, he said.

The Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s ratings were issued ahead of a city plan to refinance about $60 million in old debt at today’s lower interest rates. Finance Director Randy Taylor estimates the refinancing will save taxpayers about $4 million.

Moody’s said Huntsville’s strengths include a stable financial position, above-average wealth levels, below-average unemployment and a large, regionally important tax base with significant government presence.

Updated at 10:32 a.m. to add that this is the sixth straight year Huntsville has been rated triple-A

Huntsville awarded Wall Street’s top credit rating ahead of $60M refinancing | AL.com.

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Fall Home & Garden Show – Huntsville, Alabama

HGS

Fall Home & Garden Show? – Huntsville, Alabama.

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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.

Median Price.jpg
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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