Henry House at Clift Farm Community Breaks Ground

MADISON — There is a lot of plowing and tilling of soil going on at Clift Farm this week, but they aren’t planting cotton.

Henry House at Clift Farm features a community event and club room, game room, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Instead, the Breland Companies announced that SWH Partners and Watercress Partners have planted the seeds of a luxury apartment community on the landmark development along U.S. 72 across from the Madison Hospital and Target Center.

The 273-unit Henry House at Clift Farm is perched on the banks of Knox Creek on the Balch Road gateway into the new Clift Farm development.

Named after the 19th century founder of the Clift family farm, John Henry Clift, it will feature stunning scenic views and miles of pedestrian trails that connect Clift Farm’s 470 acres of residential neighborhoods to its curated Main Street mix of retail and dining options.

A garden-style community that fits the countryside feel of the iconic farmland, Henry House at Clift Farm will feature outdoor kitchens, a saltwater swimming pool with sunning decks, pet spa and off-leash park, community event and club room, game room, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Offering one-, two-, and three-bedroom floor plans, Henry House is styled with warm plank floors, tile backsplashes, granite countertops, stainless-steel appliances, and oversized walk-in closets.

Breland broke ground on Clift Farm last May after purchasing the farmland from centenarian owner Jack Clift.

With his blessing, the pedestrian-friendly residential community, park, and retail center is the latest upscale commercial and residential development for Breland, which is also developing Town Madison off Interstate 565 at Zierdt Road.

Financed by Bank of America, Henry House at Clift Farm is expected to be completed by spring 2021.

Finley: State of Madison is Strong; Outback, Panera, Marriott, Hub Coming to Town Madison

MADISON — It wasn’t a stretch for Madison Mayor Paul Finley to make a Super Bowl reference Friday night in his annual State of the City Address.

“This is the second opportunity I have had to give the State of the City Address and on behalf of the City of Madison and the Madison City Council, I am able to say again that the state of the city is strong and continuing to get stronger,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley from beneath the Saturn V rocket at the Davidson Center. “I am so proud to be the mayor of Madison … and if you want some examples, let me give you a couple…,” upon which images of former Bob Jones High School star Reggie Ragland, and Madison Academy’s Jordan Matthews popped up on the big screen to thunderous cheers from the audience.

Madison Mayor Paul Finley delivers his State of the City Address. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Ragland started at linebacker for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs against Matthews’ San Francisco 49ers.

“That’s just cool,” Finley said to even more applause.

Finley also made two “super” announcements at the address that had not yet been revealed.

The first is the city’s upcoming acquisition of the 28,000 square-foot Three Springs juvenile facility on Browns Ferry Road.

The second special announcement concerned Town Madison, the home of the Rocket City Trash Pandas and Toyota Field.

“I’m excited about Three Springs but I am equally excited about Town Madison,” Finley said.

In addition to the recent announcement about J. Alexander’s restaurant coming to Town Madison, Finley said they are also expecting a 200-room Marriott near Toyota Field; Outback Steakhouse and Panera Bread Company will open on the Zierdt Road side of the development and The Hub, a newcomer to the state.

Residents who spend vacation time on the Florida Panhandle will be familiar with The Hub, a relaxing outdoor venue surrounded by live music, ice cream, burgers, and family-friendly movies shown under the stars.

“Town Madison is going to continue to build out,” Finley said. “Outback, Marriott and Panera Bread already have a footprint in the Tennessee Valley, but Town Madison will welcome the first Hub in Alabama.

“The Marriott is the fifth hotel announced – and just so you guys know, the matrix we put in place to fund the stadium had three hotels in that matrix. We are now at five.”

Concerning Three Springs, Finley said the city will be purchasing the empty 33-acre facility, using funds from the sale of the Madison Library. Over the next four to five years, it will be converted it into a community center.

Finley said there are several local entities such as the Madison City Senior Center; the Enrichment Center, which helps schools with counseling; and American Legion Post 229, which is involved in Memorial Day and Veterans Day events around the city that are all bursting at the seams when it comes to parking and office space.

“This purchase will take our city to the next level,” Finley said. “The library is not the right fit for our city right now, so it is up for sale. Over the next five years, you will see other organizations who also need more space, move into the old Three Springs facility.”

Other significant highlights from the speech were updates on sidewalk improvements at Dublin Park to make it safer; the revitalization of an aging Hughes Plaza, a retail center on Hughes Road across from City Hall; and numerous improvements to older office complexes and buildings.

Furthermore, the City Council invested more than $4 million in a new public works facility. They had outgrown the aging building and there wasn’t enough parking for the employees or for the service trucks. The new facility is on 16 acres and they will move into it in a couple of weeks.

Finley shared Census Bureau data showing the growth in Madison’s population over the past 40 years. In 1980, Madison’s population was 4,500. By the 1990s, it was nearly 15,000. There was a big jump in population in 2008 to over 42,000; and in 2019, it has grown to 50,926.

“That is astronomic growth,” Finley said. “In fact, we are in such good shape in our city that our Rocket City Trash Panda mascot, Sprocket, was just named one of the top 20 people locally of 2020.

“Because of what we are doing, we are collectively blowing this growth thing out of the water and the state of Alabama is stronger because this community is stronger.”

There was also a special recognition for Madison City School Superintendent, Robby Parker who is retiring this year; and the mayor announced that the Trash Pandas have broken records, selling over $2 million, in Trash Panda merchandise.

There will be no traffic relief for residents and businesses traveling Madison Boulevard from Zierdt Road to Wall Triana while construction continues on the I-565 interchange at Town Madison; but a greenway extension will run under the railway tracks just south of Palmer Road, into historic downtown Madison where Sealy Realty is building the Avenue Madison, a multi-use residential, retail and commercial development right in the heart of downtown.

“It’s an exciting time right now to be in our city,” said Finley upon conclusion. “We are managing growth, we are open for business, but we are being really smart about it.”

Mixed-use Development Planned for Former Governors Drive Motel Site

A mixed-use development, including a 100-room hotel, is planned for the site of a former motel and small businesses on Governors Drive in Huntsville’s growing Westside.

The property, some 13 acres of land on Governors Drive near the intersections with 13th and 14th streets, will be developed by The Beach Company. Construction is planned to start this summer.

According to an announcement from The Beach Company, the community will feature multiple buildings totaling approximately 26,000 square feet of office, retail and dining space in addition to 260 multifamily units, 14 townhomes and a 100-key hotel.

Residential amenities will include a pool, a fitness area, a clubhouse and ample green space with a dog park.

The planned project will complement the nearby Stovehouse development and will feature pedestrian walkways between them.

“This community addition will help continue the momentum of growth along Governors Drive through increased walkability and connectivity,” said Ned Miller, development manager with The Beach Company. “The project was thoughtfully designed to enhance the experience of the growing number of residents and businesses expanding to Huntsville’s flourishing Westside.”

To accommodate for the new community, approximately 620 parking spaces will be made available to residents and visitors in addition to garage storage available for apartment and townhome residents.

The Beach Company has developed the Sixth South mixed-use community in Nashville and Chattanooga’s River Rock community.

 

Hotel Indigo Coming to Huntsville’s MidCity District

A truly unique addition to MidCity District will be coming.

Hotel Indigo is joining the growing lineup at the $850 million mixed-use development in Huntsville at the intersection of University Drive and Research Park Boulevard, RCP Companies announced. This is a first-to-market hotel brand for the area and is developed by Chattanooga-based ViaNova Development.

Construction is scheduled to begin this spring and the targeted opening date is mid-2021.

Just as no two places are alike, no two Hotel Indigo properties are the same. Each hotel draws inspiration from the local neighborhood, culture and popular trends in food, drink and design to create a warm and vibrant atmosphere.

The Hotel Indigo Huntsville – MidCity will be the first Hotel Indigo property in North Alabama. With more than 100 hotels across 19 countries, Hotel Indigo is a branded boutique from InterContinental Hotels Group.

Every hotel is uniquely designed to capture the essence of the neighborhood with curated artwork and seasonal menus reflecting the local character and culture.

“Hotel Indigo offers guests an immersive experience that is truly reflective of the local community,” said Max Grelier, co-founder of RCP Companies. “By celebrating local art, music and food, Hotel Indigo delivers a genuine boutique hotel.

“Hotel Indigo’s commitment to the local culture is truly aligned with the MidCity District mission.”

Located along Nunnuhsae Park Drive, the 120-room five-story Hotel Indigo will provide guests with expansive views of the 40-acre public park and adjacency to Topgolf and the 8,500-capacity amphitheater.

In addition to the boutique hotel, the property will feature a restaurant offering locally sourced options, a comprehensive craft/beer cocktail menu, and indoor and outdoor spaces for gathering.

“ViaNova Development is extremely pleased about the opportunity to become one of the cornerstones of such an exiting and dynamic development,” said Vyomesh Desai, managing partner. “The growth in Huntsville has been amazing and we are proud to join the community …

“We are looking forward to bringing a truly boutique experience that embodies the cultural assets of the ‘Rocket City’ to the MidCity development.”

Recently ranked as the fourth-largest commercial real estate project in the U.S., MidCity Huntsville features first-to-market concepts in retail, dining, entertainment, residential and hospitality, including Topgolf, REI Co-op, Dave & Buster’s, High Point Climbing & the Adrenaline Zone, Wahlburgers, and world-class music venues.

Redstone Gateway Continues Growth as Government Contractors Seek Prime Office Space

Two more office buildings are on the rise at Redstone Gateway as government contractors warm to the office park’s amenity-rich environment and proximity to both Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park.

Rendering shows the 42,000 square-foot office building under construction at Redstone Gateway. It is expected to open by the end of the year.

Corporate Office Properties Trust, in partnership with Jim Wilson & Associates, developed the 4.6 million square-foot, mixed-use development as a Class-A office park near Gate 9 at I-565 and Redstone Road.

Redstone Gateway includes seven office buildings totaling 569,000 square feet; a full-service, 120-room TownePlace Suites by Marriott hotel; and The Shops at Redstone Gateway consisting of over 19,000 square feet of retail space, three restaurants and a conference center.

The existing office buildings are 100 percent occupied.

“The growth of availability at Redstone Gateway continues to be an asset to government contractors locating close to their customer base on Redstone Arsenal,” said COPT Chief Operating Officer Paul Adkins. “This pre-lease, along with other recent leases, highlights the value proposition of Redstone Gateway.”

Currently, there are seven buildings under construction at Redstone Gateway, expected to add another 662,000 square feet to the development.

One of those buildings is a 100,000 square foot, four-story office building along Rideout Road. There will be 113,000 square-feet of office leasing space available upon completion end of the year.

The other is a soon-to-be 42,000 square-foot single-story office building located at 6000 Redstone Gateway at the corner of Redstone Gateway and Market Street, within the Redstone Gateway development.

It, too, should be complete by the end of 2020 but will just keep pace with the demand as it is already 75 percent pre-leased to a government contractor. Approximately 13,000 square feet will be available for lease upon completion.

Rendering shows 100,000 square-foot office building with construction expected to be complete by the end of the year.

James Lomax, director of Asset Management for COPT Huntsville, said the buildings support Redstone Arsenal, clearly an economic engine for North Alabama.

“We’re excited about the rapid development at Redstone Gateway as Huntsville’s modern office park,” said Lomax. “Redstone Gateway is the most forward-thinking office development in North Alabama, creating an amenity-rich environment and walkable environment focused on employee satisfaction and efficiency.

“We’re excited to continue this phase of development and are thankful for the support from the whole community in North Alabama.”

COPT, whose Huntsville office is at Bridge Street Town Centre, specializes in developing and operating office buildings in locations that support the U.S. government and its defense contractors.

The company designs, builds and operates specialized office and data center facilities that provide technically sophisticated, mission critical environments. Maryland-based COPT often chooses locations adjacent to government agencies and prime contractors.

Singing River Trail a Merger of Native American History and Smart Technology

Native Americans called it the “River that Sings” and many tribes were said to use the Tennessee River to “sing” their dead into the afterlife.

Two hundred years was not that long ago in the grand scheme of history and, in 1819, Creek and Cherokee tribes lived up and down the river leaving behind a rich legacy in places where rockets and genomics, missiles and cyber security now dominate.

The past and the future are coming together in a historical and high-tech way as the Land Use Committee of Huntsville’s Launch 2035 debuts the first quarter-mile of North Alabama’s 70-mile-long Singing River Trail along Governors House Drive in Huntsville.

In what is one of the most ambitious legacy projects Launch 2035 has undertaken, the Singing River Trail project hit a major milestone last month debuting a $225,000 master plan funded by municipal and county governments, regional businesses, and congressional officers. The plan by Alta Planning + Design lays out a 70-mile bike-hike-walk trail that will physically connect Huntsville to Madison, Athens, and Decatur.

Fully embracing the Native American heritage, the plan reveals a route starting at Bob Wallace Avenue in Huntsville. It will follow Madison Boulevard and bear south at Zierdt Road to Triana, crossing over County Line Road to Mooresville. Another leg will bear north off Madison Boulevard toward Belle Mina, and dip south to the river at County Road 6 crossing into Decatur. On the Decatur leg, it will turn north along U.S. 31 toward Athens.

Although it is expected to shift in some places, especially along U.S. 31, the master plan reveals a trail that will offer estimated economic benefits of $10,890,000; transportation benefits of $866,000, and health benefits of $1.4 million.

It will also offer $23,631,000 in indirect economic spending; $7,079,000 in earnings from direct economic spending; and provide approximately 900 temporary and 100 permanent jobs per year.

“We see the master plan as the first milestone in this legacy project,” said John Allen, CEO of Huntsville’s Committee of 100, the backbone of the Launch 2035 effort to forge a coalition between city and business leaders in Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties. Their purpose is to build an economy that is inclusive of communities across the entire region that benefits the entire region.

“Land-use planning is one of the three legs of the stool on which Launch 2035 has its focus. If you look at Huntsville regionally, the Tennessee River passes through all three counties and four major cities.”

Joe Campbell, legal counsel for Huntsville Hospital, is on the Launch 2035 Land Use Committee. He had been working on a connectivity idea for the Huntsville and Decatur campuses of Calhoun Community College.

They had discussed a trail or bike system that would connect the two campuses, making him the perfect person to spearhead an expansion of that concept to include the bike-hike-walk trail that connects the entire three-county region.

“I have been amazed at the response,” said Campbell. “Everyone we talk to says ‘Yes’.”

One of those yeses is the Smithsonian Institute.

“One of our law partners came to our firm from having worked for the Smithsonian institute,” Campbell said. “Upon talking to her, she put John and I in touch with Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

“She mentioned they have a storehouse of American Indian artifacts and said if we were to do a Native American museum along the trail, there was a chance the Smithsonian would be interested in loaning us all sorts of exhibits for it.

“John and I were stunned to be honest, when we met with him, thinking we needed to convince him that what we wanted to do would be beneficial to the museum. But instead, his response was that this may be the kind of venture the Smithsonian had been looking for. They have been wanting to take the Smithsonian outside of the four walls of their building and take it to the people!”

Campbell said Gover brought up possibly incorporating the Trail of Tears into the project.

“He suggested we set it up as a smart trail. Pinpoint sites that were part of the Trail of Tears, that were heavily populated villages along the way, or that held historical significance,” Campbell said. “If we do that, the Smithsonian would provide exhibits and facts from those events.”

Campbell said he and Allen came away excited about the possibilities, able to envision a technologically advanced digitally-enabled walking and biking trail where people are listening on their headphones to historical recordings that tell the story of the area at different locations, along with signage and exhibits where they can stop and take in what occurred there.

Another consideration is to have sensors and other technology that warns walkers and riders. For example, because of recent rains, a specific route through the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge was too wet. It would then recommend a different route. This would be helpful to people planning out a 20- or 50-mile route.

Allen agrees that in terms of funding, nearly everyone they talk to loves the idea and they already have sponsors in all aspects of business from Huntsville Hospital to the TVA and Rotary, banks, colleges, and more.

“The trail also has health benefits that are part of our workforce retention programs,” he said. “It’s not just something our community has to have as an amenity to keep workers here, it’s something to do that’s cool, attractive and a magnet for our talent pool.”

The city was about to authorize the building of a new car bridge and Campbell said they stepped in and negotiated putting in a bike lane.

“They did it and will consider it for any future roads as well,” Campbell said.

“When you look at the economic impact, you realize how it will change the dynamics of communities along the route,” he said. “For instance, I pitched the idea at a quality of life panel at a chamber leadership meeting and afterward, a commercial developer on an economic development panel wanted to talk to me about the restaurants they’re trying to bring in. He wants to discuss where the trail will run because for some clients, it may be more feasible to locate on an off-road location you can access by bike or walking than along a five-lane high traffic area in town.

“I did a presentation to the Rotary Club about it and they have taken us on as their five-year project.”

Allen said the question became, ‘How are we going to manage that from a municipal perspective?”

They started with looking at other successful trails as a baseline for what the Singing River Trail could be.

One of those is the 62-mile Silver Comet Trail that runs from Smyrna, Ga., outside Atlanta, to the Alabama state line where it connects to the Chief Ladiga Trail, winding for 33 miles through the countryside to Anniston.

They have also studied the Razorback Regional Greenway, a 38-mile off-road shared-use trail in northwest Arkansas; and the Wolf River Greenway Trail from Memphis to Germantown, Tenn., which is a little over seven miles.

Decisions about the trail’s width, whether to pave it or use crushed gravel, who will maintain it, and providing security are all still in the planning stages.

“We’ve had the National Park Service at the table talking about these things,” said Campbell. “But you know different parts of it will be under different jurisdictions so each community will be responsible and will have to step up.

“Right now, our target is to get it on the ground.”

Monroe Manor to Offer Luxury Living Outside the City Lights

MERIDIANVILLE — A new residential development offers home builders a chance to live just off a golf course of a winding waterway in the northern part of Madison County.

Casey Stafford of Stafford Realty is introducing Monroe Manor, a 150-plus acre spread that sits hard against the south end of Colonial Golf Course on one side and Beaverdam Creek on another.

There are 48 lots ranging from .75 acre to just under five acres.

“It’s less than 10 miles to downtown Huntsville,’’ Stafford said.

Several large employers such as the Toyota plant and the Facebook data center are just a few miles away.

Stafford Realty bought the land two years ago and broke ground in January.

“It’s the first development I’ve ever done,’’ Stafford said. “It’s been a learning experience. But, me and (real estate attorney Ty Stafford) had an idea about what we wanted it to be.’’

Aerial photo shows layout of Monroe Manor development. (Photo Courtesy of Stafford Realty/Marty Sellers)

The Staffords bill Monroe Manor as a luxury community with lots selling from $75,000 to $150,000. Houses will be a minimum of 3,000 square feet and each buyer can choose the contractor.

“They’ll be custom made,’’ Stafford said. “We’re just selling the lots. Each customer can use their own builder.’’

According to a post made by Stafford, the Monroe Manor “community provides some of the most peaceful lots to build on in the area. Monroe Manor offers golf course lots and creek lots up to five acres. This is a community you and your family will be excited to call home.’’

Stafford Realty also includes Casey’s uncles Roger and Stanley Stafford, who many area residents will remember as a former basketball player and coach. He won a state championship as a player at Hazel Green and a coach at Sparkman and is a member of the Huntsville-Madison County Athletic Hall of Fame.

Casey also played high school basketball at Hazel Green. The 6-foot-3 Stafford was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association Class 5A All-State second team as a senior in 2004. After starring for the Trojans, he played for former UAH and current Lipscomb coach Lennie Acuff at UAH from 2005-09.

“Those five years were awesome,’’ he said of his time with the Chargers.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management. After finishing college, he worked for Science and Engineering Services and entered the family real estate business.

Stafford also revealed he’s made a living in another field of work not too many people know about.

“It might surprise you,’’ he said, “but I’ve been a Huntsville firefighter for four or five years.’’

 

Vote Early! Vote Often! Huntsville International Nominated for Best Small Airport

It’s all about turning out the vote – not for elected office, but for choosing Huntsville International Airport as the Best Small Airport in the United States.

Historically popular with business travelers and more recently with vacation travelers because it is small and easy to navigate, Huntsville International Airport has been nominated by USA Today as one of its 10 Best Reader’s Choice 2020 Small Airports in the U.S.

Through Jan. 13, visit https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-small-airport/huntsville-international-airport-huntsville-ala/ to cast your vote.

Twenty small airports across the U.S. have been nominated by a panel of travel experts, including editors at USA Today. HSV is the only airport from Alabama nominated. The top 10 will be announced Jan. 17.

The voting is digital at USA Today’s standalone travel website, 10Best.com. Voters can vote daily and are encouraged to share the voting link via social media as often and with as many people as you wish.

“We want to show the rest of the country that there is a great airport in North Alabama, and we want to draw attention to our region as a whole,” said Jana Kuner, public relations manager at Huntsville International Airport. “HSV is proud to be a part of this community. We serve the best of the best in the country with folks flying in and out every day … Our community continuing to be nominated for honors like this proves that we have something very special here.”

Huntsville International hosts Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, United Airlines, Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines, offering nonstop service to 10 major destinations across the country.

The airport has an onsite hotel and a range of food and beverage options.

“Huntsville International Airport has typically been known as primarily a business airport connecting our region to the world,” said Katie Martz, the airport’s business development specialist. “With the addition of ultra, low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines starting non-stop service to Orlando and Denver last year, leisure travel from Huntsville has become more affordable and has been growing as well.

“HSV has seen 22 consecutive months of passenger growth, with 19 of those boasting double-digit increases. This has also resulted in fares that are much more competitive. We are grateful for our community’s support and attribute our recent success to them,” she said.

USA Today’s 10Best.com averages 5 million visitors per month and provides a variety of travel content, top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for the top destinations in the U.S. and around the world.

 

Watermark at Bridge Street Developer Expands to Clift Farms

MADISON — Watermark Residential, owners of Watermark at Bridge Street Town Centre – Cummings Research Park’s first residential community, will develop the first luxury multifamily apartment community at the new Clift Farms multi-use development on U.S. 72 in Madison. Construction will begin in January on a three-story, 324-unit, garden-style community.

The complex will provide amenities such as granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, and a resort-style swimming pool.

“The strong job and population growth of the Huntsville market has played a large role in Watermark’s commitment to the second project in the Huntsville [area],” said Tyler Sauerteig, the company’s director of land acquisitions for the Southeast. “Watermark has had great success with the lease-up of Watermark at Bridge Street Town Centre, and we feel that Clift Farms is going to be a similar destination development with immediate area amenities and great proximity to jobs.”

The Breland Companies broke ground at Clift Farms across from the Target and Madison Hospital in May. Their goal is to create a community that will have a timeless feel while preserving the natural attributes of the historic family farmland.

The Clift Farm community will provide retail, dining, residential, office space, medical opportunities and multifamily homes, as well as luxury apartments such as Watermark at Clift Farms.

Watermark Residential is a Thompson Thrift company, a multifamily development company based in Indianapolis, Ind. Established in 2008, Watermark Residential has developed or is in the process of developing more than 39 projects in 12 states totaling over 10,000 units.

City Receives $1.3M Grant to Renovate Butler Terrace Area

The announcement didn’t come gradually or with the drama that accompanied the rollout of the top four teams participating in the college football playoff, but for the city’s civic leaders the news was just as exciting and filled with suspense for the future.

Huntsville is one of four cities nationwide to receive a Choice Neighborhood Planning grant. The Rocket City joined Rome, Ga.; Trenton, N.J.; and Omaha, Neb.; in receiving the award.

The cities were notified in September and Huntsville officials unveiled plans Thursday on how the $1.3 million grant will be used.

“We’ll renovate west of downtown and around Butler Terrace,’’ said Scott Erwin, the city interim director of community development.

Plans call for new affordable housing, commercial opportunities and entertainment options.

Erwin said the blueprints are designed to renovate “distressed public housing’’ and improve blight in a one-mile radius around Butler Terrace, which was built in the early 1950s. The area is from Bob Wallace and Memorial Parkway west to Triana Boulevard and I-565.

A packed house gathered at First Baptist Church to hear details of the renovations, which are a joint venture between the City of Huntsville and the Housing Authority. Council President Devyn Keith and Councilmembers Frances Akridge, Will Culver and Jennie Robinson, along with Urban and Long Range Planning Manager Dennis Madsen, Real Estate Development for the Housing Authority Quisha Riche and Camiros Planning Coordinator Bill James attended the meeting.

Camiros is a Chicago-based company with experience in planning, zoning, urban design, economic development and landscape architecture. The firm has worked with Choice Neighborhood Planning grant cities, including Mobile.

“Today was about introducing Camiros as partners,’’ Erwin said.

He said community members and not just city authorities will have a voice in the planning of renovations and upgrades.

Residents in areas affected by new construction, he said, won’t be dislocated immediately since the project is only in the planning process. However, residents may have to eventually move for a period of time.

If that happens, Erwin said, the city will relocate residents temporarily and those who were moved will have first options on returning to their community once renovations are complete.

The Choice Neighborhood Planning grant lasts for three years. Once planning goals are met, Huntsville can compete for a $30 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant to complete construction.

Erwin said residents in areas including Butler Terrace, Lowe Mill and Terry Heights and Campus 805 are welcomed to voice their opinions.

“They’re engaged in this,’’ he said. “They will have input in this.’’

The Choice Neighborhoods Initiative is a program of HUD. Its goal is to transform neighborhoods of extreme poverty into functioning, sustainable mixed-income communities.