Super Chix Ready to Serve up Trademark Chicken and Frozen Custard

From the folks who brought Five Guys, Nothing Bundt Cakes and other eateries to the Rocket City, comes Super Chix. And, it’s another first for the Patels.

“This will be our first location outside of the Dallas market and we are very excited to partner with local restaurateurs Kumar Patel and Rajesh Patel to bring the concept to Huntsville,” said Nick Ouimet, founder and CEO of Super Chix. “This isn’t fast-food chicken— there are only six ingredients in our breading on our lightly breaded, high-quality tenders and filets, and we believe simple is best.”

The Dallas-based chicken and frozen custard restaurant opened at Times Plaza on South Memorial Parkway.

Ouimet said Super Chix features a “fast-casual dining experience.”

‘We have no drive-thrus and our interiors have a cool, modern vibe that’s perfect for a casual lunch or dinner,” he said. “We’ve developed a product and experience that stand out in the market and caters to all ages and walks of life—everyone enjoys exceptional food in a fun environment.”

The Super Chix Nashville hot chicken sandwich is a specialty of the restaurant.

Super Chix features “never-frozen” tenders and filets, hand-breaded or grilled chicken sandwiches , hand-cut fries and salads. The toppings come from whole vegetables that are delivered daily and sliced by hand. There are also house-made sauces offered like ranch, honey mustard, a signature Super Chix sauce and its Nashville hot chicken sauce that comes on a sandwich or as a dipping sauce.

The restaurant also specializes in frozen custard, which is served as hand-dipped in cones or cups, or in milkshakes and fusions (concretes). Chocolate and vanilla are churned each morning and are always on the menu, and there is a special flavor of the day. Future custard flavors include cookies and cream, Reese’s peanut butter cup, Butterfinger, English coffee toffee, chocolate chip cookie dough, black raspberry cheesecake and more.

“Times Plaza is the perfect location for the new-to-market Super Chix thanks to its easy accessibility and prominent visibility from the parkway,” said Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate leasing agent Anusha Davis. “Nearby professionals have another great option for a fast-casual lunch with healthy and indulgent options and dinner crowds will discover a new excellent eatery they can enjoy with family and friends.

“Super Chix has put together an excellent team here in Huntsville who will operate the brand and ensure that each visit has rave reviews.”

Stovehouse’s ‘Retailtainment’ Concept to Include Gaslight Alley Retail District

There is nothing new about restaurants and retailers using a little pizzazz to entice customers to buy or experience their products and services.

Mexican restaurants have Mariachi bands; traditional pizza parlors entertain customers twirling pizza crusts; New Orleans chefs shuck oysters and suck crawfish heads for their customers; and retailers have BOGOs and Midnight Madness sales.

Gaslight Alley’s design is inspired by decorated alleys and shops in St. Augustine, Fla., and Lovat Lane in London. (Rendering/Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

But, according to Haley Clemons, marketing coordinator for Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group, retailers notice contemporary shoppers and diners are putting more importance on the experience of eating and shopping than they have in the past.

“Businesses in the retail industry are adopting out-of-the-box strategies to attract new audiences that value entertainment and interacting with brands in creative ways,” Clemons said. “Known as ‘retailtainment’ … many concepts are drawing in traffic by going above and beyond the basic shopping trip.”

Yoga-wear stores hosting in-shop fitness classes, or beauty brands encouraging their clientele to participate in the creation of their own purchases, are examples of this.

The Stovehouse Food & Leisure Garden, which is at the heart of the old stove factory property, is the perfect example of a venue conceived on the idea of retailtainment.

They have taken compatible concepts such as casual dining, live music, outdoor games, and special events and brought them together to collaborate. This creates a casual, inclusive atmosphere at the Stovehouse that is extremely popular with millennials.

Stovehouse Phase II: Gaslight Alley

With the success of the Stovehouse Food & Leisure Garden, developers are beginning Phase II where they will essentially repurpose an entirely separate section of the expansive old factory for retail, taking care to maintain the property’s old-world architecture and atmosphere. The “old-world shopping district” is called Gaslight Alley.

“Encompassing several retail spaces along a beautiful cobblestone walkway, Gaslight Alley will be home to all kinds of concepts with the hopes of attracting boutiques, soft goods, home décor, hair salons, and more,” said Clemons. “The possibilities are endless, and the district has already captured businesses — some that are scheduled to make their debut later this year.”

The Burn Collective is already hosting events at Stovehouse and its space will be open soon. (Photo/Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

When finished, Gaslight Alley, whose design is inspired by decorated alleys and shops in St. Augustine, Fla., and Lovat Lane in London, will be an eclectic shopping experience and a hotspot for one-stop destination shopping and retailtainment.

Currently, several businesses have set up office space at Stovehouse. Spur, Onyx Aerospace, Star Lab, Liberty Learning, and the Stovehouse Properties team are all housed there.

“Gaslight Alley businesses will also be part of the growing West Huntsville entertainment district that connects to nearby Campus 805,” said Clemons.

Among the committed tenants so far are Charlie Foster’s Coffee, F24 Training and the Burn Collective Fit Studio.

Charlie Foster’s is a locally owned, multi-roaster coffee shop at the entrance to Gaslight Alley. There is the 1,850-square-foot shop with a 500-square-foot outdoor patio. They will sell coffee beans from around the U.S., but the most unique thing about Charlie Foster’s is their plan to offer jobs to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

F45 Training, across from Charlie Foster’s, is a 2,835-square-foot functional training center offering high-intensity group circuit training classes. They will provide themed workouts and bring in a live DJ to get people motivated. They will be opening before the end of the year.

On a more mainstream level, the Burn Collective Fit studio is in the breezeway connecting to Gaslight Alley. They offer individual and group training in cardio, sculpting, and yoga barre classes, as well as athleisure apparel, candles, and jewelry. They are relocating from Franklin Street downtown.

 

Madison Cuts Ribbon on Alabama’s First White Bison Coffee-Twice Daily Store

MADISONIt’s another first for Madison as Nashville-based Tri Star Energy  opened its newest White Bison Coffee and Twice Daily convenience store in Town Madison.

White Bison Coffee and Twice Daily is now open at 115 Graphics Drive in Madison. (Courtesy Photo)

The store at 115 Graphics Drive, off Wall Triana Highway, is the first brand-in-brand retail location for Tri Star Energy outside of Tennessee. The new concept combines convenience and quality with Twice Daily’s convenience store and White Bison Coffee’s artisan coffee beverages and fresh, handcrafted café menu.

“Whether it’s enjoying coffee with friends, grabbing food on-the-go or fueling up, White Bison Coffee and Twice Daily have you covered,” said Steve Hostetter, CEO of Tri Star Energy. “We are thrilled to bring convenience paired with quality to the people of Alabama.”

The White Bison Coffee concept offers roasted, handcrafted specialty coffee drinks – featuring single origin pour-over coffees, cold brew, nitro coffee, espresso beverages and more. The store also features freshly baked pastries and handmade breakfast and lunch items including sandwiches, salads and Bistro snack boxes.

In addition to traditional convenience items, Twice Daily’s premium offerings range from grab-and-go snacks, including organic brands, to a selection of staple groceries.

There is also a fresh deli case with handmade and healthy options featuring fruits, sandwiches, salads and snacks. Additional offerings include donuts and pastries, freshly prepared breakfast & lunch sandwiches and an extensive beer cave featuring local and craft beers.

The employee roster includes Brad Powers, Twice Daily general manager; Kayla Hurst, White Bison Coffee manager; and Corrine Claghorn, White Bison Coffee manager in training.

Rocket City Trash Pandas, Halsey Foodservice Announce Stadium Partnership

MADISON — The Rocket City Trash Pandas and Halsey Foodservice have announced a long-term strategic partnership for food distribution and stadium sponsorship.

Halsey will be the exclusive provider of food and food service products for the Rocket City Trash Pandas stadium. (Photo/Halsey Foodservice)

With the agreement, Halsey Foodservice will be the exclusive provider of food and food service products for the Trash Pandas’ stadium, which opens in 2020.

“We are excited and honored to have Halsey Foodservice, headquartered in Madison, join the Trash Pandas family,” said team President and CEO Ralph Nelson. “Not only is Halsey Foodservice synonymous with quality products and superb customer service, but Halsey is one of the most iconic names in North Alabama’s rich history of growth and community service.

“This partnership will go a long way toward our well-documented goal of making the Trash Pandas’ food and beverage program second-to-none in Minor League Baseball.”

As part of the agreement, Halsey Foodservice has been named a Founding Partner of the Trash Pandas and the new stadium.

The 140-year-old company will be the sponsor of the new stadium’s William L. Halsey Suite Level which will feature a timeline chronicling the company’s history throughout the suite corridor. The W.L. Halsey logo will be prominently displayed at the front of the suite level, as well as on the stadium’s video board in right field.

“Halsey Foodservice is proud to be a part of this latest expansion for Huntsville, Madison, and the surrounding area,” said Owner, President and CEO Cecilia Halsey. “My family and, particularly, my father have long been committed to the growth and success of the Huntsville area from fundraising for the UAH campus, Redstone Arsenal, and his early involvement with the space program. My father’s love for this community has been evident and long-lasting.

“I am committed to carrying on my father’s legacy of community involvement and what better way than to form a strategic partnership with BallCorps and the Rocket City Trash Pandas. The Trash Pandas will be a central catalyst in bringing the community and its people closer together.”

The Trash Pandas will open their inaugural season next year with their home debut set for April 15.

Town Madison is Scoring with Residential and Hotel Construction

MADISON — Soon … very soon, Town Madison will be a lighted beacon along I-565, a welcoming 530-acre gateway into the Rocket City for visitors from the east and west.

Town Madison is a sprawling multi-use development extending along I-565 from Wall Triana Highway to Zierdt Road. (Courtesy The Breland Companies)

The shear enormity of the sprawling mixed-use development is on full display amidst the “preponderance of red soil” that gave Redstone Arsenal its name.

Town Madison has already inspired a boom of construction and activity in downtown Madison. It is changing forever the skyline along I-565 between Wall Triana Highway and the intersection of Madison Boulevard at Zierdt Road.

The new stadium with its red roof is now clearly visible amidst the towering LED stadium floodlights and churned red dirt and rocks. Fans of the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the tenants of the new ballpark, are already decked out and geared up for the team’s first pitch at their new home stadium on April 15, 2020.

While the energy is moving toward a April 15, 2020 Opening Day, there is a lot more going on at Town Madison than just baseball!

Phase I Residential

Described as having a “Village of Providence feel”, the first phase of Town Madison’s residential community consists of 216 single-family homes and townhouses, currently under construction.

Townhouses are rising from the red dirt to the north of the baseball stadium. (Photo/Kimberly Ballard)

The Village of Providence was one of Huntsville’s first mixed-use communities built off U.S. 72 in 2003. It has been a shining example of how popular pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and the amenity-filled lifestyle have become.

Single-family home lots are already selling out while a sales model of the townhouses graces the main drag a block from the stadium itself. Soon, potential buyers will be able to tour the layout and make preconstruction customizations to fit their lifestyle.

Currently the most visible residential component to rise from the red clay is The Station at Town Madison, a four-story, 274-unit luxury apartment complex, also within walking distance of restaurants, retail stores, the sports complex, and a slew of boutique hotels and destination resort hotels like Margaritaville that will be opening there.

“The Station is opening a leasing office within the next 45 days and will be moving new tenants in by the end of the year,” said Joey Ceci, president of the Breland Cos., which is developing the project. “I believe they already have plenty of interest and even some commitments from potential tenants who are interested in moving into such an exciting environment.”

500 Hotel Rooms

Rendering shows the 170-room Hotel Margaritaville which will be just beyond the centerfield wall of the Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball stadium.

Ceci said hotels have always been an important component of Town Madison and progress on that front has been explosive. Convenient to Huntsville International Airport and I-565 and I-65, the new 97-room Home2Suites is open at 135 Graphics Drive, a block off Wall Triana at the westernmost edge of the development.

On the corner, a new Twice Daily convenience store and White Bison Coffee have also opened. Next to it, the 87-room avid Hotel is 50 percent complete, while a Hilton Garden Inn has broken ground a block up the street.

“The Town Madison target is 500 rooms,” said Ceci. “We will hit that number when the 170-room Margaritaville resort hotel breaks ground by the end of the year or very early next year.”

Announced back in 2018, the groundbreaking for Hotel Margaritaville has been delayed, putting into question whether Margaritaville with its tropical beach atmosphere, attached restaurant and lazy, winding river said to flow along the backside of the Trash Pandas centerfield wall, is still a go.

Ceci however is reassuring that Margaritaville will be in full swing by the Trash Pandas’ second season.

Pro Player Park

Other exciting venues such as Pro Players Park are committed to Town Madison, although construction has not yet begun.

The $12 million venue for travel softball and baseball will consist of 12 synthetic baseball/softball fields; a 65,000 square-foot sports facility with batting cages; a pro shop; a small café and vending area; and an indoor soccer field.

Pro Player Park will be situated west of the Trash Pandas’ stadium in what is known as the old Intergraph campus. No dates have been set for that groundbreaking, but it is expected to generate 300,000 visitors a year and, according to Madison Mayor Paul Finley, will yield about 40,000 room nights per year.

Restaurants and Retail

Finally, Ceci believes several restaurant concepts will be making announcements soon about their plans to open at Town Madison on the Zierdt Road side.

“Negotiations and discussions are happening every day with several restaurant and retail vendors and I believe we are very close to some solid commitments, but nothing I can announce today,” said Ceci.

Along with several national commercial tenants who are currently doing their due diligence, several announcements are expected in the coming weeks.

From Old Times to New Times: Bad Daddy’s has ‘Bad A**’ Burgers

If the first few days are a predictor, one of Huntsville’s newest eateries is headed for success.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar, which opened Sept. 23 in the new Times Plaza at 2317 Memorial Parkway, launched with a big turnout.

Former Huntsville Times Publisher Bob Ludwig checks out a Bad Daddy’s Burger. (Photo/Wendy Reeves)

“It’s gone pretty well,” restaurant manager Jason Gagnon said soon after closing the first day. “We’re all a little excited, but it’s been good.”

The place was even buzzing with staff hurriedly serving tables full of patrons at 4 p.m. two days later.

The restaurant, the chain’s first in Alabama and 37th nationwide, advertises “Chef-driven burgers, chopped salads, artisan sandwiches, and local craft beers.” The motif has a Huntsville flavor with artwork from local photographer Olivia Reed part of the decor.

The first Bad Daddy’s opened in 2007 in North Carolina.

Times Plaza assumed the address once occupied by The Huntsville Times. Former Times employees gathered to recount old stories and check out the culinary and craft beer offerings during a “soft opening” two days before the burger bar opened to the public.

This is a Bad Ass Burger by Bad Daddy’s. (Photo/Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar)

There were some 32 former employees visiting their old haunts with a combined 791 years of service with the newspaper. Among them were this reporter and Huntsville Business Journal editor Bud McLaughlin, who gave the restaurant’s signature Bad Ass Burger a review of “excellent.”

The burger is billed as featuring a 10-ounce beef patty, housemade American cheese, horseradish mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle and, according to McLaughlin, the star of the ensemble: “Deep-fried bacon.’’

While Bad Daddy’s churns out food where The Times’ newsroom once churned out stories, the site that housed the former production building includes Super Chix, Stone Age Korean Steakhouse and Regymen Fitness.

Super Chix is based in Dallas and specializes in frozen custard in addition to chicken.

Stone Age, operated by local restaurateur Min Liu, will be all-you-can-eat barbecue with an eclectic mix of vegetables, sauces, and other sides.

 

For Founder Larry Lowe, Fractal Brewing Blends the Old and the New

Leave it to an electrical engineer to select a math term to name his new business.

Fractal Brewing Project is ready to take your order. (Photo/Eric Schultz)

That’s what Larry Lowe did in branding the Fractal Brewing Project, which opened Sept. 18, in the building that once housed local craft micro-breweries Olde Towne and Straight to Ale but has been empty for the past two years.

Fractal, as defined by Random Word, is “a never-ending pattern in mathematics built from repeated shapes that are reduced each time they repeat.”

Sounds cool, even for those of us who have no idea what it means.

Cool also defines the renovated tavern at 3200 Leeman Ferry Road. The look of the place will be somewhat new to former patrons of the site under its old banners — the tap room has been relocated, Lowe brought in wood for tables and tabletops that was locally sourced, two large barn doors separate the tap room from the event area, for instance.

But, Lowe added, while he expects customers to make new memories, he also hopes the vibe the former tenants provided is the same. Olde Towne in the early 2000s and Straight to Ale some five years later were the first breweries in the city since prohibition ended.

“If there was ever a historic marker for craft beer in Huntsville, Alabama, it should be this building,” Lowe said as workers prepared to place signs on the building the day before the doors opened for business. “I wanted to try to preserve the building, try to preserve the old character of the trail blazers that came before.

“When I was going through the process and told people what I was doing, their eyes would sparkle and they’d say,’ You know, I met my husband there,’ or, ‘I had my baby shower there,’ or ‘I had my brother’s funeral (wake) there.’ There were so many good memories in this building and it was such a community place. That’s what I wanted to do. Give everybody a new experience but preserve the character of the old place.”

Lowe spent 22 years in the defense industry after graduating Grissom (Class of ‘93) and then Auburn (MS in ‘99, Ph.D. ‘01). He served as vice president at Huntsville’s GATR Technologies and was part of the executive team that put inflatable SATCOM antennas on the market.

Cubic Corporation bought GATR in 2016. Lowe said he “hung around for three years during the transition” but wanted to move on to something different. He had served as vice president at GATR under Paul Gierow, the president, and wanted to be in charge of his own business.

Fractal Brewing Project is open ready to serve its customers. (Photo/Eric Schultz)

“I was itching to try to do something else,” he said. “Watching Paul run the company, I was just kind of riding shotgun watching Paul make all the decisions. I had the itch to see if I could run my own business and being the one to call all of the shots.”

Professional brewer and retired Marine Brad “Robo’’ Robinson is on board after stints as brewmaster at four sites, including two in town. Tap room manager is veteran Justin Wenz. Fractal has event space, a catering staging area and is wired for conferences and live music.

Lowe said his staff is capable, allowing him to spend some time with wife Amanda and their three children. That doesn’t mean he won’t been seen at his new “Project.”

“I never found that you could be creative in your cubicle or the board room,” Lowe said. “Those aren’t creating meetings. I found the most creating environments were places like breweries where people gather and dig into the next problems and minds get creative.”

Gold Sprint: A Tale of Bikes and Beans

Differentiation is in the details.

The cozy, eclectic interior of Gold Sprint is very welcoming. (Photo/Steve Babin)

With so many new tantalizing third-wave coffee hangs popping up in Huntsville, there’s only one that features a trike-riding stuffed raccoon that’s toting a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Add to that are felt pennants, elaborately designed skateboards, and a multitude of karate trophies.

Gold Sprint Coffee + Bikes is destined to be eclectic, funky, yet still serve you up a memorable cup o’ Joe.

The shop and its quirky décor promise to be quite the unique place to hang out or telework.

Within easy walking distance of the Huntsville Parks and Recreation office, Trailhead and Lowe Mill, Gold Sprint sits at the corner of 1st Street and 9th Avenue with Huntsville West and Urban Engine a good solid walk or bike ride away.

Everything about Gold Sprint has been well-thought out and carefully executed. From the bar design, to the kitchen and the main area tables and seating, there are no accidents.

“We want to be that third space between work and home.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

Although the vibe is geared toward avid and recreational cyclists, the space promises to have guaranteed appeal teleworkers, soccer moms, and aspiring entrepreneurs.

“We want to be a destination location,” said owner Victor Burlingame.

Burlingame’s years of experience in the cycle shop world have prepared him for this moment.

“The bike shop influences how we work here,” he said. “We are the ‘fixed gears’ of coffee shops. Fixed gears appeal to different people. If fixed gears are what gets people into bikes, the same analogy can apply to coffee.

“There is no ‘wrong’ drink.”

Then, there’s the coffee.

“For our roasts, we are working with Domestique, a socially responsible coffee importer and roaster and also the best coffee in Birmingham,” said Burlingame.

The newly minted staff of established baristas is committed to providing a quality product and top-notch customer service.

“Personality is as important as coffee and we want to give customers the best product for their dollar,” said Burlingame. “We want to be that third space between work and home.”

Inspired by the iconic Bottletree café in Birmingham, Gold Sprint has plans to book live music.

“There’s a lot of homogenization of the world because of Pinterest and Instagram,” said Burlingame. “If we build something, they (our competitors) will have to copy us.”

 

 

 

 

Huntsville’s Burgeoning Regional Economy Part 2: Right-sizing Lifestyle with Quality of Life

(This is the second and final installment of a two-part story on the area’s growing economy.)

Recently, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle shared his vision for Huntsville in terms of an average sized pie. He, along with business owners and civic officials, stood at city center – what Battle calls Huntsville’s “living room” – and looked out in every direction to the edges of the pie’s crust.

What they see are active growth corridors ushering in a significant expansion of the original Huntsville pie, which is accelerating economic growth throughout the North Alabama region.

“Instead of dividing the pie into fifteen different pieces that get smaller the more users you add, we made the whole pie bigger so we could divide it up differently with more restaurants, entertainment and activity venues, more places to spend retail dollars,” he said. “With a bigger pie, each slice is more valuable.”

The success of Twickenham Square, a multi-use development built right in the heart of downtown Huntsville’s medical district and anchored by The Artisan luxury apartments and a Publix, has spurred the development of four more multi-use (multi-purpose or mixed-use) sites in the downtown area.

These developments require the right balance of residential, retail, and commercial space, usually surrounded by a pedestrian-friendly traffic pattern, walking trails and/or parks, and plenty of amenities and activities.

Sealy Realty’s Avenue Huntsville (and the new Avenue Madison); CityCentre at Big Spring with the new AC Hotel by Marriott; the long-awaited Constellation, breaking ground this fall on the old Heart of Huntsville site at Clinton Avenue; and a new development by Rocket Development Partners on the former site of the Coca-Cola plant on Clinton Avenue across from the VBC are either already established or coming soon to downtown Huntsville.

“People ask whether mixed-use/multi-use developments are replacing traditional malls and shopping centers,” said Battle. “But I think you have to look at each one individually. People are looking for more live, work, play types of environments, but I think what we are seeing today is a shift. Is it permanent? Probably some of it is, but I won’t be surprised to see it shift back.”

Max Grelier, co-founder of RCP Companies who developed the AC Hotel as part of CityCentre, as well as MidCity District on the old Madison Square Mall property, agrees.

“Retail centers are not dead. They’re just changing based on consumer behavior,” he said. “Old-style retail centers still play a role in our communities. A good ‘convenience’ style retail center is needed to support suburban neighborhoods.

“However, retailers across most retail center formats are shrinking their footprints and using technology and distribution to keep up with the trends and competition.”

But Battle points out that many online retailers, such as Duluth Trading Company who have been online-only retailers, are building mortar-and-brick stores like the one they opened at Town Madison in June.

And even online behemoth Amazon is now putting stores throughout the U.S.

“I just got back from Nagoya, Japan where they still have huge department stores that are very active because people want to look at what they’re going to buy, touch it, experience the kind of cloth it’s made of and see how it fits,” Battle said.

“When you look at Parkway Place, they are doing very well, and we recently added an apartment component to Bridge Street Town Centre to add a ‘live’ component to it and Research Park’s work and play.

“But when you look at the old Madison Square Mall, it could be found on a site called DeadMalls.com,” Battle said. “We built a lot of malls back in the 1960s and 1970s – probably too many. I think we are now right-sizing back to what we need. There’s still a place for pure shopping like Parkway Place, but I say you need both to succeed.”

Charlie Sealy of Sealy Realty has developed several residential properties including The Belk Hudson Lofts and The Avenue Huntsville, which also has a retail component in downtown Huntsville.

Sealy is also building Avenue Madison that will have a retail and parking component in downtown Madison. He said the trend for new developments will be weighted more towards multi-use developments in the future.

“However, the older style shopping centers and malls won’t be replaced anytime soon unless they are old, obsolete, and really in need of replacement anyway,” said Sealy. “These [mixed-use] developments are definitely what residents and consumers prefer now because of the experience they produce.”

Grelier said the mixed-use developments come in a variety of styles.

“These developments are a type of urban development strategy that blends residential, commercial, cultural, institutional, and/or entertainment uses to initiate more consumer interactions by creating walkable, livable, and experiential communities,” said Grelier. “Mixed-use developments can take the form of a single building, a city block, or entire districts.

“Traditionally, human settlements have developed in mixed-use patterns; however, with industrialization of the U.S., as well as the invention of the skyscraper, governmental zoning regulations were introduced to separate different functions, such as manufacturing, from residential areas.”

Joey Ceci, president of The Breland Companies, which is developing Town Madison and the new Clift Farm project on U.S. 72 in Madison, sees it differently.

“I think we are seeing the death of the supercenter more than malls,” said Ceci. “Those centers with huge parking lots and a row of big box stores lined up next to each other – for one thing people just don’t like that huge parking field and, two, from a developer’s standpoint, if something happens and a business closes or moves out, it is very difficult to repurpose that huge space left behind by a store the size of Target or TJ Maxx. You can use a big box space for a trampoline center or an entertainment center, but you can’t put a restaurant in there.

“Multi-purpose developments are making that space work better by integrating residential into it via restaurants and everyday neighborhood retail like a dry cleaner or hair salon. The idea is to take the new urbanist movement that everyone is following and make smaller blocks of space so that if, in 20 years, that block is no longer viable, knock it down and put something else there. It’s a matter of making it more sustainable over time.”

Sustainability is the focus at Town Madison where Madison Mayor Paul Finley is looking to more than the casual Rocket City Trash Pandas fan to help build out that development.

He’s getting some help from travel sports and softball/baseball recruiters and scouts who will enjoy the regional draw of the new Pro Player Park, just off Wall-Triana Highway.

“The new Pro Player Park and everything Town Madison offers will definitely get foot traffic to our hotels; however, workforce development secures regional success which will also help us locally in aspects of infrastructure and schools,” said Finley.

Finley also points to the success of the Village at Providence, one of the area’s very first mixed-use developments built in 2003, as an example of how popular pedestrian-friendly mixed-use communities have become.

“A mixed-use development offers a live-work-play experience right outside of your front door,” said Finley. “This is appealing to young professionals, established mid-lifers, and retirees alike. These developments are multigenerational that attract businesses to the area.”

“Mixed-use developments are replacing declining malls because they are often well-located within a region that affords them premium access and site metrics,” said RCP’s Grelier who is striving to make the old mall property economically viable again. “When this is the case, there is typically strong demand for several multiple property types such as hospitality, residential, office, restaurants, and retail.

“Single-use commercial centers are becoming more difficult to sustain given changing consumer behavior related to online shopping, and demographic trends focusing on experiences rather than traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.”

However, Grelier said when they purchased the old mall property in 2015, they had a strategy ready for MidCity.

“We began working with the city and Urban Design Associates (UDA) to create a mixed-use project that would meet market demand and help reverse the decline of the West Huntsville commercial corridor,” he said. “We also had a broader, more aspirational strategy in collaboration with the city to use the MidCity District as regional economic growth tool by addressing the ‘next-generation’ workforce demand in Cummings Research Park.”

Grelier said they engaged nationally known market research consultants to perform third-party market studies to guide them in developing programming for a proper balance of uses.

“We used the information from the studies to collaborate with the City and UDA to produce a complete district business plan that would maximize regional draw by creating diverse layers of use and programming at the property,” Grelier said.

“Much of the emphasis is on highlighting our local cultural assets and identifying destination venues like TopGolf, public parks, and an amphitheater to establish a foundation around art and culture.”

He said this is now happening through connections with Huntsville’s and Muscle Shoals’ regional music legacy to bring a world-class 8,500-capacity amphitheater to the development.

“We believe the amphitheatre will be very successful and play a vital role in the elevation of the region as a place you want to live,” Grelier said. “There’s a strong demand for weekend entertainment so the music initiative happening in North Alabama will not only keep locals from traveling to spend in nearby markets, it will attract more weekend tourism to our region.”

Sealy said there is a strategy involved in where they build these mixed-use developments as well.

“These developments are really a long-term strategy in the sense that consumer preferences are shifting this way, so we are building for what is more popular now and appears will be more popular in the future,” he said. “… We are trying to draw certain people and jobs from other cities.  These developments are a recruiting tool and regional draw when we are competing against bigger cities for the same talent.

“Some people, particularly millennials, desire this type of environment for living or work, so we need them to attract that population …. They will spread through the regional area, but they need a certain density of people to work, so they will be concentrated in the growth corridors where the population and jobs are the largest.”

And, now, there is something for just about everyone.

“You hear people say, ‘Huntsville has some pretty cool breweries downtown, I can have some fun on Friday night, go see a baseball game, spend the night, go shop at Bridge Street, play some TopGolf, and get brunch at Stovehouse on Sunday’,” said Ceci. “It makes us a lot like Chattanooga – a kind of weekend destination where people say, ‘Wow! Huntsville is a great place to go for the weekend. There is always something to do.’”

Sealy said the mixed-use strategy is rewarding.

“I enjoy working on mixed-use projects because there is a huge emphasis on architecture, walk-ability, streetscape,” said Sealy. “The multi-use developments are a bigger challenge, but it is a rewarding creative process.”

Battle said the revitalization of one area pays benefits to the entire city.

“The Live, Work, Play strategy has always been our city plan,” said Battle. “Revitalize one area using the profits of another area we have revitalized and watch the spread of that revitalization until eventually the whole city is revitalized from one end to the other in every direction.”

Madison Chamber Calls for Nominees for Best in Business Awards

MADISON — It’s an opportunity to call out your favorite businesses as the Madison Chamber of Commerce ask for nominations for the Best in Business Awards 2019.

Now through Sept, 6 at 5 p.m., businesses can be nominated in 12 categories for their outstanding services, products and customer service.

“We are excited to be kicking off the Best in Business Awards 2019,” said Chamber Executive Director Pam Honeycutt. “We have introduced some new categories this year to best represent our growing membership. We look forward to learning more about all of the great businesses that make up the Chamber.”

Every year, the Chamber re-evaluates the categories to ensure businesses are not competing in like categories.

“We did away with Home & Living and added Professional Services, Essential Services, and Arts, Entertainment & Hospitality this year,” said Honeycutt.

There will be one overall Best in Business 2019 award given along with nominee and winners in Nonprofit, Small Business with four or more employees, Health & Wellness, Start-ups, Community Servant of the Year, Culinary Business of the Year, Excellence in Leadership & Service, and Medical Practice of the Year.

Nominees must be a member in good standing of the Madison Chamber of Commerce for at least six months. The winners will be announced at the Best in Business awards banquet Oct. 22 at the Insanity Complex Entertainment Center off Hughes Road.

To nominate businesses, visit  http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07egj7kwh8jzbqlz9v/a013ojzrw4zk6/greeting.