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.

South Huntsville Businesses Receive Facade Improvement Grants

There will soon be a new look to some South Huntsville businesses.

Nearly a dozen small businesses will be able to improve their storefronts, facades and even landscaping thanks to Façade Improvement Grants, the South Huntsville Main Business Association announced.

Business owners applied for the grants, sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union. The businesses demonstrated how the improvements to their storefronts would affect the overall appearance, quality, growth and vitality of the South Huntsville district.

The grants provide up to two-to-one in matching funds for 11 projects ranging from $800 to $4,000. The total economic impact is $184,000 in the South Huntsville community.

“The Façade Improvement Grants are contributing to a positive business environment in South Huntsville,” said Bekah Schmidt, executive director for the South Huntsville Main Business Association. “Through the grant, we are encouraging the revitalization of buildings and supporting business improvement. We look forward to seeing these projects completed over the next six months, and greatly appreciate our presenting sponsor, Redstone Federal Credit Union for making this all possible.”

The grant program is part of South Huntsville’s participation in the Main Street Alabama, a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization. South Huntsville was designated a Main Street Alabama community in June 2018.

The following businesses and or shopping centers will be utilizing the matching grant funds to complete façade renovations, building enhancements, or landscape improvements.

  • Angel’s Island Coffee Shop
  • Apollo Animal Hospital
  • Bubby’s Diner
  • Das Stahl Bierhaus
  • Earth Touch Garden Center
  • Eleanor Murphy Library
  • 8200 Memorial Parkway
  • Off the Rack Boutique
  • Main Street South
  • Sabghi’s Jewelers
  • Village Center

For information, call 256-701-2290, email bekah@shba.biz or visit southhuntsvillemain.org/façade.

CityCentre to Become City’s Social/Cultural Epicenter

As Huntsville continues to grow and evolve, its downtown is going through a metamorphosis of its own.

And, sometime in the next decade, Huntsville will eclipse other cities in the state economically, culturally and in population.

Speaking of Eclipse, that’s the name of the newest project that will add to the downtown skyline.

We are thrilled to bring the Eclipse – a Spring Bay Residence to our Huntsville community,” said Lindsey
Pattillo Keane, manager of Marketing and Property Activation for RCP Companies. “CityCentre is a destination that strengthens Huntsville’s urban core and complements a growing number of new downtown offerings and existing cultural amenities.

CityCentre will feature a three-part public art commission, artisanal market and social hall across from Big Spring Park. (Rendering/RCP Companies)

“This is the epicenter of downtown Huntsville where important connections are made that will improve pedestrian movement and enhance already-successful city-sponsored activities.”

Eclipse is a 278-unit, multifamily residential project will include studio, one- and two-bedroom units above 18,000-square feet of upscale restaurants and retail.

“This dynamic design highlighting modern luxury and classic charm will offer residents a courtyard pool, gated dog park, and stunning panoramic views of Big Spring Park,” Keane said.

Eclipse will be adjacent to the AC Hotel and will include a unique art walk and market place.

“This site will feature Huntsville’s largest three-part public art commission thanks to partnerships with CityCentre, Arts Huntsville, City of Huntsville, Community Foundation, and Redstone Federal Credit Union,” Keane said. “We are also currently finalizing design on our carefully curated, artisanal market and social hall.”

The project is expected to be finished by the end of 2020.c

Vertiv Joins Stovehouse as Newest Office Tenant

Vertiv, a global IT infrastructure provider, will join the Stovehouse development on Governors Drive in West Huntsville, according to a release from Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate and Stovehouse Properties.

Recently ranked as the No. 1 supplier of remote IT management devices worldwide by analytics IHS Markit, Vertiv  expects to complete its move by the first quarter next year and will remain open at its facility on Corporate Drive during the move. Vertiv brings together hardware, software, analytics and ongoing services for data centers, communications networks and commercial and industrial facilities.

“Our new site at Stovehouse will help us match the facility to our people and our business,” said Patrick Quirk, vice president and general manager, IT systems at Vertiv. “When we decided to relocate, we prioritized finding a facility that captured the innovative nature of our company. We have roots as a small, Huntsville-based IT management device startup (formerly Cybex, then Avocent), so having the chance to connect our history with the historic Martin Stove factory was an opportunity we couldn’t miss. It should be able to accommodate our growth for years to come.

“We are excited to create a modern, collaborative work environment that builds on the bones of this historic structure. Our new office will incorporate a state-of-the-science development data center, training and demo space within a high-energy, community-driven environment. We plan to make it a place that will draw in fresh new talent and take care of our current employees.”

The owners of Stovehouse said they are excited to have Vertiv on board.

“It’s an honor to have Vertiv join our list of office tenants at the Stovehouse campus,” said Danny Yancey, owner and developer of Stovehouse. “We hope that the development will offer several amenities that are coveted in the modern workplace, like access to local cuisine, fitness studios, leisure activities, and many other things we plan to add in the future.

“Vertiv will be able to highlight these features when attracting new talent to its team.”

Estimates show when Stovehouse is at full capacity there will be around 500 people working on campus daily at the businesses along with thousands of visitors coming for food and nightly entertainment throughout the week.

“Stovehouse was created to blend the modern workplace with opportunities for leisure,” said Crunkleton’s Eric St. John. “Developers have put together an exceptional space for both emerging and established businesses like Vertiv. Office users have an enhanced quality of life thanks to other nearby services that make their workday more enjoyable and productive.”

 

Huntsville Prepares for the Future: Parking Problems or Problem with Perception?

Change is hard but it has never stopped Huntsville from rising to a challenge.

In the same way we adjusted to becoming the Rocket City in the 1960s; to becoming a booming defense industry maven in the 1990s; and a five-county regional economy over the past decade; Huntsville is looking yet again to the future and sometimes – just sometimes – we get a whiff of frustration as the construction holds up traffic, a red light seems to be holding longer than it used to, or there does not appear to be enough parking at a popular new shopping venue!

Parking spaces have become precious commodities.

As Huntsville continues to grow and expand, city planners are trying to get ahead of the headaches seen in large, fast-growing metropolitan cities by redesigning it as they go for the future, and a central tenet of this strategy involves Land Use.

Land Use is the management and modification, or “urbanization” of a natural environment into residential, commercial, and public “urban open” sectors.

In the past, especially in the past 50 years, Land Use has been geared toward making room for urban sprawl and commercialization at all costs. Shopping centers have focused on gigantic asphalt parking lots where drivers battle constantly for the closest parking spot. Stores sit back off the main thoroughfare to accommodate it, while anxious holiday drivers follow on the heels of customers exiting the storefront like automotive stalkers until they reach their vehicle, either sniping the spot or deciding to try for one that’s closer.

Most of the time however, these parking fields are more than half empty, always built larger than required, leaving an asphalt eyesore and a tremendous waste of land.

In the past few years, Huntsville city planners have been studying Land Use analyses to help reshape Huntsville’s character and to better manage Huntsville’s land and natural environment to fit a more contemporary view of how people live, work and play.

The Shops at Merchants Walk and Shops at Merchants Square on Bob Wallace Avenue are based on “New Urbanism.” While the tenants and some customers perceive there to be insufficient parking, Merchants Square was designed to sit close to the street with some ground-level parking, backed up by a three-floor parking deck.

Jessica Partington, property manager for RCP Properties which developed both shopping centers, said the overwhelming success of the developments has put the need for additional traffic and parking solutions front and center.

“The Shops at Merchants Square has been wildly popular, which is something we will never be upset about, but perhaps a bit more popular than we anticipated,” she said. “When Chuy’s opened, it was a record-breaking opening for them nationwide and no one anticipated how popular it was going to be.

“Of course, we are not upset by that but with that came some unexpected challenges.”

She said that as of now, the parking ratios required for that venue are not showing they are under-parked in terms of code compliance, but there are a couple of things at play.

“Employees are required to park on the upper level of the deck but because there is not what most people perceive as being much parking at ground level, we find that people don’t always go all the way up the deck,” she said. “And on weekends, we find there are parking spots at that last hook in the parking deck and up top that people miss.”

Partington said there is a lot of construction work during the day and construction vehicles in the deck that take up a lot of room and are taking up some spaces that would normally be available.

“But we are nearing the end of that, so it won’t be a problem much longer,” she said. “Also, Aspen Dental will have their own ground-level parking and when they are finished, people can park there at night and on weekends when the problem seems to be worse.”

According to Kelly Schrimsher, director of communications for Mayor Tommy Battle’s office, Huntsville is experiencing some growing pains that can be easily addressed by changing people’s perception.

“The Shops at Merchants Square and the Shops at Merchants Walk on Bob Wallace Avenue are the perfect example,” Schrimsher said. “There is actually plenty of parking. You just have to look at it from a more efficient Land Use perspective and tie it to where the future will be taking us.

“We are rethinking parking requirements to better fit a model for the not so distant future where people are walking more, are driving more electric cars, where more people are using services like Uber, and where people will walk outside the store or restaurant and ‘dial their car’ to come pick them up. Although it may sound farfetched now, it is not so far away from reality.”

Rendering shows an example of a crosswalk idea for Bob Wallace Avenue.

The city is also working on a couple of solutions they believe will help alleviate the Bob Wallace traffic and parking issues as well.

“We are building a decorative pedestrian crosswalk from the much larger parking lot at the Shops at Merchants Walk that will be visually appealing and substantial enough to slow the traffic down on Bob Wallace so people can safely cross back and forth,” said Shane Davis, director of urban and economic development for Huntsville. “The city is acquiring material quotes for the intersection improvements and expect to have it completed in early January. It will also really dress up the area.”

Made of “stamped thermoplastic material” with a brick, stone and slurry concrete design, Davis said it will provide for improved pedestrian crosswalk safety, more driver awareness at the intersection, and overall improved aesthetics of the area.

Over the next year, visitors to that part of the city will also see sidewalks up and down both sides of Bob Wallace from the Parkway to both shopping centers, and down the road there are plans for an equally decorative crosswalk across Memorial Parkway at the Bob Wallace intersection.

“The city also has a plan to connect Regal Drive on the Parkway Place side next to Belk, to the Shops at Merchant Square,” said Partington. “Those through-roads will alleviate some of the traffic flow and allow people to walk a little bit, which we are doing more of in Huntsville.”

“It is a little bit of educating people and preparing them for what we know is coming in the future,” said Schrimsher. “Downtown Huntsville residents have been going through this same evolution since its revitalization began.

“The days of fighting for a parking spot right in the front door and every individual business having their own asphalt parking lot is being phased out and shared parking is being phased in,  If you live downtown, strangers may park in front of or near your home. And they are using parking decks and Uber rather than driving their car everywhere.

“But people who choose to live downtown in areas like Twickenham Square and Avenue Huntsville, do so for the convenience, the amenities, and the pedestrian-friendly environment. They do not have to jump in the car to drive to the grocery store or a restaurant or to have their hair cut or grab a cup of coffee. If they live in these areas, they adjust to it and even enjoy it.”

According to the city’s statistics, Huntsville is a sprawling city overall, but it has population density pockets such as downtown of more than 5,000 people per square mile, making it comparable to cities such as Pittsburgh, Pa., and St. Paul, Minn.

Interestingly, Five Points is an excellent example, originally developed in the early 1900s as a “streetcar suburb” that was not designed for the automobile and is still, today, easily walkable because of it.

Compare that to Cummings Research Park, which was established in 1962.

Designed for driving, originally, there were no restaurants, retail or residential originally allowed within the park.

That began to change when, 1982, the city purchased land and it evolved into Cummings Research Park West. In 2007, Bridge Street Town Centre was developed and it now includes more than 80 restaurants and stores and two hotels. An apartment building has since opened and a third hotel will open soon.

Some sections of Research Park East are being rezoned for small, very condensed multi-use developments, multistoried and sitting close to streets so as not to waste land. The parking will be enough, but it will not be a sprawling field of asphalt.

Tenants can expect some retail-like coffee shops and cafes, and perhaps even hotel rooms on the upper floors to alleviate having to jump in your vehicle for every errand.

Residents are already seeing bikeshares in Cummings Research Park for quick and emissions-free runs.

There are more pedestrian-friendly multi-use developments such as the Village of Providence, downtown’s Twickenham Square, Town Madison along I-565, and MidCity on the old Madison Square Mall property, following a popular trend across the U.S. where people are demanding less pollution, less asphalt, less traffic and more outdoor-friendly landscaping, easier accessibility, and more walkability.

“We recognize that our residents need more mobility options, especially when it comes to urban development,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “With each new project, we look to create safe and unusable connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists as well as public transit and motor vehicles.”

Huntsville Business Journal Sitdown with Success: Bill Roark

Sitdown with Success is a feature of the Huntsville Business Journal spotlighting local entrepreneurs and their path to success and advice for future entrepreneurs.

It’s easy to see why employees on Torch’s campus, that is home to Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate and Capital, LLC, are so happy.

We sat down and spoke with Bill Roark, Torch’s co-founder and Freedom Real Estate’s CEO, and it was clear to see that employees are a top priority of the 100 percent employee-owned companies.

Bill Roark on his key to success: Good people. I’ve been able to surround myself with really good people. (Photo/Steve Babin)

And it is because of the employees and management’s vision and direction that Torch Technologies was one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Companies in America, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, and on multiple selections on the Inc. 5000 list recognizing the Fastest Growing Private Companies in the U.S.

How did you get started in the business?

Torch Technologies was founded in 2002 and I stepped down as CEO from Torch at the end of 2018. Torch and Freedom are sister companies and under the umbrella of Starfish Holdings for which I am chairman of the board. Freedom Real Estate was started, mostly in the beginning to be an alternative investment for the profits Torch Technologies was making. It was a way to diversify a little bit and it’s been very successful.

What obstacles did you face/how did you overcome them?

Early challenges were cash flow.  The company grew very quickly and started to hire people.  We had to have cash to pay them.  We initially used my home equity line of credit, but as the company continued to grow, we took on some angel investors.  We were fortunate to get good investors who were supportive of the company and were not invasive into the operations.

How are you able to keep your business relevant?

We are constantly updating and changing things to respond to a changing market.  Every year assess exactly where the company is.  We also look at where we want to be two years from now.  We then develop a detailed plan to make the changes to make that happen.

To what do you attribute your success?

Good people. I’ve been able to surround myself with really good people.

Early on, I reached out to a lot of folks I had worked with in the past that I knew who were good and those people knew others who were good. We generally get people who fit our culture that want to be here; that want to be doing what we are doing. The people and the culture are really what have driven us.

One of the key things is that everyone has a stake in the outcome.

Everybody is an owner. If the company does well, then they do well. There’s motivation for them to have the company do well.

When the employees are the owners, they benefit from the success of the company.

What is important to your company culture?

Being good stewards of the community.

That has been with us since the early days. We try to always give something back to the community and grow that as we grow. Some of the big projects that the company will take on are decided on the executive level, but we have created a community within the company that decides how to spend the company money.

Any employee can volunteer and help with Torch Helps, the employees decide which community charities are selected.

Several years ago, we considered leaving south Huntsville, but the mayor encouraged us to stay and asked us to help revitalize South Huntsville, so we did. We started buying buildings such as the Freedom Center and Office Park south.

We have spent close to $20 million revitalizing old buildings in southeast Huntsville and bringing them back to a premium where people would want to be in them again.

What advice do you have for future entrepreneurs?

Learn as much as you can about the business area you want to go into.

If you want to start a business in engineering, you will need to get a college degree, a few years of experience and get some customer relationships such that you have the influence to be able to bring the contracts to the company that you start and the experience to justify bringing in those contracts.

It’s important to build relationships with companies that can help you and with government personnel that would be willing to provide the funding.

Also, for decades, we had that belief that everyone needs to go to college to be able to do business. I don’t think that’s as true anymore. There are lots of good trades out there and there’s a shortage of people to work those skilled trade jobs.

 

 

 

 

 

Ground-breaking Constellation Project Taking Shape

It took more than a decade’s worth of sweat and tears for Scott McLain, but he’s finally able to harvest the fruits of his labor with Constellation.

The multi-use development will be breaking ground next month on an apartment complex and that’s just the first of several projects planned at the Clinton Avenue-South Memorial Parkway site.

“We’re off to the races,” McLain said. “We’ll be moving dirt for another month and then pour concrete for the apartments in early December.”

Constellation is at the intersection of South Memorial Parkway and Clinton Avenue. (Rendering/Constellation)

McLain said Constellation will include a 219-unit upscale apartment building, another hotel to complement the Spring Hill Suites; 25,000 square feet of retail space; 20,000 square feet of small office space and a parking deck.

There will also be a 200,000 square-foot office tower that, McLain said, will “only be limited by physics and economics.”

McLain said he’s recruiting restaurants and retailers that will be new to Huntsville to help make Constellation a destination site.

McLain’s vision began in 2007 when the Heart of Huntsville shopping mall was razed and he had a concept of a multi-use development.

Blending retail with dining with hotels was not widely known at the time. The shopping mall with everything under one roof was slowly being phased out for the likes of “galleria-type” shopping centers.

Along the way, he found and lost investors in the project while coordinating challenging situations.

But, as in life, good things come to those who wait.

And a good thing is coming.

An elevated pedestrian bridge will help connect downtown areas with Lowe Mill. (Rendering/City of Huntsville)

“It’s in part a public-private partnership that we’re happy to facilitate for our community,” McLain said.

McLain has a “committed team” that includes a Chicago investment company and $3 million from the city. The city’s investment includes access to parking and upgrades at the intersection.

At the confluence of I-565, Memorial Parkway and Clinton Avenue, the site has the largest traffic count in Huntsville and will, in essence, be the gateway to downtown Huntsville.

Or, in another vein, “the hood ornament to Downtown,” McLain said.

Another part of the “ornament” will be a planned elevated pedestrian bridge by the city. The plans call for it to span the Parkway and provide a connection for downtown, the Von Braun Center and the Lowe Mill area.

With Constellation, the stars are aligning to help a growing Huntsville meet the demands and the challenges of the future.

‘Corner Office’ Coming to 125 North Side Square

 

 

On the corner of the historic downtown Huntsville square, a new face for an old building is underway.

Jimmy John’s will remain open while the “Corner Office” is under construction. (Photo/Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

To be known as the “Corner Office”, the new Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate project at 125 North Side Square will give a much-needed facelift to a property that has seen many lives and uses over the course of its existence. The development will feature retail and modern offices.

A new attractive lobby will be added on the ground floor where offices can receive visitors. There will also be balconies added to the front of the building so, during a busy workday, tenants can step outside and enjoy a breath of fresh air while surveying the busy downtown street below. .

Inside, the spaces will be updated and improved while still maintaining the building’s original charm, such as exposed brick accents.

Contemporary office space will soon occupy the interior of the building.

The first floor will encompass 1,750 square feet of retail/restaurant/entertainment space.

The second and third floors have a combined 7,000 square feet of office space divided into four 1,750-square-foot suites — two on the second floor and two on the third floor.

These suites can also be combined if needed. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

Visit crunkletonassociates.com.

 

 

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.