South Huntsville Business Opportunities Revealed on Possibilities Tour

Dale Carnegie once said, “We all have possibilities we don’t know about.”

The South Huntsville Main Business Association hosted a bus tour for business owners interested in business in the southern end of town. (Photo/Steve Babin)

The South Huntsville Main Business Association showed off its potential this week with a “Possibilities Tour” of the upcoming Hays Farm development.

The organization welcomed business owners and potential business owners who may be looking to start a business or open a location on the busy south end of town.

In spite of the rain, a couple dozen people ranging from those interested in doctor’s offices to restaurants, retail stores and, even, office space took the tour.

At the post-tour luncheon, SHMBA Executive Director Bekah Schmidt laid out everything that is happening on the 850-acre Hays Farm development. Included in that is the former Haysland Square, renamed The Market at Hays Farm, and the Huntington shopping area.

“A lot of people know the daily traffic counts along the Parkway in that area are anywhere from 52,000 to 75,000 cars a day, making it very appealing,” said Schmidt. “But we wanted to show people there is much more coming, and there are additional benefits to opening a business on this end of town that people don’t know about.”

SHMBA Executive Director Bekah Schmidt said there are “additional benefits to opening a business on this end of town that people don’t know about.” (Photo/Steve Babin)

She said there will be retail, restaurant and office space surrounding the $3.6 million City Centre Park off the Parkway; and there are also outparcels of land available for purchasing and building.

At the Market at Hays Farm, there will be 1,000 square feet to 5,000 square feet of space available, some with kitchen space already set up for restaurants.

“We also want people to know that while downtown Huntsville is a hot spot right now for retail, that space may run you $30 per square-foot and up,” Schmidt said. “You can get the same amount of space in South Huntsville for $12 to $25 per square foot.

“And when you get in on the ground floor of a growing development like this, we can tailor the space to your specific needs, while later on, you will not have as many customizable options.”

The Market at Hays Farm is scheduled to open in late summer or early fall 2021.

Ready for Prime Time – Extreme Makeover: Hughes Plaza Edition

MADISON — As the area continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it’s hard to miss the unmistakable red clay and construction cones on any given road, on any given day.

Madison and Huntsville are on the fast track of redefining our communities, one slab of cement at a time.

Along with a host of brand-spanking new construction, there also has been significant redevelopment and extensive renovation on many existing structures. One property in particular is Hughes Plaza.

Hughes Plaza, across Hughes Road from Madison City Hall, was once a well-known retail destination. Over the years, the 59,071 square foot mixed-use property has fallen into disrepair and low occupancy.

Thanks to local physicians Jon and Alicia Krichev, the shopping center will soon be getting a makeover, complete with a newly upgraded façade and enhanced landscaping.

A business opportunity led the Krichevs to Hughes Plaza.

The Krichevs, along with Jon’s sister Jessica and her husband Chris Leven own Bicycle Cove in Hampton Cove. Last year, when Madison Cycles closed at Hughes Plaza, the Krichevs saw this as an opportunity to expand their business and set up shop in the same location in the Plaza.

However, the Krichevs were not happy with the plaza’s condition.

So, after a series of connections with mutual friends and business partners, the Krichevs became owners of the building and are fully dedicated to returning Hughes Plaza to its former glory.

Build it and they will come.

The revived Hughes Plaza “has the potential to become a beautiful and exciting development where people meet for bike rides, runs, lunches, and shopping trips.” (Rendering courtesy of Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate)

Currently, Bicycle Cove is the only tenant. Once renovations are complete, the Krichevs anticipate other health, wellness, and fitness retail concepts will follow along with perhaps, a restaurant and brew pub.

One exciting new tenant will be Fleet Feet, the running/walking specialty store.

Slated to open this summer, the 6,200-square-foot retail space will include an indoor running track. Fleet Feet has more than 180 stores in the United States with three Alabama locations — Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville – making the Hughes Plaza location the fourth in the state.

Suzanne and Dink Taylor, owners of the Huntsville store in Jones Valley, are thrilled about opening a store in Madison.

“Our Huntsville location has been up and running for 16 years and we’ve loved every minute of it,” said Suzanne. “We’ve wanted to open a second location in Madison for a long time and everything finally came together.

“The location, timing, and means all worked out and we can’t wait to create a home for our Madison-based clientele.”

Hughes Plaza is less than a mile from downtown Madison and the up-and-coming Avenue Madison mixed-use development.

The closest major intersections are Mill Road and Old Madison Pike. Madison Boulevard and I-565 are within easy access of the Plaza. Major grocery chains Publix and Kroger, along with Walmart are all in close proximity.

Krichev believes that the redevelopment of Hughes Plaza will benefit the Madison community by creating an exciting new hub for shopping, dining, and wellness.

“We want to renew what was once a vibrant focus of commerce for the surrounding neighborhoods,” said Krichev. “This center has the potential to become a beautiful and exciting development where people meet for bike rides, runs, lunches, and shopping trips.”

 

 

 

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.

Reserve at Research Park Apartments Sold for Reported $81 Million

Symbolic of the growth in Huntsville and its anticipated growth, a nearly 35-year-old apartment community was recently purchased for a reported $81 million.

According to a news release from The Kirkland Company, a Nashville-based brokerage firm, the Reserve at Research Park was purchased by Covenant Capital Group from B&M Management. The acquisition is the largest transaction in the area’s history, according to the brokerage firm.

Eric Hardesty and Wade Lowry brokered the sale of the 736-unit multifamily community for Kirkland. The property, formerly known as Rime Village, was built in several phases from 1987-94.

“Huntsville is receiving national attention for its rapid growth, strong economy, and recent development,” said Hardesty. “It has been Alabama’s fastest-growing city over the last 15 years and will soon be the largest city in the state.”

B&M Management of Montgomery sold the property on Explorer Boulevard off University Drive to Covenant Capital Group, a Nashville-based value-add investment manager. Its focus is on the acquisition and renovation of apartment communities in major Southeastern and mid-Atlantic markets.

B&M Management has been in Alabama for more than 25 years with a portfolio of some 8,500 units and $1 billion in market value.

This is the sixth transaction brokered by Kirkland in the Huntsville area within the last nine months, representing 1,842 units and more than $103 million.

“Employers are investing big in Huntsville,” said Lowry. “Companies like Toyota, Boeing, GE … are infusing capital into the engineering and manufacturing industries.

“The FBI is investing $1 billion at Redstone Arsenal with plans to add 4,000 jobs, and tech companies like Facebook and Google are also developing a presence there.”

Nashville-based Kirkland specializes in selling apartment communities in nine states across the Southeast.

Huntsville Real Estate Market Ends 2019 on High Note

The Huntsville Real Estate Market set a record pace throughout 2019, ending the year on a high note, according to a report released today.

The Huntsville Area Association of Realtors’ Fourth Quarter Real Estate Economic Report, conducted by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, found sales grew by more than 15 percent compared to the same quarter in 2018, with 1,995 homes sold in the quarter.

“We witnessed major growth in our industry last year, as more choose to make Madison County their home,” said HAAR President Sha Jarboe. “While this is great news for our city and industry, it also presents challenges as inventory reached historic lows in December with less than 1,000 available homes for sale.

“This report reinforces the need for attainable housing in our area and, as community advocates, Realtors stand ready to work with our local builders to make sure they have the skilled labor they need to meet our area’s construction needs. We also look forward to our continued collaboration with local leaders to support sensible laws that support the American dream of homeownership.”

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Prices of homes sold continued to rise significantly from 2018. Median sales price rose 11 percent to $239,643 and average sales price increased 7 percent to $258,014. The price escalation can be seen in the decline in the number of homes sold in the less-than $150,000 homes and significant increases in the $200,000-$250,000 (20.5 percent) and the greater-than-$350,000 range (18.5 percent).
  • Average monthly pending sales rose to 456, up 16.6 percent from the 2018 fourth-quarter level.
  • Inventory of homes available for sale fell to the lowest level since 2001 with only 993 homes listed at year’s end.
  • The average days on market for the quarter was 35 days, down from 38 in the third quarter and from 48 in the fourth quarter 2018. At this level of sales, there was an average of only 1.3 months of supply during the quarter.

For information and to see the full report and other reports, visit haar.realtor.

Sitdown with Success: Louis Breland: An Old-School Developer Leading New-school Developments

This month’s installment of the Huntsville Business Journal’s series “Sitdown with Success” features developer Louis Breland. “Sitdown with Success” spotlights local entrepreneurs who describe their successes and failures.

Tell us about your very first touch with Town Madison and how you got involved.

We had developed a lot of property on Madison Boulevard that we still own, and we used to have offices out there.

Louis Breland (Photo/Steve Babin)

I was looking out the back window one day at a gorgeous tract of land I had my eyes on for a while. I knew Intergraph founder Jim Meadlock owned it and he didn’t need to sell it. But this day there was a tractor clearing trees! I’m thinking, “Holy smokes! I should have been calling on this property!’’

I knew Mr. Meadlock was a really nice man and I had his phone number, so I called him up and said, “Mr. Meadlock, did you sell that property because I see a tractor over there?”

He said, “No Louis, it’s just some farmers clearing trees for me. Do you want to buy it?”

I said absolutely, and negotiations started there.

It looks like such a huge and complex development. Did you know that going in?

Town Madison is actually a relatively simple development. Except for having to put in interstate ramps and things like that are complicated and takes a long time, but Breland has always done fairly large residential communities. My first Huntsville development, Autumn Ridge, is probably 800 homes.

I’ve watched cattle farms turn into major cities, so I recognized that Town Madison is in an incredible location – 2½ miles of interstate frontage and a gateway to the city. It had everything you could want in terms of a location. Town Madison started out as just a great piece of real estate at a great price.

Jim Meadlock and Intergraph owned most of the property and the rest was smaller parcels owned by four or five individuals, so we had to arsemble all of it.

You mentioned Autumn Ridge as your first Huntsville development. You came to Huntsville from Mobile?

I started a homebuilding company in Mobile in 1976 and we were building throughout Mobile, Gulf Shores and Baldwin County on the eastern shore.

A friend invited me to come to Huntsville around 1982 or 1983, to see all the activity. President Reagan had poured money into the Huntsville and Madison County market to support the military buildup for Star Wars.

The market was just exploding! The market is really good now; it was better then. There was very limited competition and there was room to put in subdivisions and build houses. And buyers were lined up.

Within the week, I decided to move here, and we closed our Gulf Coast operation. By comparison, the coast was a very tough market: in Baldwin County, you could barely sell a house.

From the day we started in Huntsville it was on fire – successful from day one. You had a tough market nationally but here there was a shortage of housing and lots of land available for development.

To get started in the development and home building business, do you just start buying land?

Correct. Within just a few months we bought a 400-acre tract of land on South Parkway (Autumn Ridge) and a big tract of land at Zierdt Road where the Edgewater community is now.

You have been involved in this part of town for a long time.

Wayne Bonner of Bonner Development developed Edgewater, but I was one of the first to buy land from him to build houses. Lady Anne Lake was just a bunch of trees back then.

Mountainbrook was one of the first developments at Edgewater. I bought 100 lots that became Mountainbrook and Heritage Woods.

What has it been like being in the homebuilding and commercial development business and still come out on top, with all the volatility over the years?

Louis Breland with Toyota Field in the background. (Photo/Steve Babin)

You have to remember, back then, interest rates and energy were not predictable. Oil goes from $50 a barrel to $150 a barrel; inflation starts in, the Feds raise interest rates and you go from 8 percent to 10 percent to 12 percent, 14 percent and then back to 10 percent. There’s nothing in the real estate business – nothing – predictable. It is always changing. But the difference between then and now, I believe, is that 100 percent of energy came from the Middle East and we had no real energy policy in place.

It was just crazy what fluctuations in energy and interest rates would do. It was always a roller coaster.

And interest rates are like oxygen for a homebuilder and interest rate volatility is very hard on us. It cuts off your oxygen and the higher the rates go – it starts choking you and you have no control over it – period.

But despite this, we thrived here in the Huntsville market. We probably had 30 to 35 percent of the homebuilding market here – 30 to 35 percent of all homes sold were Breland Homes. We were by far the largest builder here.

Has the business changed much?

Extremely different.

Back then there was no one to buy lots from. We bought 100 acres, built the lots, developed all of the infrastructure like roads and utilities; built the homes, sold homes, and we financed them. So we were very integrated – from raw dirt to turning on your stove for the first time at move in.

Now, if you just want to be a homebuilder and not get into development, you can just go buy lots from someone.

How did you survive the financial and real estate collapse back in 2006 through 2008?

I’m old school.

That housing boom was not real world. In the world I grew up in, you had to have real credibility. You had to have real equity and real money which meant you had to put 30 sometimes as much as 50 percent in cash down to get a deal to make a development happen.

I did not participate in that because I could never understand how somebody who couldn’t qualify to borrow $100,000 could borrow $100 million.

We saw some of it coming.

We owned one of the largest privately held self-storage companies in Alabama, Mississippi and South Florida.

In 2006, we sold it for almost $100 million, so we were very liquid. When it collapsed, we had a lot of inventory, but we were liquid, so we bought over 100 communities in great land locations out of bankruptcy at giveaway prices. And we did not go back into the market.

I told everybody here, “This is either the most incredible buying opportunity in real estate, or the largest sucker hole we’ll ever go through – but we’re going to go for it!”

J. Alexander’s Restaurant Coming to Town Madison

 

J. Alexander’s has been announced as the first restaurant for Town Madison.

Mark A. Parkey, President and Chief Executive Officer of J. Alexander’s Holdings, said the new J. Alexander’s restaurant will be on a 2.8-acre site at the entrance to Town Madison on Town Madison Boulevard.

Town Madison is a 560-acres mixed-use development focused on residential, office, retail and entertainment.  The Breland Co., one of the largest commercial and residential developers in the Mid-South, is the developer and Minneapolis-based Shea Design is the architect of the restaurant.

Parkey said plans for the new restaurant will include approximately 7,350 square feet with seating for more than 200 guests.  Approximately 100 full- and part-time professionals are expected to be employed.

“We are extremely pleased to announce plans for our newest J. Alexander’s restaurant,” Parkey said.  “The signing of this lease follows extensive research to identify the most desirable site in this premier community.  Town Madison boasts a superb business climate and quality of life.

“Over the years, we have earned a loyal following of guests from the greater Madison County region at our J. Alexander’s restaurant in Franklin, Tenn., and our Redland’s Grill in Hoover.  As such, we are excited with the opportunity to be in Madison and bring discerning guests the finest in classic American cuisine created by culinary professionals and a concept that spans nearly 30 years.”

Parkey said construction is expected to begin this spring with an opening scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Known for its wood-fired cuisine, the J. Alexander’s menu will feature a wide selection of American classics – hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood, prime rib of beef roasted on the bone, and premium sandwiches, along with a large assortment of interesting salads and homemade desserts.  J. Alexander’s restaurants also offer an outstanding selection of award-winning wines by the glass and bottle.

The Nashville-based company operates 47 restaurants in 16 states.
 

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.

 

Bobo Development Closes Funding for Madison’s Alexandria Apartments

MADISON — As Bobo Development Group announces the closure of the funding phase of its multifamily luxury apartment development, residents are one step closer to having a new, “future-ready” place to call home.

The Florence-based investment group raised a total equity of $11.8 million, closing its funding phase last month.

The group plans to begin construction of Alexandria Apartments on a 16.54-acre site just west of Madison Medical Park on Balch Road no later than Jan. 31.

BDG entered into a joint venture partnership with Michigan-based Electrical Capital Partners and Florida-based Morrison Avenue Capital Partners. Blake Janover of Janover Ventures, Miami, Fla., helped source construction financing of $28.3 million from BancorpSouth. Birmingham-based Capstone Building Corp. will be the general contractor for the project.

Keeping in step with the area’s technologically advanced population, residents of Alexandria Apartments will enjoy a variety of “smart” amenities, such as cold storage lockers for grocery delivery services, electric vehicle charging stations, a “functional fitness” center, and resident programs focused on 360-degree whole health.

“The Huntsville Metro area is home to a multi-faceted population of professionals, a large percentage of them transplants. These people are looking for a living space that makes daily life a little easier while nurturing a community” said James Bobo, II, CEO of Bobo Development Group and the project’s developer.

“By creating a future-proofed space, the community our residents create can stand the test of time.”

Alexandria Apartments will include 258 units consisting of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments along with 29 garage units equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. It will also feature a dog park and clubhouse with a co-working space.

The total capitalization of the development will be $40.1 million, according to Bobo Development Group.

Visit bobofamilygroup.com.

 

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.