City Opens Haysland Road from Grissom High School to Redstone Road

Things are moving along in South Huntsville and they will be moving along a lot easier now.

On Tuesday, “Phase II” of Haysland Road through the Hays Farm development was opened from Grissom High School to Redstone Road.

Mayor Tommy Battle, City Council President Jennie Robinson, and Director of Engineering Kathy Martin cut the ribbon for the two-mile roadway.

The two-mile roadway includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space. (Photos/Steve Babin)

Haysland Road provides a parallel road in the city’s growing southern corridor to ease congestion on Memorial Parkway as well as provide direct access to Grissom High School and Redstone Arsenal.

The $8 million project includes a 12-foot-wide multiuse path through approximately 250 acres of preserved open space.

The Hays Farm development will include single-family homes, apartments and townhouses to complement retail businesses and a nine-acre city park.

Area Housing Market Builds on Summer Success; Sales, Prices Up; Inventory Continues to Dwindle

The Huntsville area housing market continues to show its resilience in the wake of the pandemic.

The number of house sales and prices in the third quarter increased over the third quarter last year while the number of available houses continues to fall, compared to the same period in 2019.

The latest quarterly Huntsville Area of Real Estate Economic Report by the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors illustrates the strength of the local market.

“This summer, we reported a successful quarter through the pandemic largely because of the responsible and dedicated work of our Realtor members in our communities,” said HAAR President Sha Jarboe.“Our latest report shows higher-than-usual sales activity for this time of a typical year. We are thankful for our partnership with the UAH College of Business to offer this analysis to the public.”

According to the report:

  • Residential real estate prices continue to rise while the number of homes sold remains at a record level. The median sales price climbed to $254,991 in the third quarter of this year, some $33,193 above the median sales price of $221,798 in the third quarter of 2019. Meanwhile, there were 2,621 houses sold with 759 sales pending compared to 2,250 sales and 595 pending in the third quarter last year.
  • Inventory continues to register at historic lows, falling in every price range this quarter. There were 910 houses available at the end of the third quarter.  There were 926 homes available at the end of June (second quarter) and 1,226 at the end of the third quarter 2019. Of the homes available, there were only 40 homes priced below $150,000.  The greatest number of homes listed for sale was 227 in the $350,000-$500,000 price range.  The $200,000-$250,000 price range had the second most with 170 homes listed which was down from 207 homes in the second quarter.
  • Houses stayed on the market for less than three weeks (a record low of 19 days) in the third quarter, half as long as this time last year.
  • Months of Supply fell to less than one month (24 days) compared to nearly two months at the end of the third quarter in 2019.
  • 17 homes valued more than $800,000 were sold in September 2020, contributing to a monthly sales total double that of any other month since 2010 when this data was first recorded by UAH.

 

 

City Unveils Rendering of New City Hall

You may not be able to beat City Hall, but you can sure build one.

Rendering shows the new Huntsville City Hall on Gates and Fountain Circle, across from the current municipal complex. (Rendering by Goodwyn Mills Cawood)

And the City of Huntsville will be doing just that.

The city unveiled architect renderings of its new City Hall planned for downtown.

The building is expected to cost between $60 million and $70 million and the city is hoping for a ground-breaking next spring. Construction is expected to last about 18 months.

The architectural firm Goodwyn Mills Cawood is overseeing the project and unveiled the renderings at Thursday’s City Council meeting.

The new City Hall will house all of the city’s departments. Currently, some departments, such as engineering, community development and inspections, are leasing office space outside of City Hall.

A birds-eye view of the proposed Huntsville City Hall (Rendering by Goodwyn Mills Cawood)

City officials have said moving all departments under one new roof will save money and be more energy-efficient.

The building will occupy the site of the municipal parking garage at Gates Avenue and Fountain Circle, across the street from the current building. The city had said plans call for six office levels and an adjacent five-level parking garage.

The city approved plans for the new municipal building last year because the current City Hall, which was built in 1963, does not meet Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, building or fire standards.

Also, citing the building’s failing structural integrity, facade issues and mechanical systems (elevators, HVAC and the like) that are “at the end of their useful life,” city officials agreed renovations would cause a financial burden.

 

 

Huntsville Housing Market is Healthiest in Alabama

A healthy housing market is stable and affordable.

And, according to a study by New York-based SmartAsset, Huntsville has the healthiest housing market in the state.

In fact, Madison County is home to four of Alabama’s 10 healthiest markets. Huntsville is joined by Harvest at No. 2, Madison at No. 5 and Meridianville at No. 6.

In assessing the study, SmartAsset, a financial technology company, considered four factors: stability, affordability, fluidity and risk of loss.

Affordability accounted for 40 percent of the  Healthiest Markets Index, while each of the other three factors accounted for 20 percent. When data on the four factors was unavailable for certain cities, those cities were excluded from the final rankings.

To read the study and methodology, visit https://smartasset.com/mortgage/mortgage-calculator#Alabama

Huntsville Housing Sales Up 28% Over Year Ago; Inventory Continues to Dwindle

In the midst of the pandemic, people continue to look for and buy houses in the Huntsville area. But the number of houses available continues to dwindle.

The latest figures from the Alabama Center for Real Estate bear that out.

There were 874 houses sold in Huntsville last month, a 28.7 percent increase over the 679 houses sold in September 2019, ACRE said in its monthly report.

Huntsville’s inventory of houses listed for sale in September decreased by 316 when compared to the same period last year. The number also decreased from 963 houses in August to 910 houses available in September – a 5.5 percent drop. The houses available included 478 existing single-family residences, 426 “new builds” and six condos. In September 2019, there were 1,226 houses available.

“Historical data indicates that September inventory on average (2015-19) decreases 1.5 percent from August,” according to the ACRE report. “The current month’s (September) inventory decreased 5.5 percent from last month’s total of 963 homes.”

For home sales, the increase is magnified by the quarterly comparison, as well. Residential sales for the third quarter of 2020 totaled 2,621 units, representing an increase of 11.5 percent when compared to 2,350 units that were sold in the third quarter of 2019.

The number of houses sold in September is also an increase over August’s 818 residential sales, which is out of the norm.

“Historical data indicates that September residential sales on average (2015-19) decrease from August by 9.2 percent,” the report said. “This month’s (September) sales increased 6.8 percent from the prior month.”

However, the median sales price for homes in September – while up over a year ago by 12.8 percent – were down from August by 4.6 percent. In September, the median sales price was $251,432; August’s median sales price was $263,640.

“Historical data indicates that September median sales prices on average (2015-19) decrease 0.9 percent from August,” the ACRE report said. “The current month’s median price decreased 4.6 percent from the previous month.”

The average sales price was also down from September to August, which is normal, but just by 1 percent.

“Historical data indicates that September average sales prices on average (2015-19) decrease by 2.9 percent from August,” the report said. “The current month’s average price decreased 1 percent from the prior month.”

Houses are also on the market for just 17 days in September, a drop from 18 days in August and a decrease of 17 days from 34 in September 2019.

“Average days on the market is anticipated to remain within the current range (15 – 65 days) for the foreseeable future,” ACRE said.

Huntsville Rent Increase Among Highest in the Country

Huntsville’s growth is putting a strain on the housing market with a limited number of properties in its inventory.

Now, a new analysis shows rental prices are rising above the national average during the global pandemic. In fact, Huntsville had the seventh-highest increase at 10.5 percent, according to the analysis by AdvisorSmith.

The numbers showed:

  • The rent increase in Huntsville is 11 times higher than the average increase nationally.

  • The weighted average rent in Huntsville jumped from $1,004 in 2019 to $1,068 in September 2020.

  • Huntsville had a higher percentage rent increase than Hoover (6 percent for No. 69) and Mobile (5.9 percent for 75th).

The pandemic has created major changes for Americans in personal and professional lives. One place where the pandemic has caused waves is in the residential rental market, with dramatic increases and decreases in rents in certain communities in the country.

For its analysis, AdvisorSmith examined the trends in rental prices in more than 500 U.S. cities to determine where rents are rising and falling the most.

Rent prices for studios, one-,two-, three-, and four-bedroom rental units in September 2020 were examined and compared to average rents in 2019. For each city, AdvisorSmith determined the weighted average increase or decrease in rents based upon each city’s composition of rental housing units. They then ranked the top 100 cities where rents are rising and falling the most.

The analysis showed rents increased an average of 0.9 percent during the study period. However, the range of rent changes was very wide, with the largest decrease being -34.7 percent, and the largest increase being 12.5 percent, as Americans made new choices about where to live based on shifts in the economy.

The cities where rents rose the most in the past nine months include cities on the outskirts of major metropolitan areas, as well as some midsize cities.

The top 10 cities are: Stockbridge, Ga., 12.5 percent; Avondale, Ariz., 11.6 percent; Spokane Valley, Wash., 11.3 percent; Chino, Calif., 10.8 percent; East Point, Ga., 10.7 percent; Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 10.7 percent; HUNTSVILLE, 10.5 percent; Ridgeland, Miss., 10.4 percent; Goodyear, Ariz., 10 percent; Augusta, Ga., 9.6 percent.

Rents fell dramatically in some of the nation’s most expensive cities for renters. The top three spots were taken by cities in Texas and North Dakota with economies focused on oil and energy. With the price of oil plunging due to a reduction in driving during the coronavirus pandemic, demand for housing in these communities has fallen substantially.

Also highly represented in the top 25 were cities in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, the Boston metropolitan area, and a few suburbs of Washington, D.C. Many of these cities, which have some of the highest rents in the country, contain professional and technical workers, many of who have been working from home for much of the year.

Urgent Care for Children Opens Doors to Huntsville Clinic

The wait is over for Huntsville residents seeking access to pediatric care in the after-hours.

Urgent Care for Children, a Birmingham-based pediatric urgent care provider, opened its doors Thursday for patients ages 21 and under with minor illnesses and injuries.

The newest clinic, at 2785 Carl T. Jones Drive across from Valley Bend Shopping Center, operates  2-10 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

“At Urgent Care for Children, our job is to complement your primary care pediatrician and offer an
affordable, convenient alternative to the emergency room,” said CEO Bannon Thorpe. “I believe we have one of the best medical teams in our field, who are consistently recognized and receive some of the highest patient ratings in the industry.

“It can mean a lot to have a pediatric specialist when you have a child not feeling well, and we are excited to bring convenient access to quality pediatric medical care to a new area of Huntsville.”

While the location will be new for the rapidly-growing company, it is not a stranger to Madison County.

“After opening our Madison clinic in September 2019, it quickly became apparent that there was a demand for us to expand our quality care services to (southeast) Huntsville,” said Neal Owens, vice president of real estate. “We selected Jones Valley based on its proximity to the growing community of families and schools.”

The after-hours clinic will also be offering coronavirus testing for children and adults. Since March, Urgent Care for Children has made COVID-19 testing available for everyone.

Visit www.childrensurgent.com.

Houston Firm Plans Luxury Apartments at Hays Farm

A Houston development group announced plans for a 330-unit apartment project at Hays Farm in South Huntsville.

In a news release Friday, Bomasada Group said it has acquired a 15acre site in the Hays Farm masterplan development to develop Liam at Hays Farm Apartments, a 330unit, Class A” apartment project. The company is in the design phase of Liam with construction scheduled to begin in the spring.

Bomasada specializes in developing luxury multifamily properties in secondary and tertiary markets throughout the Southeast and Southwest

We have been looking in the Huntsville market for several years as it perfectly fits our development strategy,said Bomasada President John Gilbert. We continue to be amazed by the energy of the city, the exponential job growth and the highly educated and skilled workforce. We are especially pleased to be part of the revival of South Huntsville and part of the future of Hays Farm that also includes a Publixanchored shopping center, 450 new homes, offices, restaurants, Grissom High School, and hundreds of acres of greenways, open space and water features.” 

Bomasada Chairman and CEO Stuart Fred, a board member of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, echoed Gilberts comments.

Huntsville is one of the most dynamic cities in the country,” he said. “The research and development conducted by the military and aerospace industry is remarkable. We appreciate the citys varied businesses, entrepreneurship and Southern hospitality.” 

After looking at numerous sites throughout the areaBomasada focused on Hays Farm in resurging South Huntsville.

We are thrilled to welcome Bomasada to South Huntsville,” said Huntsville City Councilwoman Jennie Robinson, who represents South Huntsville. The Liam will bring a new multifamily housing product to our area to help meet exploding market demand. It will be an important part of the Hays Farm development and play an important role in revitalizing the South Parkway.” 

Gilbert said the company learned of the Hays Farm plan last year.

We were introduced to Hays Farm late last year and immediately decided we wanted to be part of this exciting development,” he said. “The entire Hays Farm team John Hays, Jim Hays, Jeff Enfinger and Mecca Musick have been a pleasure to work with. They are creating a wonderful place to live, work and play that will leave a legacy for the city of Huntsville.” 

Bomasada also has spent the last year coordinating with City of Huntsville Business Relations Officer Harrison Diamond as well as Bekah Schmidt, executive director of the South Huntsville Main Business Association.

We have developed all over the country and Ive never seen a more open, accessible and helpful city government,Gilbert said

Year-to-Date: Huntsville Area has Seen More Than $1 Billion in New Capital Investment and 850 New Jobs

Did someone say there is an economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Well, the facts on the ground do not bear that out here, according to the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce. 

“With COVID-19, this has certainly been a challenging year, but in spite of all that is happening, Huntsville still continues to see job growth in all parts of our City,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “Whether it’s Torch Technologies in South Huntsville, Dynetics in Cummings Research Park, or TriRx in Chase Industrial Park, there are buildings going up and sites being delivered.

“When you combine that with the ongoing work at North Huntsville Industrial Park with Facebook and Toyota and the numerous projects at Mazda Toyota, it’s a remarkable statement to the resiliency of the Huntsville market and its industries.”

Year-to-date economic growth figures show the Huntsville metropolitan region has accrued more than $1 billion in capital investments from new commercial projects, company expansions, and from companies that have increased the scope of previously announced projects in 2020. That growth will also result in 852 new jobs across the region.

“Throughout 2020, Madison County and Huntsville have continued the work in bringing new and innovative business and industry to our community while also supporting expansions among our industry partners,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “Our diverse economy continues to be robust year after year. With a focus on workforce development the future of the Rocket City and Redstone Arsenal will continue to drive the economy of Alabama and southern Tennessee.”

The bulk of the growth will come from four large Huntsville company projects and four smaller, but significant, projects this year. However, due to coronavirus restrictions limiting celebratory groundbreakings, grand openings and open house events, many of these projects have been operating under the public radar.

“We want to celebrate every expansion, but this year, it has been challenging to do that in a safe way,” said Lucia Cape, the Chamber’s senior vice president of economic development. “These companies are important to our community and to the people they employ, and we want to recognize their growth.” 

Rendering shows the Freedom-Torch-Invariant facility from the south parking lot.

Torch Technologies leads with $32.3 million in investment on two recent expansion projects that will bring 120 new jobs to Huntsville. 

First announced in April 2018, Torch has completed its Technology Integration and Prototyping Center (TIPC) with two-story office space and an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility at the corner of Chris Drive and Vermont Road in South Huntsville. Constructed by its sister company, Freedom Real Estate & Capital, the center includes a 35,000 square-foot lab and solutions facility.

According to board member and Torch President & CEO John Watson the new facility will allow Torch to take on projects of greater complexity.

“These projects will range from developing instruments that will completely change how warhead testing is accomplished, to re-engineering products that protect our nation,” Watson said.

The second Torch expansion is part of a partnership with the Invariant, a Huntsville-based engineering services and software development company founded in 2001. 

Invariant President David Anderson: “We have been neighbors with Freedom Real Estate and Torch Technologies for several years and look forward to continuing those relationships.” (Rendering/Invariant)

Invariant is investing $430,000 in a 92,000 square-foot facility as part of a mixed-use facility being built by Freedom in South Huntsville. 

The facility will consist of office, research, development, and manufacturing space. They quietly broke ground in May and expect the facility to be complete by next summer. Invariant’s growth will produce 23 new jobs.

“We are excited to grow and expand into this new facility that will provide our employees the resources needed to ensure quality services and products are delivered to our customers,” said Invariant President David Anderson. “We are proud to be a part of Huntsville’s continuing success. We have been neighbors with Freedom Real Estate and Torch Technologies for several years and look forward to continuing those relationships.”

Japan-based freight and logistics provider Nippon Express USA will invest $19.1 million in its location on the campus of Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, U.S.A. over the next two years. They expect to hire more than 100 employees over that period.

After being acquired by Leidos in January, Dynetics will add up to 200 jobs associated with weapon development work, and has hired hundreds of people this year in support of the Human Landing System and other projects. The expansion brings the company’s local employment to 2,740. 

Those four expansions represent a total of 510 new jobs and $71 million in investment.

Four more companies, Aldez, TriRx Pharmaceuticals, Palco Telecommunications and Ridgeview Industries have also significantly expanded in Huntsville.

Aldez is an inventory management and distribution company and has a new facility near the sprawling Mazda Toyota Manufacturing facility. (Photo/Aldez)

Aldez is an inventory management and distribution company with a focus on the automotive industry. Its operations in the SouthPoint Business Park, a couple of miles from the Mazda Toyota plant, will provide maintenance, repair and operations crib management and distribution center services for the MTMUS facility.

“This new, state-of-the-art facility is a strategic move that will allow us to serve MTMUS manufacturing’s newest automotive facility in Huntsville, Limestone County, and enable further growth with their supplier base,” said Aldez COO Mike Byrne. 

“These economic development projects have changed the future of our county by their investments and job creation,” said Limestone County Commission Chairman Collin Daly. “The opportunities provided to our community through these projects will have a lasting impact for years to come.”

TriRx Pharmaceutical Services celebrated its one-year anniversary in Huntsville in May. According to Timothy C. Tyson, chairman and CEO, the Huntsville Liquids, Creams and Ointments Facility has grown from a small number of employees to more than 250 people as of June. 

“We would like to thank our employees, our customers, and our community for their amazing support,” said Tyson. “We continue to be focused on and dedicated to the patients we serve. This has been an exciting year accented by growth with a passion for delivering on our commitment to our customers. And we have just begun.”

Palco Telecommunications, a post-sales supply chain management company started in Huntsville in 1986; and Ridgeview Industries, Inc., a metal stamping and welded assemblies’ manufacturer for automotive OEM, have also among the announced expansions in Huntsville.

“It is exciting to see these quality organizations continuing to grow, building off of their previous successes and adding even more jobs in our community,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “I am excited about the opportunities these companies bring for our region as we continue to grow together.” 

Construction of Mixed-Use Development on Governors Drive Set for Early 2021

Developers of a mixed-use “I-565 gateway” to Huntsville’s Westside have released a preliminary rendering of the project and anticipate a “first quarter 2021” construction start.

Preliminary rendering of the planned mixed-use development on Governors Drive in Huntsville’s Westside. (The Beach Company)

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, a Charleston, S.C.-based development company.

The multibuilding community will feature 342 multifamily units, including 14 townhomes; 9,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space; and 48,000 square feet of Class A office space.

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 neighboring Stovehouse complex and will feature pedestrian walkways between the two developments.

“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.”