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.

Report: Madison County Housing Inventory is Lowest in 22 Years

ValleyMLS.com and the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors reported today that the number of active available listings of homes for sale in Madison County is 988, a figure lower than the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) has seen since 1998, when inventory data was first recorded.

The area’s recent success in job and population growth has led to low housing inventory numbers, while new construction and skilled labor to build new houses have battled to keep up with the trend.

“Today’s inventory milestone tells us that, whether you’re expanding or downsizing, there has never been a better time to sell a home,” said Cindi Peters-Tanner, 2020 ValleyMLS.com chair. ”If you were on the fence, these numbers should tell you that now is the time to find a Realtor and list your property.”

HAAR President Sha Jarboe said civic and business leaders should work together to respond to the low inventory numbers.

“We must all re-double our efforts across all organizations and levels of government to ensure we have the housing available for the thousands of new residents expected over the next five years,” Jarboe said. “Foremost, that requires attracting the skilled workers necessary for our local construction companies to keep up with demand.”

Founded in 1948, the Huntsville Area Association of Realtors is engaged in every aspect of the industry, including residential/commercial sales and leasing and appraisal. HAAR also maintains ValleyMLS.com, the leading real estate source in North Alabama.

Visit HAAR.Realtor

 

Redstone Gateway Continues Growth as Government Contractors Seek Prime Office Space

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

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

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

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

The existing office buildings are 100 percent occupied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of those yeses is the Smithsonian Institute.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monroe Manor to Offer Luxury Living Outside the City Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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