Ahead of Spring Opening, AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown Taking Reservations

It hasn’t opened, yet, but Huntsville’s newest hotel is taking reservations.

The AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown, the first AC Hotels by Marriott in Alabama, said reservations are being accepted ahead of its spring opening.

The six-story hotel is across the street from the Von Braun Center and is the first tenant for CityCentre at Big Spring, a $100 million, mixed-use development in downtown Huntsville. The AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown includes 120 guest rooms, AC Lounge, AC Library, co-working space, event space and three meeting rooms named for the city’s mill heritage – Lincoln, Lowe and Merrimack.

“With its Southern hospitality and strong appreciation for the arts, Huntsville is a great match for the AC by Marriott brand,” said Srinath Yedla, CEO of Yedla Management Co., which will manage the property. “The hotel provides everything essential you need – and nothing you don’t – creating a seamless, tranquil and frictionless experience for guests, whether traveling for business or leisure.”

The hotel will be anchored by Atlanta chef and restaurateur Marc Taft’s restaurant—The Gemini Kitchen + Cocktails, which is set to open in the fall. Gemini will be an approachable polished-casual restaurant for those looking for an affordable, quality dining experience. Taft will provide catering for the hotel as well as oversee menus for the hotel’s second-story terrace, The Veranda.

Reservations for the AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown can be made at Marriott.com.

Onyx Aerospace opens office in Stovehouse

Athens-based Onyx Aerospace opens office in Stovehouse


Athens-based Onyx Aerospace has expanded and opened an office in Stovehouse on Huntsville’s Westside. The announcement was made by Stovehouse Properties and Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate.

The aerospace engineering firm will occupy a 2,058-square-foot open-air office space.

“Stovehouse is a vibrant destination that has given us the freedom and flexibility we were looking for,” said Onyx President Steve Hanna. “During our first few months at the development, we found that our team was able to bring ideas to the table faster and get the job done more efficiently. Environment plays an important role when it comes to productivity, and Stovehouse offers a unique work/play setting with food options, entertainment and fresh air when you need to step away from the desk.”

Onyx’s customers include NASA and Boeing and the location provides easy access.

“Onyx has a heavy customer base at Redstone Arsenal and Cummings Research Park,” Hanna said. “Stovehouse is central to our clientele and provides multiple access points to major highways and Huntsville hot spots.”

Hannah said Onyx is a HUBZone company and is looking for ways to encourage growth of HUBZone neighborhoods

“From the beginning, Stovehouse has been clear in its mission to boost West Huntsville by introducing passionate and inventive businesses to the area,” said Stovehouse Properties Owner/Developer, Danny Yancey. “Onyx immediately got behind the project and they have fully embraced the creative atmosphere we’ve cultivated. We look forward to supporting them as they expand their footprint in Huntsville.”



Stovehouse Helps Heat Up a New Westside


Proving something old can have a fresh start is happening behind the brick walls topped by a large red “STOVEHOUSE” sign along Governors Drive just west of Campus 805. By the end of the year, restaurants and retail boutiques will be open there.

Some office spaces are already in use at what is expected to become one the city’s “destination hot spots,” according to Danny Yancey, founder and CEO of Stovehouse.

“There’s nothing else like it in our area,” he said. “People will come here to work, eat, drink, and shop.”

They’ll also attend events at Stovehouse — from concerts to community meetings — maybe even weddings, he said.

It will be an environment, Yancey said, where people can create their own kind of experience with common use areas inside and outside for dining and relaxing.

Construction is moving at a fast pace: six of the seven restaurant spaces have been leased and retail and office spaces are currently being leased.

“I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights because I can see it in my head, what it should look and feel like,” Yancey said. “It’s been a challenge but it’s coming together.”

Yancey used his cumulative background in human resources, mortgage banking and residential construction to put together a solid team to create his vision after he bought the historical building from Davis Lee.

Lee, a well-known poultry farmer and businessman, acquired the Governors Drive building as a potential wood pellet stove production facility before selling it to Yancey three years ago. It had also housed Inergi and, most recently, LSINC.

Yancey’s wife Patti is president of Huntsville’s Liberty Learning Foundation and CFO of Davis Lee Cos.

“I wasn’t out looking for the old Martin stove building,” Yancey said. “But here we are, three years later, building it out and creating a special place for Huntsville residents and tourists who want to experience Stovehouse and all it has to offer.”

Key components were putting together a team with experience in adaptive reuse projects, including Centric Architects of Nashville and Crunkleton Commercial Real Estate Group in Huntsville.

Danny Yancey looks out over the construction at Stovehouse (Photo by Wendy Reeves)

Yancey studied adaptive reuse projects and said he was especially inspired by what he saw happening in Chicago and Nashville, even Paris, Italy and Australia. He hired Centric because of the architect firm’s previous work and their immediate visions for the old building during their first walk through.

“It took about a year of due diligence to come up with an idea of what we might could do with it,” he said. “I visited a lot of adaptive reuse projects because I was really interested in how we could preserve the old building.

“It’s more expensive to do adaptive reuse … but this is a piece of our city’s history and I feel like it’s important to preserve our history.”

Referring to the revitalized area focused on local arts, dining, and brewpubs as the Westside instead of West Huntsville also has historical ties. Yancey said “old timers” interested in the redevelopment have made it known that the area used to be known as the Westside.

Before rockets, Yancey said the area’s largest employers were cotton mills and gas stove manufacturing. The mixed-use Stovehouse development is within in a large building steeped in that history. It started in 1929 when the Rome Stove Co. built it to manufacture its Electric Belle heaters.

After the company went bankrupt, a bid on the machinery and building was won by W.H. Martin Sr. and Charles Martin, who owned King Stove and Range Co. in Sheffield, and Martin Stove and Range Co. in Florence.

In 1939, they started their third business, Martin Stamping and Stove Co., turning out a small line of unvented gas heaters.

Through the years, the Governors Drive plant expanded with many additions to the building, often with whatever materials were on hand. Gas fuel tanks for acetylene torches were used as support posts in some part of the building. Structural engineers have examined the heavy gauge steel cylinders and say they are structurally sound, Yancey said.

There are several roof types throughout the facility, including saw tooth, flat and hip roof designs. Yancey attributes it to periods of fast-paced growth and company changes through the years.

During War World II, for example, he said the company made bomb crates.

“They were huge,” Yancey says of the crates. “If you look around the Seminole and Lowe Mill area and see long narrow houses with lean too roofs, those were leftover bomb crates. The government sold them for a quarter after the war was over.”

After the war, the plant went back to making stoves.

Visitors will find quirky elements and historical connections throughout the site once it’s completed. For example, a gas lighted shopping alley will reflect the heating source for the heaters that used to be made there. But some of those old rooftops will be gone to create outdoor courtyards.

People who think the project is another Campus 805 are wrong, Yancey says.

“They’re totally different but I think they will complement each other,” he says.

Co-developer Wesley Crunkleton said his favorite part of the project is how different it is from anything in the area.

“In our office, we enjoy working on things that are outside of the box as an atypical commercial real estate space,” he said

Crunkleton said ​the property’s​​ ​proximity​ ​to​ ​downtown,​ ​I-565,​ ​and​ ​Redstone​ ​Arsenal will​ ​make​ ​it​ an​ ​ideal​ ​hub​ ​for​ ​businesses,​ ​first-to-Alabama​ ​restaurant​ ​concepts,​ ​new entertainment​ ​and​ ​events.​

“We think it will be well received by all,” Crunkleton said. “From the millennials looking for a new cool spot to families with multiple children it will be a place they can all enjoy.

“I think older Huntsvillians whose families have been around for decades and lived in the area, they will get a kick out of walking through and remembering what it was, the transitions of the property and enjoy what it’s becoming today. We look forward to welcoming the public, soon.”


MidCity Huntsville hoping to snare Trader Joe’s

Conceptual rendering shows Trader Joe’s market at MidCity Huntsville.

Huntsville’s latest retail/dining/entertainment complex is hoping to snare a major market player.

RCP Cos., the developers of MidCity Huntsville – the 100-acre mixed-use community on the site of the former Madison Square Mall on University Drive – has launched a Facebook campaign urging people to contact Trader Joe’s (www.traderjoes.com) to bring the store here.

Last July, Bridge Street and the Village at Providence mounted similar efforts for their locations. Rumors of the grocery store opening in Huntsville – there is one in Birmingham – have swirled for nearly 7 years.

When completed, MidCity will include a total of 350,000 square feet of specialty retail, at least 150,000 square feet of high-tech office space, a wide range of inspired dining options, a 100+ room boutique hotel and 560 amenity-rich residential units. At least 70 percent of the businesses at MidCity will be new-to-market.


As Alabama real estate goes boom, so does Amanda Howard agency

As new home construction sales in Alabama are up more than 6 percent and existing home values have risen more than 5 percent since 2017 according to reports, Huntsville’s Amanda Howard Real Estate™ has invested deeply in the boom with two significant announcements of their own this summer.

On June 28, Howard announced they are officially the newest member of Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, LLC global network and will now operate as Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty.

Founded in 1976, the Sotheby’s International Realty network was designed to connect the finest independent real estate companies to the most prestigious clientele in the world. In 2017, the brand achieved a record global sales volume of $108 billion, a global leader in state real estate franchising. Amanda Howard Sotheby’s International Realty is the second Sotheby’s International Realty affiliate in Alabama; also operating as Kaiser Sotheby’s International Realty on Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Howard’s agency served 861 families in 2017, placing it as one of America’s top 1,000 real estate teams by REAL Trends. The agency ranked 25th in the nation, up 5 spots from 30th in 2016.

“The Thousand” is a national award ranking sponsored annually by REAL Trends, a Denver-based publishing and communications company. Judged for the honor in four categories, Amanda Howard Sotheby’s has shown the skills to grow their businesses year after year, according to Steve Murray, founder of REAL Trends.

“These kinds of results show that those who commit to being full-time professionals can build meaningful businesses and success beyond expectations. Achieving this level of results is simply incredible,” Murray said.

Howard said in her research before choosing Sotheby’s, she discovered home values went up within an average of nine months in locations where a new Sotheby’s office opened.

“In listening to our clients’ needs, and anticipating the growth of our community, we believe we offer unparalleled service in helping with the purchase of a lifestyle, not just a home,” Howard said. “We realize that as a client-driven boutique brokerage, we have the opportunity to provide more. After extensive vetting — we have found the opportunity that will help set our abilities apart from the rest.

“This was astounding to me. Not only was their brand a benefit to the professional agents and the clients they serve, but the surrounding homes in the marketplace increased with it. I am confident this affiliation will be a benefit to our community in an impactful way.”



Ten Years in the Making: The Shoppes at Redstone Square

The Shoppes at Redstone Square on Zierdt Road is scheduled to open July 11.

Timing. Luck. Vision.

Nearly a decade ago, two visionaries – Jim Gendreau, owner of Tailwinds Development in Lake Mary, Fla., and Colliers International Director David Garnett – stood on a desolate corner at Huntsville’s westernmost point outside Redstone Arsenal Gate 7.

Perhaps Redstone’s most discreet entry/exit point, Gate 7 sits at the corner of a narrow, winding two-lane street known as Zierdt Road; and Martin Road, which disappears for most drivers for eight miles across Redstone Arsenal, then reappears three miles from the Huntsville International Airport and the Jetplex Industrial Park.

Make no mistake, 10 years ago there was nothing for nearly two miles south, north, or west of that corner in either direction except a Mapco Mart on the south side, frequented primarily by boaters headed five more miles south to a bend in the Tennessee River to launch their boats.

Where most people see nothingness, real estate developers see potential, and Gendreau and Garnett plotted to build something big there one day.

Something Big This Way Comes

Jump ahead seven years and numerous residential developments had grown up south of that corner including the Willows at River Landing, Legacy Cove, Riverwoods, and The Preserve at Wheeler to name a few. All along Zierdt Road north, are upscale apartments and homes along Lady Anne Lake at Edgewater and along Martin Road west at Natures Walk and Lake Forest.

Three years ago, Gendreau and Garnett, working closely with the City of Huntsville, purchased that same plot of land on which they stood 10 years ago, and built a 101,000 square-foot Publix-anchored shopping center called the Shoppes at Redstone Square. It is expected to open July 11.

“Shane Davis, director of urban development and engineering for the City of Huntsville, was instrumental in helping us get this done,” said Gendreau. “We build in cities all across this country and we have never worked with a city more competent and organized than the people and city leaders in Huntsville – and I’ll tell you something else – Publix loves Huntsville!”

According to Tricor, the leasing agency for Tailwinds Development, the new 45,000 square-foot Publix grocery store at Redstone Square will serve a much-underserved residential area and provide a convenient shopping stop for employees exiting Redstone Arsenal heading home at the end of the day.

“Previously, people leaving the Arsenal have to cross over the busy intersection on Madison Boulevard to stop at the Publix there,” said a corporate spokesperson for Publix. “It is an awkward and out-of-the way route for people living in the Zierdt Road/Martin Road area, or people headed back into Huntsville or Madison.”

In fact, the Publix in the Shoppes at Redstone Square is one of three – two new and one existing – Publix stores within five miles of each other in Huntsville and Madison. The company is renovating space for an even larger, 54,000 square-foot Publix behind Applebee’s at 302 Hughes Road in Madison, scheduled to open in late October. The store at 8000 Madison Boulevard across the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road will remain open as well.

“Publix believes in serving customers wherever they are,” the spokesperson said. “If it takes three stores in a 10-mile area to serve the residents, that is what Publix is willing to build!”

Currently, Tricor has leased space to a yet unnamed nail salon, hair salon, and dentist’s office; however, John Ashby, owner of Madison’s Mangia Italian Restaurant on Hughes Road and U.S. 72, will open a second Mangia location in the north end of the Shoppes at Redstone Square. Known for its pasta, salads, pizza and calzone, the new restaurant is a good 10 miles from their first location.

“We are excited because the Shoppes at Redstone Square should bring in an entirely different clientele for us,” Ashby said. “Located right outside Gate 7 of the Arsenal, we hope to draw a large lunch clientele, as well as new families and customers who love Italian cuisine, but have not had a convenient place to sit down and enjoy a delicious Italian meal in that part of town.”

“Tailwinds owns six parcels of undeveloped land in front of and surrounding the Publix shopping center,” said Gendreau. “Anyone interested in those parcels or in leasing space in the shopping center can contact Deidre at Tricor (deirdre@tricor.net) for more information.

“I’m sure the residents of Huntsville already know this, But the people of North Alabama have a gem when it comes to Huntsville! Everyone we dealt with at the City of Huntsville really knows what they are doing!”

Zierdt Road Construction Updates

One can’t appreciate the extraordinary growth of this part of town without acknowledging the Zierdt Road improvements. Until two years ago, the 3.5-mile stretch of road between Madison Boulevard and Martin Road was one of the curviest two-lane backroads in Huntsville, sneaking underneath I-565 along Huntsville’s razor’s edge boundary with Madison.

The $26 million Zierdt Road improvement project is in Phase IV of four. The two northbound lanes are complete with a non-working red light installed at Nature’s Way. The southbound lanes are 90 percent complete; however, the city is looking at another 30 months of construction to create a 12-foot multiuse path on the west side; seven lanes at the intersection of Martin and Zierdt Road; and six lanes at the intersection of Madison Boulevard and Zierdt Road, which will give access to the new Town Madison project and the new yet-to-be-named baseball stadium at that corner.

That construction begins this fall but, due to traffic issues, is not expected to reach completion until 2021.

‘Main Street Alabama’ designation to make South Huntsville a ‘special place’

Main Street Alabama President Mary Helmer

There may be no specified downtown nor an entertainment district per se.

In fact, South Huntsville’s “main street” is a four-lane divided highway that carries a U.S. route designation.

But, the area that stretches from roughly south of Governors to drive to the Tennessee River is a Main Street Alabama community.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with you guys,” Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama president and state coordinator, said at a news conference Tuesday at the Doubletree Suites. “You’ll know when you arrive, you’re in a special place.”

Helmer said the work will start in early August when a resource team visits to develop a transformation strategy. The team includes Helmer and a group of national experts and the entire process will take place “over the next two or three years,” she said.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle

South Huntsville Business Association President Jerry Cargile

Mayor Tommy Battle said a key to the transformation is the completion of the Parkway overpasses at Byrd Spring Road and Logan Drive/Lily Flagg Road – which he called “disruptive construction.”

“When the Parkway is opened, it bring the market to here,” he said. “All of a sudden, within a 10-minute drive, you have 200,000 people.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, is looking forward to the economic growth the “Main Street Alabama” label will bring to the community.

“The journey begins today,” he said. “From a surviving district to one that is thriving.”


South Huntsville selected as Main Street Alabama Community

South Huntsville has been designated a Main Street Alabama community, according to a statement Friday from the nonprofit Main Street Alabama organization.

The area of Huntsville will join a statewide effort to build stronger communities through effective downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization.

Main Street Alabama uses a national model with a 40-year track record of success to designate the towns and neighborhoods after a rigorous application process.

According to State Coordinator Mary Helmer, Main Street Alabama will immediately provide intensive board development, goal-setting, work-planning, market study with implementable economic development strategies, targeted technical assistance, and quarterly training related to downtown development.

“When a community is ready for Main Street, as South Huntsville is, the time-tested Four Point Approach works,” Helmer said. “It brings jobs, dollars and people back to neighborhood commercial districts.”

Helmer said the interview panel was impressed by the presentation from the South Huntsville Business Association and civic leaders that demonstrated a love of their community, a vision for what they could be, and the drive to make it happen. She said South Huntsville demonstrated strong community partnerships, an impressive organizational structure with exceptional leadership, and ability to financially support a program, which made them stand out in the field of applicants.

Developed starting in the 1950s, the era of the atomic ranch house, mid-century modern architecture reigns supreme in this community and recalls its historic connection to the nearby Redstone Arsenal (and Marshall Space Flight Center) and the golden era of space exploration,” the Main Street Alabama announcement said. “As home to numerous scientists throughout its history, this community’s residents produced scientific advancements that were the envy of the world. Over the past decade, (Huntsville) has been Alabama’s growth engine, and this local commercial district has become the preferred daytime destination for 40,000 employees at the … arsenal.

“Local residents and business owners have done their research and discovered a formula to develop connectivity between its natural resources and business assets, with greenways, river access and a natural preserve. They are ready to apply our UrbanMain Street approach, and we welcome this group of innovators, otherwise known as the South Huntsville Business Association, to our program. We know you will take your community to new heights!”

Each designated community reports its success by tracking reinvestment statistics. Main Street Alabama’s Designated communities have reported 488 net new businesses; 1,932 net new job; $282,679,772 in private investment; $74,257,229 in public improvements; and 61,201 volunteer hours in their districts collectively since June 2014.

For towns interested in becoming a designated Main Street Alabama community, application workshops will be held in January. Until then, communities interested in downtown and neighborhood commercial district revitalization can participate in Main Street Alabama’s Network.

Visit mainstreetalabama.org for information.

Madison sets groundbreaking for development, baseball stadium

MADISON — The first pitch won’t be thrown for another two years, but progress continues to round the bases for Madison’s multi-use development, including a baseball stadium for the city’s new minor league team.

City officials have set a groundbreaking for June 9 at the site of Town Madison, adjacent to I-565 and Zierdt Road. The event, which will feature ballpark fare such as popcorn and hot dogs, starts at 5 p.m. and the public is welcome.

“Breaking ground on this project is momentous, and we appreciate the work that has led us to this point,” said Madison Mayor Paul Finley. “Celebrating with our community while enjoying free ballpark food like hot dogs, popcorn and cotton candy is a fantastic way to rally together to start the process.”

A $46 million stadium, which will be the home of the minor league team, is the keystone of the development and is scheduled to be completed late next year.

BallCorps LLC, the owner of the Southern League’s Mobile BayBears, is moving the team to Madison and it will begin play in the 2020 season.

“Minor league baseball belongs back in North Alabama and we are thrilled to be a part of its return to the region,” said BallCorps Managing Partner and CEO Ralph Nelson. “We are excited to reveal more details about the team, its total integration into the community and to celebrate the start of construction.”

There will be a contest to name the team and commemorative baseballs will be given out to those who attend the groundbreaking celebration.