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.

 

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.

The Cuban Cafe coming to Madison’s Promenade Point

Co-owners Jessi and Andy Ysalgue look forward to bringing Cuban cuisine to Madison. (Photo by Katie Shelton, Crunkleton Associates)

A  local eatery will soon bring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Cuba to the Madison/Huntsville area.

The Cuban Café is slated to open in August at Madison’s Promenade Point shopping center, near the Walmart and Target on U.S. 72.

Owned by the wife and husband team of Jesenia (Jessi) and Andy Ysalgue, the Cuban Café will be a spot where guests can experience authentic Cuban culture and cuisine.

There will be a decorated patio where patrons can smoke cigars and sip a craft cocktail while listening to the smooth sounds of drums, guitars, bongos, and trumpets playing in the background. Latin music will play an important role in the overall atmosphere.

“We want The Cuban Café to be more than a place you drop by for a good meal, although it will be that,”said Andy. “Our patio will be one of the most comfortable spots in the café. We want people to be able to close their eyes and feel like they are in Cuba or Miami.

“We keep using the word ‘authentic’, but that’s really what we are going for. Sharing these parts of the Cuban culture is something that’s special to us.”

The couple’s roots are in Miami but they have lived in Madison for the past 10 years.

“Our roots are in Miami, but we have made Madison our home,” Jessi said. “This is a way for us to invite our friends to experience something they may not have had the chance to experience.

“Whether you’re coming to grab a bite, hang out at the bar or relax on our patio, we want you to leave feeling refreshed, happy and, of course, full of comforting Cuban cooking.”

And Jessi is inviting others to discover the delight of Cuban cuisine.

“We will, of course, have a traditional Cuban sandwich made with roasted pork, sweet ham, pickles, and swiss,” she said. “It’s one of our favorites and we are thrilled to serve it alongside other types of sandwiches and many other menu items including ropa vieja, picadillo, and much more.”

The duo also mentioned the growth of the area and said they hope the new cafe will be a player in the continuing progress of the city.

“We wanted to create a place that brings the community together to enjoy great food and fun,” said Jessi. “Madison and Huntsville have some amazing restaurants—we eat at them frequently.

“We are honored to soon be a part of such a diverse, quality group of restaurateurs.”

‘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.”

 

Madison ballpark: They haven’t built it, but hundreds did come

MADISON – If the line of cars on Zierdt Road and the hundreds of people who showed up for a groundbreaking ceremony were any indication, baseball has definitely returned to North Alabama.

Close to 1,000 future fans of the yet-t0-be-named minor league baseball team turned out Saturday as BallCorps Inc. and the city of Madison broke ground for a $46 million baseball/multi-use facility. Fans received commemorative baseballs as well as free hot dogs and soft drinks.

The official groundbreaking ceremony for the new Madison baseball facility was held Saturday. Photo by Marianne Higgins

The groundbreaking event took place at the site of the facility  – a “barren field,” as Madison Mayor Paul Finley put it – along Interstate 565 and Zierdt Road.

It is expected to be completed in the fall of 2019 and the complex will include a Hotel Margaritaville. Plans are for the facility to hold other events, outside the 70 regular season baseball games.

“There will be movies in the park, car shows, Scouting events; companies can hold events at the facility,” Finley said. “This venue will make a difference in the quality of life” in Madison.

Ralph Nelson, the managing partner and CEO of BallCorps – the team’s owner, was emotional as he spoke.

“I have just two words: thank you,” he said. “Thank you for inviting us into your community and thank you for welcoming us into your community.”

Then, Nelson, who has been involved in professional baseball for a quarter of a century, paused.

“This is the best day in my baseball career,” he said. “In 675 days (June 19, 2020), we’re going to be playing ball in Madison.”

Artist’s rendering shows Madison’s new baseball stadium with a swimming pool behind the centerfield scoreboard.

SHBA begins search for executive director

The South Huntsville Business Association (SHBA) announced today an executive search for the association’s first executive director. Applications will be accepted through June 20.

The SHBA was recently selected as one of three new Main Street designated communities in Alabama.

According to the organization, the new director will help promote economic development among South Huntsville businesses and spearhead activities related to the new Main Street Alabama designation. SHBA expects to have the right candidate in place by Aug. 6, in time for the official Main Street Alabama kickoff scheduled for the second week in August.

South Huntsville’s selection is unique because it is one of the first communities chose by the statewide delegation not located in a downtown urban district. The South Huntsville designation is essentially a commercial urban corridor that begins just north of Martin Road and extends south along Memorial Parkway to Ditto Landing and the Tennessee River.

The new SHBA executive director must have proven leadership skills, executive management and strategic economic planning experience, and possess a passion for impacting growth while viewing challenges through a creative lens, SHBA said.

Contact SHBA for more information at info@SHBA.biz.

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.

Huntsville’s T-H Marine Supplies acquires Blue Water LED

T-H Marine Supplies has acquired Blue Water LED, a producer of LED light kits and components for recreation vehicles.

Jeff Huntley, president of Huntsville-based T-H Marine, made the announcement of the deal Monday.

“We are so excited to announce the acquisition of the Blue Water assets,” Huntley said. “We have long admired the quality of their products and the market share leader status they enjoyed in the aftermarket LED Light Kit market.

“The team at Blue Water have built a great company of super quality products, with a lifetime warranty,
and we are looking forward of taking their ‘vision’ to the next level.”

Blue Water designs, assembles, and sells a broad and unique line of LED light kits and lighting components for boats, kayaks, autos/trucks, trailers, ATVs/UTVs, golf carts, RVs, off-road vehicles, public safety vehicles, and
utility trucks.

Blue Water has also long been known as the pioneer and market leader in LED light kits for bass boats and
professional bass anglers.

“It’s been an awesome experience to grow our company and to meet so many of our customers and dealers,” Jeff Hillard, one of the original founders and president of Blue Water LED said. “Our faith-based company has operated on the principles of providing superior quality products, excellent customer service, and an unprecedented lifetime warranty.

“We have loved serving our loyal customers over the years and we are excited that even more customers will now have access to Blue Water products through an industry leader, T-H Marine. We know T-H Marine cares about quality, stands behind its products, and really cares for its customers, so it’s a great fit. We are proud to know they will nurture the line of Blue Water products into the future.”

T-H Marine is known as an industry leader in supplying LED lights to the boat manufacturers, Huntley said. “But Blue Water was the visionary in creating easy to buy, easy to understand, and easy to install LED light kits.”

“It is astonishing to me that Blue Water has been doing LED kits since 2005 – yes 13 years! – so they have an established and diverse dealer network in place across the U.S., and a customer base like no one else in the boating market. We look forward to continuing and growing all of those dealer relationships and establishing even more thru our wide distribution network, so that more dealers and do-it-yourself customers can really light up their boats.”

Huntley said that the Blue Water assets are being moved to T-H Marine headquarters in Huntsville, where future
assembly and shipping of the product will occur. There will be no disruption to Blue Water customers or suppliers, just more access to the products through more locations than ever. Blue Water LED products will be up and running as a T-H Marine brand in a matter of days.
“Quality brands and products like Blue Water are what we seek to add to our strong portfolio of brands,” Huntley said. “This is our fifth acquisition in the past five years along with many product license acquisitions. We love being known as the go-to company for launching and acquiring innovative brands and products . We have proven our ability to take great ideas, from inside our plant, from our boat building customers, from inventors, and from smaller
companies, and really blowing them up in the market. We have experienced compound annual growth of over 20% per year over the past 8 years and we are not planning to slow down.

“The acquisition of the Blue Water assets puts us into a clear market leadership position in aftermarket LED light kits that we looking forward to growing even more. This brand also gives us immediate access to several other markets outside of boats.”

T-H Marine is celebrating its 43 rd Anniversary of business and has grown to be one of the largest manufacturers of boating and fishing accessories in the U.S.

To learn more about T-H Marine, www.thmarine.com; to learn more about the Blue Water LED Enterprises products, please visit www.bluewaterled.com.