Downtown Construction Continues Despite Pandemic

Despite “shelter-at-home’’ orders followed by “safer-at-home’’ and, most recently, mandatory masking guidelines because of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction downtown appears to have proceeded as expected.

Downtown Huntsville Inc. CEO Chad Emerson said he’s unaware of any plans being altered as far as building in the middle of the city is concerned.

“I’m not aware of any projects that have been canceled because of the pandemic,’’ Emerson said.

He also said he’s not sure whether or not the pandemic has slowed any construction.

“That I don’t know because, well, there are some projects that aren’t moving as fast as others but that happens all the time,” Emerson said. “So I don’t know and I haven’t heard directly from any of the developers whether the pandemic is the reason or it could be something like financing or construction materials.’’

DHI has played a major role in revitalizing the downtown district.

Current construction projects underway are the new Huntsville Hospital Orthopedic and Spine Tower, Eclipse lofts at CityCentre, the Redstone Federal Credit Union building, the Curio Hotel, and the parking deck at Green Street and Holmes Avenue.

“Those are the ones that have gone vertical,’’ Emerson said. “There are other smaller projects — the new restaurants on the North Side Square and other things like that. So there are those on a larger scale. There’s a new dessert location going into The Avenue and there’s a new lounge going into 127 Holmes. So, you have a mix of smaller or larger projects.’’

The Avenue has added Cookie Dough Magic, an edible cookie dough parlor, next to Melt restaurant on Holmes Avenue.

The 127 Holmes site also houses Moe’s Original Bar B Que.

Cookie Dough Magic: This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Cookie Dough

Downtown Huntsville now has its very own cookie dough parlor.

On Jefferson Street, next door to Melt at The Avenue, Cookie Dough Magic is ready to serve up its unique fare.

Mmmmm, cookie dough in a cone!

“We’re very similar to an ice cream shop,” said Huntsville franchise owner Jon Heugel. “You can order our cookie dough in a cup, waffle cone, milkshake, or a push pop – which is a cookie dough pop with ice cream in the center.”

The Avondale-based business was just a dream back in 2018, when founders Chris and Melissa Bell went vacationing in New York City. After sampling flavors from the Big Apple’s most popular edible cookie dough bars, they were inspired and began developing plans to create their own cookie dough enterprise.

After months of experimentation, the Bells developed a sure-fire recipe to tickle the taste buds. Since that time, Cookie Dough Magic grew to be a hit in Avondale. So much so, the Bells decided to expand operations.

Heugel and his wife Sheldon were already big fans, frequently making the trek from Athens to Avondale to get a Cookie Dough Magic fix. They had been thinking about opening a business of their own, and after getting to know the Bells, the couple realized the potential for a cookie dough parlor in Huntsville.

So, they took the plunge and opened the first franchise location.

“Many of us have memories of stealing cookie dough from the mixer before our grandmother could bake it,” said Heugel.

But this is not the dough grandma used to bake cookies with or the store-bought variety, either.

Using fresh ingredients such as heat-treated flour, pasteurized egg whites and real butter, Cookie Dough Magic dough has a lighter, fluffier consistency which sets it apart from the typical raw cookie dough batter.

Cookie Dough Magic has 12 flavors, with a special flavor that’s featured each month. A few of the selections include “Euro Dough,” which is packed with Biscoff cookies, “Salty Sweet” which boasts an assortment of dark chocolate chips, Ghirardelli caramel and sea salt, and “Fancy’s Peanut Butter,” made with Reese’s Pieces.

Even with an awesome product, atmosphere still matters when it comes to enticing customers. The vibe at Cookie Dough Magic is clean and simple by day; by night, the lights dim and the music is lively and hip.

“Our shop even changes its lighting and atmosphere at night to make it a fun hangout for after-dinner crowds,” said Heugel. “We think Cookie Dough Magic will fill a void in the neighborhood and offer guests a fun spot where they can hang out and enjoy a decadent new treat.”

The shop hours for dine in and pickup are noon to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and  1 to 8 p.m. Sundays.