GSA Unveils Design for New Federal Courthouse in Huntsville

The U.S. General Services Administration today unveiled design renderings for the new federal courthouse in Huntsville, in partnership with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama.

The new federal courthouse will be on a five-acre site at the intersection of Lowe Avenue and Gallatin Street.

Soon to be a prominent feature in Huntsville’s historic downtown, the three-story courthouse with a walkout basement will include five courtrooms and six judges’ chambers, as well as workspace for the U.S. Marshals Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S Probation and Pretrial Services.

According to a release from the GSA, the design is neoclassical in style, with a large pedimented entry portico flanked by gently arcing symmetrical wings.

“The design incorporates modern security, sustainability and technological features necessary for a 21st-century federal courthouse, while integrating classical organizational, proportional and design elements. In addition, the design features a large formal public lawn with symmetrical plantings that will help both to create a sense of space and to focus the eye toward nearby panoramic views,” the release said.

“GSA is excited to give the people of Huntsville a glimpse into what their future downtown will look like through this courthouse design,” said Kevin Kerns, regional commissioner for GSA’s Public Buildings Service Southeast Sunbelt Region. “GSA strives to provide a state-of-the-art facility that meets the long-term workspace and security needs of our partners in the Northern District of Alabama.”

With an authorized budget of nearly $86 million, construction of the 123,000 square-foot courthouse is anticipated to begin in early 2022 and will take approximately 30 months to complete.

The five-acre property is at the intersection of Lowe Avenue and Gallatin Street. Steve White of Fentress Architects in Washington, D.C., is the project’s lead designer, and Lee Sims of Studio Scarab Architecture Interiors Planning in Montgomery serves as the courthouse designer. Payne Design Group Architects of Montgomery is providing bridging architectural services.

BeeZr – An ‘Excellent’ Addition to the Downtown Vibe

A warm atmosphere awaits the customers to BeeZr. (Photo/Steve Babin)

BeeZr Gastropub + Social Exchange is the latest establishment settling on Northside Square in downtown Huntsville that gives the block a European vibe.

BeeZr is a play off “beezer,’ which is British slang for “excellent.’’ BeeZr, in the building that formerly housed Club Rush and Jazz Factory, counts as its neighbors English pub The Poppy and German-influenced eatery Domaine South.

The gastropub is a three-pronged setup featuring Chandler’s Ford Brewing, Champagne Taco Kitchen and Northside Coffee Roasters. BeeZr will also serve items from vegan food truck Hippea Camper.

Ron Jewell, founder and business development director of BeeZr, said he and his team “found the perfect location in the booming downtown arts and entertainment district in Huntsville. A historic multi-story building situated centrally on the courthouse square.’’

Eye-catching canvas psychedelic paintings adorn the windows. (Photo/Steve Babin)

The building’s windows are eye-catching with canvas psychedelic paintings viewable from Clinton Avenue between Northside Square and the courthouse.

“Clever architects, engineers, a visionary brewery designer, and construction experts produced a minimal-footprint, tall-stacked, custom-designed brewery configuration that will support up to 25 different recipes fermenting simultaneously,’’ said Jewell, who has a background in aerospace and engineering software and hardware.

Jewell, who worked at The Hungry Hunter while attending college at Auburn, and four others founded BeeZr: Doug Tibbs (chief zymurgy officer), Adam Loveless (design and dynamics director), Daniel Sikorski (Champagne Taco Kitchen czar) and Clint Brown (assistant brewmaster and libations director).

Associates include Keenan Tipton (Northside Coffee) and Garrett Hardee (Hippea Camper).

Chandler’s Ford Brewing is named for English neighborhood Hampshire, where Jewell lived in his early teens.

As for the brewery, Jewell describes the focus as on “fresh, delicious beer recipes delivering a bewildering variety of fermented beverages and will be complemented with a selection of champagnes, wines, and specialty mixed drinks.’’

Champagne Taco Kitchen will feature three standard taco offerings: a San Diego- and Mexico City-inspired Carnitas Taco, a cilantro-lemon aioli Grilled Halibut Fish Taco, and the Champagne Taco – a white, lump-crab with lime-saffron sauce taco.

In addition to the trio of taco offerings, rotating menu items will include a Sous Vide beef brisket steak sandwich, chorizo & cilantro quesadillas, a Chicago-inspired tomato-sausage pizza, New Orleans seafood gumbo and a six-hour Sous Vide rare New York Strip steak dinner.

Jewell describes BeeZr as singularly unique amidst the city’s craft beer establishments.

“We dreamed of a uniquely-motivated small restaurant where tapas-sized portions of decidedly different interpretations of our favorite foods are prepared flawlessly and precisely every time: tacos, pizzas, steak sandwiches, crab cakes, gumbo, charbroiled beefsteak, rack of lamb, charcuterie,” he said.

“We dreamed of a uniquely configured small-batch brewery capable of creating a large variety of ales and lagers, and served direct to tap without the degradation that accompanies every type of retail packaging. IPAs, barrel-aged stouts, kettle sours, mixed fermentation experimentals, and an extensive lagering program.

“We dreamed of a cool, comfortable, cavernous venue with a mixture of old and new, metal and wood, art & architecture, and music and food and beer. Austere and sublime and perfectly situated in the Huntsville downtown area.

“Then, the dream came true.’’

BeeZr is open daily from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. with kitchens hours from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. For more information, visit





Turner Construction Reaches Milestone on Monroe Street Parking Garage

 Turner Construction Company has begun precast erection on the Monroe Street parking garage expansion and renovation in downtown Huntsville, the company announced Monday. The milestone signifies that vertical construction has begun.
The $14.4 million Monroe Street Parking Garage project includes the demolition of the two-story west section of the parking garage that fronts Monroe Street and the construction of a five-story parking garage with an additional entry from Clinton Avenue, containing approximately 725 parking spaces.

Construction is progressing on the Monroe Street parking garage. (Photo/Marty Sellers)

Construction began in July, with completion expected in August 2021. The City of Huntsville engaged Turner, who is collaborating on the project with Fuqua & Partners Architects and engineers SSOE GroupLBYD Engineers and Schoel Engineering.

This project is essential to the redevelopment of the Big Spring Park area, which continues to see new hotels. These include the new Autograph Collection by Marriott hotel, which will be connected to the new parking deck in the southwest corner. The Autograph joins several other hotel projects within walking distance of the nearby Von Braun Center multipurpose complex, which are being built to accommodate larger conferences and events.
“The expansion and renovation of the Monroe Street parking garage is a key project within the ongoing redevelopment of downtown Huntsville. Once completed, this piece of infrastructure will make it possible for residents and visitors to conveniently enjoy one of the many events at the Von Braun Center, Big Spring Park, or at one of the other attractions in downtown Huntsville,” Ricky Wilkinson, director of general services for the City of Huntsville, said in the statement. “The city is very appreciative of the partnership with Turner Construction Company and the rest of the project team for this project. We look forward to seeing the garage go vertical and begin to take shape.”
The garage will feature 3D-printed composite rain screen panels on the Monroe Street and Clinton Avenue entries, which will provide a modern skin for the garage, visually blending its new and old sections together with the Von Braun Center and Mars Music Hall.
“This parking deck represents a commitment to continuing Huntsville’s growth by bolstering its downtown attractions,” said Brandon Tucker, a project executive for Turner. “With start of the precast structure, the look of Big Spring Park will begin to change very quickly in the coming weeks. Turner is proud to be a part of this project with the city of Huntsville and its design partners.”
As part of the project, a parking-control system will be installed for the new entries on Monroe Street and Clinton Avenue, while existing parking control equipment at both Church Street entries will be replaced. This will bring state-of-the-art remote payment options and increased 24/7 accessibility to the deck, which previously required operation by a city employee. In addition, the deck’s new parking systems will incorporate parking integration for the forthcoming hotels, allowing parking densities to increase without taking away from the beauty of downtown Huntsville and Big Spring Park. Security cameras will also be installed at multiple locations in the new construction and the existing deck, and conduits will be created to accommodate License Plate Recognition cameras.
The existing parking deck was built in the late 1970s, and additional floors were added to the east half of the deck in 2005, which will remain standing.

Church Street Wine Shoppe Moving to the Historic Humphreys–Rogers House

Church Street Wine Shoppe made history by starting the first sitdown wine club in Alabama.

But, now with 600 members, the shop is overflowing at its original location on Church Street downtown.

Owners Stephanie Kennedy-Mell and her husband Matthew Mell are moving the shop, the wine club and their entire Church Street Family restaurant headquarters into the historic Humphreys-Rogers House on the corner of Gates Avenue and Fountain Circle. It will be known as Church Street on Gates.

Chef Kannon Swaris, executive chef for the Church Street family of restaurants.

Built in 1848, the Humphreys-Rogers House has been moved and saved from demolition in recent years and is the only historic house in downtown Huntsville’s business zone.

Listed on the Historic Register, the two-story, 4,000 square-foot mansion is a welcomed expansion from the business’s small location on Church Street. The ground floor corridor, foyer, and formal living room will house the bottle shoppe, serving wine and craft beer. A private room will be dedicated to wine club members.

Upstairs will house the Church Street Family headquarters for all five restaurant venues: Pourhouse and Mazzara’s Italian restaurant, both at Stovehouse; Purveyor at the Avenue; and the new Catacomb Speakeasy opening before Labor Day in the basement of the Downtown Self Storage at 100 Jefferson Street.

“There will be plenty of parking with the city parking garage right across the street,” said Kennedy-Mell. “Pre-pandemic, our Church Street location could only seat 40 people, which was already problematic for our wine club, which meets once a month. We were holding 13 separate wine club meetings to accommodate our 600 members, and during the pandemic, we had adjusted that to 20 meetings of 20 people.

“We also had to close the bottle shoppe down to the public during the meetings, but we will no longer have to do that.”

The Church Street Wine Shoppe wine club is the only wine club in Alabama to offer five-course, sitdown wine tastings with chef-prepared food pairings and guest speakers, sometimes flown in from wine country around the world like California, France, and Argentina. They will also offer first estate wines.

While the Church Street location is only open for dinner, the new bar and bottle shoppe will be open for lunch and dinner, and will bring back popular customer events such as Wine Love Wednesday. They can also hold larger tasting events like the ones they hold twice a year at Purveyor.

Kennedy-Mell will hold a press conference at the landmark location in October, with tours of the new premises as a prelude to an expected December opening.

Huntsville Raising the Roof with Hotel Construction

Another hotel is ready to rise in downtown Huntsville.

The city council recently unanimously approved plans to build a Hyatt House on a vacant lot at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue, across from the federal courthouse building.

The city has designs on having more than 1,000 hotel rooms available downtown for conventions and other large events within walking distance of the VBC.

“We’re getting there,’’ said Shane Davis, city director for urban and economic. “We need to get to about 1,500 rooms. Conferences need available rooms. The Monday through Friday traffic is already reserving existing rooms.’’

Southaven Associates LLC of Birmingham will build the Hyatt, which will add 145 rooms to the city’s goal. NAI Chase Commercial is the development coordinator and Visionquest Capital is the capital and financing partner for the $35 million project.

“Hyatt is one of the most widely recognized brands in the world,” Charlie Grelier Jr., president of NAI Chase Commercial. “We are thrilled to be part of this exciting new downtown development. The hotel is expected to become a top choice for business and leisure travelers due to its ideal location in the heart of the Entertainment District.”

The nine-story hotel will be at the corner of Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue and will include a full-service restaurant, meeting areas and a rooftop bar.

The restaurant space will be at the lobby level in an open setting with access to a courtyard connecting the restaurant and hotel to the heart of the entertainment district with direct walkable access to additional retail, restaurants and pubs along with a newly constructed public parking deck,” said Mark Elrod Sr., NAI Chase vice president of retail.

Construction is set to begin Jan. 1 with completion date set for Dec. 31, 2021. Davis said construction could be shortened by five months if the weather cooperates.

The city continues to add to not only it’s hotel portfolio downtown but various other businesses such as restaurants. The square and city skyline hardly resemble what they looked like just a few years ago as building in the area continues.

The Hyatt will join other new hotels in downtown such as the AC Hotel that opened this year at the site that once housed the Huntsville Hilton.

Davis said city administrators aren’t fazed by talk from national economists warning a recession might be looming.

“On a national scale there is talk of a small recession,” he said. “(Mayor Tommy Battle) said it best when we recently went for a bond rating. The mayor said there might be a small recession, but we’re not going to participate.”

Davis’s comment was echoed by the financial backers.

“Huntsville is the perfect emerging southeastern market for our capital investment and growth,” said Michael Hanks, founder and managing partner of Vision Quest Capital. “We look forward to investing in its future.”

The city will also purchase land at the hotel site for some $600,000. It will be used to expand the Washington Park area to provide what Davis called a “gathering spot.”

The city will also pay for infrastructure and street improvements at the site that Davis said were budgeted prior to the introduction of the hotel project at an estimated cost of $750,000 to $1 million.

The city will also lease the Hyatt up to 205 parking spaces at the Clinton Avenue garage and a planned garage on Greene Street.