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Turner Construction Completes Work on Torch Technologies Integration and Prototyping Center

Turner Construction has completed work on Torch Technologies’ Technology Integration and Prototyping Center.

The $10 million facility at 4050 Chris Drive in Huntsville is part of Torch Technologies’ growing campus in South Huntsville and consists of a 35,000-square-foot, two-story office space with an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility. It incorporates offices, labs and open vertical spaces where large pieces of equipment can be installed and tested.

Torch Technologies continues to invest in its South Huntsville campus, supporting the City of Huntsville’s efforts to redevelop South Huntsville, a once vibrant area of town that is seeing an increase in development.

The new Technology Integration and Prototyping Center is located across the street from the Freedom Center, a project Turner completed in 2017 that included the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot, four-story building at 4090 South Memorial Parkway to create Torch Technologies’ current headquarters.

“Our previous experience building defense and aerospace facilities in Huntsville and elsewhere made us ideally suited for this project,” said project executive Lee Holland of Turner’s Huntsville office. “We’re very pleased to continue our partnership with Freedom Real Estate & Capital and Torch Technologies and to help in the continued revival of South Huntsville.”

Collaborating with Turner on the project were Matheny Goldmon Architects AIA; 4Site (civil engineering and landscape architecture); SSOE (mechanical and electrical engineers); and PEC Structural Engineering.

“Having worked with Turner in the past on the construction of the Freedom Center, we knew the outstanding quality of work that the company is capable of delivering,” said Bill Roark of Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate. “Our Technology Integration and Prototyping Center will enable Torch to take on more complex projects than before, including developing instruments to advance warhead testing.”

Hays Farm Development: ‘It’s Time; the Community Needs It’

Six to 10 years, that’s how long the Hays family expects the 850-acre, multifaceted development of Hays Farm to take.

Jim Hays, John Hays and Jeff Enfinger, the owners of the property, were on hand Thursday night to highlight the details of the project to a packed house in the Martha deFord Hays Auditorium at Grissom High School.

“For 49 years we’ve been developing communities for people in North Alabama, this is the first time we’ve ever put our name on one,” John Hays said.

John Hays talks about the importance
of the Hays Farm Development.

The development will eventually consist of about 1,000 residential units, three parks and see of new commercial spaces along with the redevelopment of Haysland Square, according to Enfinger.

The first part of the commercial aspect of the development is to raze Haysland Square and develop 175,000 to 200,000 square feet of new commercial space.

“It’s under contract now with a Florida developer who has developed here and we hope to have an announcement this Fall where that center would be redone next year and it would be upscale, walkable and pretty,” Enfinger said.

Enfinger added that they were working with Staples, the only retail store left in the current development.

“We’re providing space for Staples,” Enfinger said. “We have to cut a deal and they have to agree to it, but we’re going to make every effort to keep Staples.”

Jeff Enfinger gives an overview of the master plan for the Hays Farm development

It is expected to take five years before developers get back to the center housing Home Depot and a development north of Mike’s Merchandise, according to Enfinger.

“We’ve got three opportunities to develop and redevelop the high-volume, high-traffic commercial areas,” he said.

The first 500 units of residential development will consist of single-family detached units such as estate homes, patio homes and traditional housing sizes, which will span the $300,000 to $700,000 price points, according to Enfinger. Some of those are being developed now.

The next 500 units will consist of condominiums, townhouses, some lofts over the new retail establishments and possibly some age-restricted housing, according to Enfinger.

“The 1,000 units we’re going to build doesn’t do much for the commercial activity except create sort of a foundation,” Enfinger said. “The commercial activity is part of all of south Huntsville.

“So, if south Huntsville doesn’t become part of the commercial activity then it won’t be as successful.”

The development will have three parks: a 500-acre natural park, similar to the Hays Nature Preserve; a new ballpark with soccer and baseball/softball fields; and a city park, like Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville.

“We have a park system that I believe will be unrivaled by any park system that I know of in my lifetime,” Enfinger said.

There are also plans to have an entertainment district set up in the new development, possibly around the city park, but Enfinger said most of the specifics were still yet to be determined.

“It was really a difficult decision for the family to decide to let the farm go,” Jim Hays said.

“…But, it’s time. The community needs it; so it was time.”

Jim Hays talks about the history behind the land
that will be used as greenspaces in the Hays Farm Development.

Hays Farm Presentation Set for Thursday

The South Huntsville Business Association will host a community presentation of the Hays Farm revitalization project Thursday in the Grissom High School auditorium. It will start at 6 p.m.  

Jim and John Hays, along with Jeff Enfinger of The Enfinger Cos., are developing the 850-acre generational Hays Farm into a multi-use project with 110 acres of commercial development including retail stores and restaurants; 200 acres of residential area with about 1,000 single-family and multifamily homes; and a 12-acre city park with a potential entertainment component, sports fields and a dog park.

The remaining 540 acres will remain protected land with 6½ miles of walking trails and a nature preserve.

The economic boost to Huntsville is projected to be $450 million.

Representatives from the city, the Hayses, Enfinger Cos., and SHBA will be available for questions.

Hays Farm Multi-use Development Planned for South Huntsville

The answer to the long-asked question “What is going to happen with Haysland Square?” is finally provided.

Hays Farm, an 850-acre development, will soon be raised in South Huntsville after the 55-year-old shopping center is razed.

John Hays and Jeff Enfinger check out the plans for Hays Farm (Photo by Steve Babin)

Jim Hays, John Hays and Jeff Enfinger announced plans for the project which will include an entertainment district, nature preserve, homes, retail, restaurants, a dog park, sports fields and nearly 6 1/2 miles of walking trails.

“This land has meant so much to our family, generation after generation,” Enfinger said. “It has been a place where we’ve worked, played and grown as a family.”

The family has created communities around the county for decades and Enfinger said this is the “best and last” of the large communities they are planning.

“Our best and last large, master-planned community, … Hays Farm and its hundreds of acres of green space will now belong to our friends and neighbors in South Huntsville,” he told the Huntsville Business Journal during a tour of the project.

The project, which is currently under construction, will have about 110 acres of commercial development and 200 acres of residential, leaving about 540 acres for protected land. The development is estimated to provide a $450 million boost to the area.

“The Hays Farm project has the potential to transform the face of South Huntsville and bring vitality and excitement to South Parkway,” said Huntsville City Councilwoman Jennie Robinson, whose district includes the development.  “It will add hundreds of acres of green space to the city as well as miles of trails and recreational amenities while preserving the natural beauty of the area. 

“We applaud the Hays family for their vision and hope it will encourage others to reinvest in South Huntsville and improve the quality of life for the city as a whole.” 

A centerpiece will be the 12-acre “city park” which will have a Town Center on Haysland Road featuring entertainment, restaurants and small shops. Enfinger said the park is similar in size to Big Spring Park in downtown Huntsville.

“It will be a Providence-type (development) between Hamilton Square and Grissom,” Enfinger said, referencing the west Huntsville development. “The park has a village green like Providence.”

Hays Farm will have three components, Enfinger said. There will be the community park, nature preserve and ballfields – a 20-acre recreation baseball/soccer complex operated by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

More than 1 million yards of dirt has been moved for the Hays Farm project. (Photo by Steve Babin)

Some 1,000 housing units will include single-family detached, townhouses and rental units. More than 500 single-family homes will range from $300,000 to $700,000. There are plans for 150 townhouse units and 350 multifamily rentals. Each neighborhood within Hays Farm will offer access to trails and an open space network that connects the community to all of Huntsville.

Haysland Road will also extend from South Memorial Parkway through the development to Hobbs Road, a couple hundred yards east of Redstone Arsenal’s Gate 3.

“The Haysland Road extension should be finished by September,” Enfinger said. “It goes through the series of lakes – wonderful scenery.”

Madison County Commissioner Phil Riddick, whose district includes south Huntsville, said Hays Farm is an exciting change and addition to the area.

“South Huntsville has not seen new development on this scale in decades.  Not only is it substantial in size with greenways, new retail, restaurants and hundreds of new residences, but it will change the face of the community,” he said. “This will be something new and exciting, and will add a lifestyle flavor that we have not seen before in South Huntsville.  It will foster further new development and will create a new demand for living in our area. 

“We are so thrilled that the Hays Family has embarked on this development and are looking forward to it being completed.”

The developers and South Huntsville Business Association have scheduled a community meeting for 6 p.m. May 30 in the Grissom High School Auditorium.

South Huntsville Library: The Future of Libraries at the Sandra Moon Campus

With more than 20 years of continuous growth and service to South Huntsville, the Bailey Cove Library is bursting at the seams.

Research has shown that over the past year, more than 2,000 library cards were issued; more than 10,000 programs attended; and nearly 7,000 people used the public computers – JUST at Bailey Cove branch alone.

Housed in the converted space of an old hardware store, the library opened its doors in 1997. At a mere 10,000 square feet, the library has long since outgrown its space.

The issue of space resulted in plans being drafted for a 40,000 square-foot, high-tech community library and event space. The new library will be at Huntsville’s new Sandra Moon Community Complex on the old Grissom High School campus. When finished, it will be four times larger than the Bailey Cove Branch Library.

At a recent South Huntsville Business Association meeting, Huntsville-Madison County Public Library Capital Campaign Director Caroline Kennedy presented plans for the new library, unveiling the Fuqua and Partners masterful conceptualization.

“It will be a gigantic, state-of-the-art library, with lots of light and glass,” Kennedy said. “This is the future of libraries, what new libraries are going to be. It will be Class-A facility; there will be after-hours special events with separate access, event rental space, areas for classes, private study rooms, and meeting space.

“The library will continue to offer free meeting space for nonprofit groups. There will be a full-service catering kitchen, areas for food trucks, and outdoor events. It will be a real boost for the redevelopment of South Huntsville.”

As part of the state-of-the-art technology, there will be a dedicated “Maker’s Space” which will have a 3D printer, large format printer for sign and banner making, and sewing machines. Planned design features include plenty of natural light, an open/bookstore-style floor plan, art gallery, Friends of Library bookstore, a coffee shop with inside entry and an outside walk-up and outdoor, patio seating, indoor fireplace, and a children’s garden.

“The new library will be more user friendly and accessible to patrons,” said Kennedy. “Books will still be organized by Dewey system, but also by ‘neighborhood,’ sort of like what you would find at (bookstores).”

Construction is scheduled to take about 18 to 24 months with an opening date in early 2021. For more information, visit huntsvillelibraryfoundation.org/south

A Brand New Time in South Huntsville or, Rather, a New Brand

In the next couple of months, south Huntsville will enter a new era. In fact, a “brand’ new era.

South Huntsville business owners, community members and government officials are coming together to create a vibrant and thriving district.

Extending from, essentially, Martin Road south to the Tennessee River, South Huntsville Main Street will be a corridor reflecting a diverse lifestyle of work and play.

Just imagine, driving south on the parkway through the Martin Road “tunnel.” On the “ceiling” and the sides are row upon row of colored lights.

Talk about a grand entrance!

And as you exit the “tunnel,” laid out in front of you are banners on the light poles welcoming visitors.

There are local businesses along the road, each touting their wares and inviting customers inside.

The South Huntsville Business Association, with Executive Director Bekah Schmidt and President Jerry Cargile, has been the impetus to improving this part of the city.

A major step was being accepted into Main Street Alabama, a nonprofit organization that uses a national model with a 40-year track record of revitalizing downtowns and neighborhoods.

The process concentrates in four areas: organization, design, promotion and economic vitality. Each one is guided by Main Street’s transformation strategy to remain focused on a specific market-based outcome.

With a solid and active SHBA, the organization stage is answered. The design aspect concerns itself with aesthetics and function, such as the tunnel lights, improved landscaping and redesigned parking areas.

Promotion will incorporate some of the design aspects as well as sharing information and marketing the district. Economic vitality is key in that there must be room and desire for businesses to grow and prosper.

To help in the process, SHBA has launched a South Huntsville Community Survey. It is anonymous and the feedback will help provide direction for businesses to grow in South Huntsville. The findings will be shared with the public at a community meeting June 6. You can find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/sohunt. For information, visit http://shba.biz/

Also at the meeting, the Main Street Alabama officials will revisit south Huntsville to launch a branding presentation, which includes a logo for the district and several variations of it; a marketing strategy; and other information to help south Huntsville soar to new heights.

(Bud McLaughlin is editor of the Huntsville Business Journal. He can be heard every Wednesday at 6:30 a.m. with Fred Holland on WTKI-FM 105.3 and 1450 AM.)

Main Street Alabama Team to Visit South Huntsville, seeks public input

 

If you see “5 or 6 people bouncing around” south Huntsville over the next few days, there’s no need to call 911.

Most likely it’s the resource team from Main Street Alabama doing research as part of its task of making recommendations for the UrbanMain Street South Huntsville program.

Main Street Alabama began in 2009 to serve as state coordinator of the national Main Street program. It follows a 30-year-old model for community revitalization that has seen great success nationwide.

A nonprofit organization, Main Street Alabama stresses public-private partnerships, broad community engagement, and strategies that create jobs, spark new investment, attract visitors, and spur growth. Main Street builds on the authentic history, culture, and attributes of specific places, to bring sustainable change.

The resource team will collect information through meetings, interviews, on-the-street engagement, tours and the like. They will then present their recommendations at a meeting Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the Grissom High School auditorium.

“It’s a great opportunity to see change and be involved in the change,” said Mary Helmer, the Main Street Alabama state coordinator.

On Tuesday, the team will take a driving and walking tour of the South Huntsville Main Street district – the South Memorial Parkway corridor from Golf Road to Ditto Landing. There will also be meetings with city officials, community and economic development officials, Realtors, property owners, civic groups and the like. There will be a public vision session 5-8 p.m. in the Grissom High School cafeteria.

The team will meet with business owners, religious leaders and students on Wednesday afternoon. Then, from 4-6 p.m., the team will hold “on-the-street” interviews with the community at Rosie’s Plaza.

“We’ll be grabbing people and asking questions,” Helmer said.

City Council President Jennie Robinson said this is an exciting time for south Huntsville.

“This kicks off three important days,” she said. “This is going to be a community process … this is a community vision.”

She said the area’s diversity represents challenges for the community.

“We need services for the graying community, certain things for the millennials and for the (Redstone) Arsenal, like car rentals, hotels, restaurants,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how Main Street gathers the information.”

Jerry Cargile, president of the South Huntsville Business Association, said the program is a boost for the community.

“With Main Street, we see an opportunity to face the challenges.”

What it all comes down to, however, is community participation and input, Helmer said.

“It’s time for the community to tell us,” she said. “This is South Huntsville’s UrbanMain Program.

“South Huntsville, it’s up to you.”

‘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.”

 

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.