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Huntsville, Ala., Will Apply for Funds to Improve Downtown Safety

Wed May 15, 2024 - Southeast Edition

A rendering of the proposed Stadium Commons development along Memorial Parkway. The project will include a hotel, parking garage, restaurant and retail space and loft-style, multifamily housing.
Rendering courtesy of the City of Huntsville
A rendering of the proposed Stadium Commons development along Memorial Parkway. The project will include a hotel, parking garage, restaurant and retail space and loft-style, multifamily housing.

The Huntsville, Ala., City Council voted to apply for two U.S. Department of Transportation grants totaling more than $21 million that will focus on safety and traffic congestion on two busy roadways in the downtown area.

The grants would require a 30 percent match from the city, totaling more than $9 million, reported May 13.

One would help pay for construction improvements on a 3.35-mi. stretch of Holmes Avenue while the other would help fund a study for improvements on 8.85 mi. of Governors Drive that includes the Medical District.

Both projects in Alabama's largest city are designed to work toward Huntsville's goal of zero roadway fatalities or serious injuries by 2055.

"These grants emphasize safety and improving traffic flow on two roads that see high volumes of automobile and pedestrian traffic while passing through several residential areas," explained Dennis Madsen, the city's manager of Long-Range and Urban Planning.

"With plans to enhance Holmes Avenue from downtown to Cummings Research Park as well as working closely with Huntsville Hospital on making Governors Drive as safe as possible, we believe the city is an excellent candidate to receive these grants."

According to Madsen and other city planners, the construction on the Holmes Avenue Medical Access Corridor project would transform the downtown link to the University of Alabama at Huntsville with new sidewalks, bike lanes and streetlamps that would encourage all modes of transportation along the corridor through better functionality and greater safety. It also would upgrade access to the Medical District for residents living in neighborhoods along Holmes Avenue.

Additionally, the Governors Drive Corridor Study & Medical District Safety Action Plan will present recommendations to better facilitate the increasing traffic flow as well as further accommodate pedestrians in the Medical District. The study area starts at 14th St. SW on the western end and continue east to Caldwell Lane.

Huntsville officials are seeking $640,000 in the federal grant with a 20 percent city match of $160,000 for the plan.

The action comes at a time when the city is embarking on a $65 million Skybridge-Riverwalk project that would open more access to the downtown area for pedestrian traffic with a suspension bridge over Memorial Parkway, noted.

One of the landing spots for the bridge would be the site of the $400 million Mill Creek Choice Neighborhood Initiative project at Governors Drive and Seminole, which seeks to revitalize a distressed neighborhood near the downtown's core.

Among the goals for the project is better access to employment and health care opportunities for residents, including Huntsville Housing Authority clients.

The city is seeking up to $50 million in U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding, with a decision expected later this fall.

Crews Begin Work On New $145M Development in Huntsville

Construction has started on a $145 million mixed-use development off Memorial Parkway near Joe Davis Stadium in Huntsville that will feature retail stores, a parking deck, office space, and, eventually, a hotel and apartments, reported May 10.

Known as Stadium Commons, Huntsville's large new development is planned for the site of a former movie theater between the stadium and Memorial Parkway.

Permits were issued to the developer, Parkway Vesta Inc., for four $5.5 million buildings at 3202, 3204, 3206 and 3208 Memorial Parkway in south Huntsville.

Birmingham-based Brasfield & Gorrie is listed as the contractor for the three phases of work:

  • Beyond a parking facility, the other first phase construction includes at least 50,000 sq. ft. in retail development and no less than 12,000 sq. ft. of Class A office space.
  • The second phase of Stadium Commons includes building at least 16,000 sq. ft. for retail and 12,000 sq. ft. for office space and/or a hotel.
  • Phase III will have separate retail and office spaces, each encompassing 12,000 sq. ft., and an apartment complex with at least 200 units.

The permits for the work were part of the 370 permits issued in the Huntsville area since April 18 with a total value of $126 million.

The city of Huntsville itself issued 223 permits totaling $86.1 million, followed by 113 permits totaling $25.5 million from Madison County, the city of Madison's 14 permits, valued at $7.4 million, and Decatur's 20 permits totaling $7 million.

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