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BRIGHT IDEAS: Mayor announces new retail, housing plans for Huntsville



City of HuntsvilleOn Thursday, April 7th, 200 people came out to the Monaco Theater at Bridge Street to see Mayor Tommy Battle and the City of Huntsville unveil the results of the "Ideas Map," an online interactive map that asked residents what they wanted to see in their city in terms of retail, restaurants, and other ideas. In the 18 days that the map was online, 926 ideas were posted on the map, with 4,897 interactions and over 40,000 unique hits to the site.

The top retailer requested on the map was Trader Joe's, and the top restaurant was Cheesecake Factory. A full report of the most popular ideas can be found at huntsvilleal.gov/ideas.

Mayor Battle was joined by Economic Development Director Joe Vallely and real estate developer Scott McLain in unveiling the results and commenting on how the results will affect retail recruitment efforts as the city moves forward.

The Mayor also stated that "this is the beginning of a comprehensive plan" that, over the next two to three years, will map out Huntsville's future in economic development, land use, and transportation, among other things, and will lead to more innovative public interaction tools like the Ideas Map.

"The ideas are only as good as the reality you create from them," Mayor Battle said. These developments to be built in the near future will incorporate some of the ideas from the map:

Aldi, an extreme-value grocer which is owned by the same German family as Trader Joe's, and whose first Huntsville store is under construction on US 72 West, will be building its second area store in the Huntsville West shopping center at the intersection of University Drive and Sparkman Drive.

Village of Providence developer Todd Slyman announced that his development is once again expanding, with 200-plus "urban apartments" and a 100-room Hilton-brand hotel, both set to break ground later this year. Several new office/retail buildings are already under construction in the New Urbanist development off of University.

Doug Badia, with O&S Holdings, the developer of Bridge Street, announced that cosmetic store Sephora and apparel retailer Altar'd State will be opening in the lifestyle center later this year.

These projects come on the heels of two other announcements. Kohl's is constructing a 64,000 sq. ft. store in Jones Valley, its second in the city, and is slated to open in late 2011. Walmart will begin construction soon on its long-proposed store on 72 West near Balch Road, its sixth in the city, and will open in the Spring of 2012. The Walmart is part of a larger development by Birmingham-based Colonial Properties Trust, which will also include 360,000 square feet of retail and a 400-unit apartment complex.

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