Cities are rarely uniform in character; particularly those as broad in land area as Huntsville. The planning process identified eight “subareas”– sections of the city that share characteristics and may share some key concerns and opportunities. The eight areas are: Downtown, East, East Central, North, Northwest, Southeast, Southwest and West Central.
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Four of these areas saw a considerable increase in residential development and population growth between 2000 and 2010:
The Northwest sub-area will continue to develop at a rapid pace over the next several years, but unless annexations occur in this area of the city, growth in the area will begin to slow. The area will continue to be home for the majority of Huntsville’s student population, making the median household income and education level vary by neighborhood. The area will continue to provide a diverse housing market to students and young professionals living in apartments and single families with higher incomes living in the Limestone County portion of this subarea.
The East Central subarea will continue to grow over the next few years, particularly in the Jones Valley area. The workforce is highly educated and the population has a high median household income; wealthier neighborhoods in the southern most part of this subarea have median incomes upwards of $120,000. Except for Jones Farm (630 acres), there is very little developable land in the subarea. Much of the growth in this subarea will be piecemeal, as younger families move into older households.
Growth in the Southwest subarea may be attributed to abundant land, diverse housing options, and a short commute time to RSA. Growth will continue in Madison-annexed Limestone County, but land is limited. As land in Madison becomes scarcer, Huntsville-annexed Limestone County will become more desirable for development. Another potential factor in development is the TVA Megasite in Greenbrier that could become the site for a major manufacturing facility, fueling residential growth in the area. Over the next several years, growth in population, housing, educational attainment levels and incomes in the Limestone County portion of the subarea is expected to increase.
The East subarea is the wealthiest and one of the most educated subareas. Due to natural development limitations like mountain slopes and floodplain, however, this area of Huntsville will not continue to grow at the velocity it once did, and will likely run out of developable land in the next 20 years. Population in the subarea will continue to be highly educated with high incomes.