The Big Picure: Your Study. Your Vision. Your Plan for the City of Huntsville

Vision

  • Huntsville development patterns are sustainable and cost-effective because they integrate a mix of complementary uses at a variety of scales.

About

Huntsville was built largely in a classic suburban development pattern, the hallmarks of which are deference to cars and a strict separation of uses. This development pattern was the result of both public policy and consumer preferences. However, over the past two decades, the hidden costs of this development pattern have begun to be more clearly understood. These costs include both money and time as residents are forced to commute from their homes to work, school, and shopping. Thus, mixed-use developments that combine various components of housing, offices, and retail have become popular in the marketplace. These mixed-use developments have the potential to slow, and possibly reverse, the decline of aging suburban communities.

 

Because the existing major commercial corridors – Memorial Parkway and University Drive – already have a great deal of commercial development, mixed-use projects in Huntsville should be heavily weighted towards residential, with much smaller portions set aside for retail and office use.

Actions

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    Study the viability of creating a city-wide Community Development Corporation (CDC) to acquire land to hold for development, or create a land banking system.

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    Provide incentives for large-scale mixed-use redevelopment projects, such as infrastructure investments or bond financing, among others.

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    Utilize the land area throughout the City more efficiently and consolidate uses or assemble parcels to help spur development of underutilized parcels.

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    Form urban enterprise zones as a way of revitalizing particular target areas, including special tax breaks or exemptions for those who make property investments and improvements in these areas.

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    De-emphasize public investment in new development on vacant land closer to the edges of the city limits in order to focus and concentrate on rehabilitation efforts in disinvested areas, especially redevelopment of existing developed parcels.

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    Transform downtown Huntsville into a vibrant mixed-use district by increasing and enhancing the retail and residential amenities and continuing to update and improve office uses.  Maintain an updated Master Plan for Downtown.

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    Select key sites for strategic mixed-use redevelopment projects in North Huntsville, South Huntsville, Hampton Cove, and the central core of the City.

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    Seek outside developers in order to achieve transformative mixed-use redevelopment projects.  These projects generally require complex financing and are fairly large, architecturally interesting, and pedestrian-focused.   They will likely require the expertise of developers in other cities who have already built such projects, possibly in partnership with local property owners.