Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

What’s With All The New Development?

Posted by alalto on July 20, 2011


Maybe you’ve noticed, Decatur’s been kinda popular within the past month or two when it comes to job announcements and retail developments.

Why?

If you asked this question to my face, I’d tell you, “Who cares?”  BUT, since this is a development blog…

Basically, folks, the economy is recovering and we’re ahead of the curve.  Well, really, all of the Tennessee Valley is ahead of the curve.  Huntsville has seen a massive tidal wave of new residential developments in downtown (by Alabama standards), Madison has started construction on a development that will be almost identical to “The Crossings of Decatur,” here we’ve had announcements of an Olive Garden and new shopping center (supposedly including Kohls); and this could all be added to by an Audi announcement (everyone hope and pray).

All of these developments make me ask, “What are we doing in the way of planning to cope with the potential outcomes of these announcements?

The City of Huntsville has set out a great plan for communities surrounding a potential Audi plant in Huntsville annexed Limestone County.  You can read about it here in the Huntsville Development News.

The plan includes village centers, planned residential areas, and probably the first function grid systems since the early 20th century.  Why are grids important?  City’s like Atlanta don’t really have them, so you can guess how they might impact future growth.

Anyways, the effort to mitigate traffic and sprawl problems from these developments has shown promise, but more needs to be done.  I know, I’m always saying that more needs to be done.  It’s true though, The South has never really been at the forefront of planning for its future.  However, some of our cities have really been making a good effort to plan for their future (Huntsville, Montgomery, and Tuscaloosa have been doing the best so far).  There’s no reason why we can’t join the ranks.  It’s time that we make the efforts of the “Downtown Decatur Redevelopment Authority” an official part of the city planning department.

I’m happy that within the past month we’ve had two announcements that will add over 300 jobs to the market, but I want to be sure that the people that move here to take those jobs will be building homes in a way that compliments the residents that already reside here.

ANYWAYS, back to the original reason for this post.  Why the developments are here.

1)  North Alabama has a very diverse economy.  Decatur is the manufacturing anchor, while Huntsville is the tech anchor, so our region easily recovers from a weak economy.

2)  Morgan County had very little damage from the April tornadoes, and zero deaths.

3)  We have a skilled workforce to draw from.  Any industry can set up in our town and expect to have applicants that have specialties from robotics to assembly lines.

How will all of this affect us?

I know many of us are wondering how this will affect our own pockets and patience.  Basically, you’re going to see A LOT more traffic around the 6th/Beltline intersection.

What will that lead to?  I think you’ll start to see leaders thinking about widening nearby roads like Veterans Drive as citizens attempt to take alternate routes.  Additionally, you’ll see more traffic along AL 20/ALT 72, but the newly widened Beltline should help tremendously.

 

All in all, the affect shouldn’t be that huge in how much it messes with your patience.  BUT, I think you’ll start to notice that you’re traveling to Huntsville less and less.  After Academy was built, I think that kept nearly 175,000 people from making thousands of trips to Huntsville because they could now shop for pretty much anything they needed in Decatur.  After these new developments, we’ll see more of that, which really helps our school budgets and city coffers.

It’s all good people, embrace it 😉

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