Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘Decatur’

High End Apartments for Young Professionals?

Posted by alalto on July 7, 2011


The Daily recently did an article about how the city is attempting to attract a developer that will construct some upper class apartments in order to attract young professionals that work in the city.

While I believe that the effort is a good one, and I agree that we need to be working harder to keep our young professionals from living outside our city, I’m not sure how well the city’s idea would work.

Why?

Put bluntly, Decatur doesn’t have good nightlife.  Retaining these young professionals is all fine and dandy, but they have to have something to do, right?  We have some good restaurants, and downtown is FINALLY starting to pick up as far as night business goes.  BUT, more has to happen before we can truly have something that these 20 somethings desire.  I should know, I’m 22, as of today of course.  It’s my birthday 😉

Anyways, if this apartment complex idea is to be effective, it has to be constructed in or near downtown.  Why?  Because young people are more and more trying to get away from driving EVERYWHERE.  Our 20 somethings that have grown up in Decatur may not be so open to walking everywhere because of our car based layout, but young professionals that have attended schools like Alabama, Auburn, Vandy, or Ohio State have been using public transit for years.  I remember when I first got to Alabama, I never thought I’d use the buses, but they turned out to be an invaluable asset in the mornings…  So, since we cannot at present provide adequate public transit, we need to be able to provide a walkable community.

Bottom line is that our city needs to start working constructing walkable communities.  I was very happy with how they installed sidewalks along Sandlin Rd, and the results have been great.  There’s been much more foot traffic.  So, we need to replicate that, especially along 6th Ave.  That street is aging and needs something to bring it back.

So, all in all, the city’s idea for a high end apartment complex is a good one.  BUT, they need to be careful on which area they’re interested in for this project or else it will never succeed.

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Tuesday’s Referendum

Posted by alalto on April 16, 2010


Following Tuesday’s referendum, I have begun to feel optimistic enough start posting again on here. While it’s possible that the Justice Department might not OK the council-manager government, the Sunday alcohol sales approval is enough that it could positively impact the city in numerous ways.

Benefits of Sunday alcohol sales

1) A wider variety of restaurants: It’s a well known fact that there are many restaurants that usually won’t even think about going to a city that doesn’t allow Sunday alcohol sales. True, some will move to cities that don’t allow the sales, but that usually only occurs in large metropolitan areas like Birmingham, Nashville, Atlanta, and on up.

Now, restaurants that could potential begin looking at Decatur, now that the sale of alcohol is allowed on Sundays, are Olive Garden, Buffalo Wild Wings, Carrabba’s, etc… And now that Longhorn Steakhouse is already establishing itself in Decatur, the research, facts, and demographics have already been looked at and people know the situation. That’s not to say that we’re going to be seeing these things pop up over night, it’s going to take time.

As far as location goes, I’d like to see at least one restaurant locate downtown that is investing in the city because of Sunday sales.

2) Increased tax revenue: In this kind of economic climate, every municipality could benefit from some extra tax dollars. While restaurants take time to develop, increased tax revenues will be felt more readily. I’m not sure how these tax dollars will be allocated, I think the jury is still out on how the city will use the money.

Council-manager

I’ve always been a fan of this form of government, because it cuts out a lot of red tape and creates a more fluid government. Unfortunately, there’s no telling how this will go when the Justice Department looks at it. Billy Jackson sees the whole approval of this switch as an attempt to stomp out the minority vote in the city and I hope that his constituents have taken notice of his willingness to work with other officials in creating a system that works for everyone, not just the majority of Decaturites.

What is possible is that the state legislature could attempt to make an exception for the city in this situation to change the make up of the future council. For example, instead of having three districts, there could be five, allowing for what we currently have in the way of District 1, which gives the minority vote a seat on the council.

I’m hopeful that something good will come of all this, but you can never tell.

Anyways, I expect to post on here more frequently now that I have a bit more time on my hands, and I’m a little more optimistic.

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Council-Manager?

Posted by alalto on August 27, 2009


There has been a lot of talk about possibly changing the form of Decatur’s city government into a “manager-council” government, instead of the “mayor-council” government which we have now.

The difference is this. Instead of having the mayor and council take care of the day to day city operations, a manager would be selected (under intense scrutiny) by the city council. The manager would take care of day to day operations.

Some notable cities with a “manager-council” government are Greenville, SC; Brentwood, TN; Dallas, TX;

The mayor position would basically become a ceremonial position, with little power. I am personally a fan of this form of government. But, it isn’t my opinion that matters when it comes down to it. It is what the entire city wants that matters. So, I am asking everyone to sign this petition and drop it by “Forever Flying Kites” on Spring Avenue, or mail it in. Signing this petition will not instantly change the government. It will simply force the city to have a vote on this idea in 2010.

Please at least consider it:

Petition Link

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2008 City Census Estimates Released

Posted by alalto on July 2, 2009


The 2008 Census Estimates for cities were released yesterday. In Alabama, the city that gained the most numerically was Huntsville, growing by about 5,000 people. Since 2000, Huntsville has grown by about 16,700 people. After Huntsville came Tuscaloosa with about 12,000. In terms of percentage growth, Calera (a Birmingham suburb) was tops with 211% since 2000, growing by about 7,000 people to around 10,000. After Calera came Vance (a Tuscaloosa suburb).

Other cities our region:

Decatur: A slow grower, Decatur has gained about 2,000 people since 2000, last year gaining about 500.  The growth rate has begun to increase slightly, so we’ll see where that takes us.  Sadly, Auburn surpassed Decatur to take the number 8 spot among the largest cities in the state.  Decatur now sits at # 9 with 56,068 people.

Athens: The third largest city in Huntsville’s metro area, Athens has been growing a good pace.  The city has grown by about 5,000 people since 2000, and about 1,000 in the past year.  The growth rate has definitely increased as the East Limestone region of the Valley has started to influence growth on the suburban parts of Athens.

Madison: Among the fastest growing cities in the state, it has gained nearly 10,000 people in the past 8 years.  It now stands at 38,714.

Somerville: Since 2000 Somerville has lost about 200 people.  Lately, however, the town has begun to gain again.  A good sign.  Current estimates show the population at 505.

Hartselle: The second largest city in Morgan County and the Decatur Metropolitan Area has continued with its steady growth.  A very slow grower for the first half of the decade, the city has slowly started to grow a little faster.  The city now stands at 13,888.

Eva: The second smallest city in Morgan County has continued its very slow growth.  It now stands at 587.

Falkville: Until 2005, the city was losing people.  However, the population has turned around.  The population has lost people since 2000, however, the city has gained 1 person in the past year.

Trinity: A fast grower for a city its size, it now stands at 1,976.

Moulton: A city with VERY spastic growth, Moulton has gained just 7 net citizens since 2000.  But, growth is growth, the city has gained about 10 in the past year.

Priceville: Priceville is still one of the fastest growing cities in the state. Since 2000, Priceville’s population has increased by about 1,100 people, or 70%.

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I’m back!

Posted by alalto on May 6, 2009


ALSO!  I’ve created a forum on Forumer.com!   So, if y’all feel like it, I’m welcoming anyone who want to join to, well… JOIN!  Haha, anyways, here’s the link: LiveDecatur Forum

I know, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve updated this thing…  And, now that finals are almost over in Tuscaloosa, I hope to get this thing moving again 🙂  Fact is, development in the River City had been moving very slowly for the past few months, but, lately, I’ve been more inspired.   Haha.  Anyways, I hope to be a bit predictable as far as how often I update.

So, let’s go over some stuff that’s been happening.

ACADEMY SPORTS & OUTDOORS

So, the Academy location has started construction along The Beltline, I’m sure you’ve noticed if you’ve driven through SW lately.  This is yet another example of the strength of our local economy, compared to other cities across the U.S.

BELTLINE WIDENING

The first phase of the widening is finish, and the 2nd phase has begun, though, no visible construction has started.

ARTS CENTER

It was in the Daily yesterday that Calhoun and Athens State have finally come up with plans for an arts school in Downtown Decatur.  This is a very good partnership.  Athens and Decatur need to form better partnerships, because the ones that used to exist have been demolished by the political influence of Huntsville and Madison.  Anyways, I’m very skeptical about this project.  It’s certainly possible, it’s just that I’m expecting an entity to back out, citing the economic state of the country.  All in all, I hope this momentum keeps up.

For now, that’s all I have.  If I think of anything else, I’ll just make another update later.  Right now… time to study!

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Academy plat approved!

Posted by alalto on October 22, 2008


The Decatur Planning Commission approved the plat for the Academy Sports and Outdoors store adjacent to Home Depot along the Beltline. The city council still has to approve the utility vacations, but those are expected to pass easily.

A marketing director for Academy cited the strong/stable economy in Decatur as a big reason that the sports retail giant decided to expand into Decatur. This store will not only be one of the few in Alabama, but it will also be the first in the Huntsville-Decatur Area.

Also, the commission recomended that a large amount of acreage be annexed into the city of Decatur. This comes as a result of the city’s new sewage expansion fund that aids in the extension of sewer lines in order to annex more land into the city. The land being consider is located near Woodall Road along Alabama 20. McDonad’s was the first business to be attracted using the fund.

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Ready for a rebound?

Posted by alalto on October 15, 2008


Is Decatur ready for a rebound in this horrid economy?
(btw, if you only wanna read about Decatur’s economy, just scroll down to the bottom)

I’m thinkin it is. Take a look at the Decatur Daily… If you take out all the stories about what’s happening nationally and you focus on what’s happening in the state, it appears that the economy in Alabama is just business as usual. That’s not to say that there isn’t a problem going on that we just can’t see. There is, we know it. National stock declines have an effect on all publically (sp?) traded companies, and there are a lot of those in Alabama.

First of all, we have been very fortunate. The bank that holds the largest amount of the banking market in Alabama (Regions Financial) has been effected by the economic slump. Forunately for our state, the Southeaster United States isn’t in as bad a shape as the rest of the country. The economic conditions going on will only magnify the Northern cities that are experience a mass exodus of their population. Which cities are these? Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Buffalo. These were the major manufacturing centers of the 20th Century and they’ve been going through a rough time in the past few decades.

Let’s compare these northern cities to some southern ones. New Orleans, Birmingham, Mobile and to some extent Jackson. Detroit and New Orleans, major manufacturing cities, shipping ports and a hub of culture and money. That isn’t so anymore. Pittsburgh and Birmingham. THERE is where you’ll find a HUGE contrast. Read below:

Pittsburgh and Birmingham:

Here’s how I look at it, enormous manufacturing cities all go through I process that I like to call “eating/digesting themselves”. Both Pitt and Bham were huge steel producing cities, so they’re easy to compare. Birmingham has done a fantastic job and the city is in it’s last leg of the digestion process. These cities have to nearly collapse and fail before they can be reborn and turn into regions burgeoning with economic prosperity. Pittsburgh has just begun their journey down the throat. Birmingham was fortunate that when the steel industry in the U.S. began to shrink, the mills went to Pittsburgh. Why was that good? The city had to find a place to create jobs, which is where UAB came in. UAB, the largest employer in the state and a university that has a multi-billion dollar impact on the state’s economy. Yes, Pitt has some great schools, but they have not been the focus of job creation to replace the aging steel industry.

To stop comparing cities, let’s focus on why Alabama is more primed for a rebound than other states. Two main reason, IMO, slow growth (stable economy) and prime developable land.

Take a look at this map:

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McD’s and Annexation

Posted by alalto on October 1, 2008


I was correct about what I read in the paper the other day about what was being considered during the city council meeting. Decatur is getting it’s 4th McDonald’s restaraunt, it will be located on Alabama 20 near Woodall Road.

The developers of the McDonald’s are also planning to annex 130 acres into the city.

This annexation announcement has been brought on by the city’s use of a sewer fund to attract development by helping to cover the cost of sewer service, which is a huge draw to businesses and residential development.

This is the second time the fund has been used since it was created, the first being the 400 unit housing development on Burleson Mountain being built/annexed.

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City seeks downtown grant

Posted by alalto on September 30, 2008


The city council approved 5-0 a venture to ask for a state grant of $400,000 for streetscape work on the lower portion of Bank Street. Improvements would include the conversion of the 4 lanes to 2 lanes, diagonal parking, wider sidewalks, improved lighting and a brick paved median.

All of this would be meant to encourage development along the lower portion of Bank Street, which is key to improving the connection between downtown and Mid-Downtown (Bank Street). Funding is already being gathered for improvements on 2nd Avenue and Lee Street.

Judging by the topics covered in the city council meeting, it appears that a McDonalds (really just someone with the name McDonalds USA) might be locating along Alabama 20. I’ll see if I can figure anything else out.

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Beltline, Job Growth, e Calhoun

Posted by alalto on September 10, 2008


Hello everyone, I hope you’ve had a good past….few weeks, haha, sorry for my absence, AGAIN.

Anyways, there really hasn’t been any news as of lately, until today! Phase 1 of the Beltline expansion is nearly finished and should be completed within 3 to 4 weeks. Phase 2 (the stretch between Alabama 20/ALT US 72 and Gordon Terry Parkway/Alabama 24) is expected to begin sometime soon. Insurance stuff between the railroads and the state have delayed the project a bit. Officials say that funding is not a problem.

Job Growth continues for Decatur. In Alabama Decatur has the highest percentage of companies expecting to hire more people.

Calhoun Community College is also expecting a record enrollment of nearly 10,000 students. Calhoun is the largest 2 year college in the state. Overall it is one of the largest colleges period. The largest being the University of Alabama with over 25,000.

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