Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

Posts Tagged ‘downtown’

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.

Advertisements

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

My Idea for 2nd Ave

Posted by alalto on October 22, 2009


When you look at downtown, what do you see? A lot of cement, asphalt, and stone. Most of it, amazingly white and hot. It almost make it seem too hot to even get out of your car right? While there is a big streetscape project going on right now, but I feel that A LOT more could be done.

A big detriment to Decatur’s downtown is the fact that it isn’t truly centered around a body of water. If you look at the most successful and enjoyable downtowns in the country, they’re all on water, and they embrace it. New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, Nashville, Memphis, and the list goes on. In Alabama, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Florence, etc… all do pretty good jobs of using the river to their advantage.

While we can’t move downtown physically and place it right next to river, there are some other things we can do. Think of the pocket park, or the fountain at Delano, or any other park that utilizes a water feature, they’re all big attractions that attract people and make a downtown area seem more enjoyable and not so “hot” and oppressive.

So here is my idea. We’re fortunate enough to have a good street grid in downtown. 2nd avenue is pretty heavily traveled, BUT, the streets that parallel 2nd are very underused and under traveled. Keeping that in mind, this is what I propose.

Tear up the road on 2nd avenue. Construct an artificial creek where the road used to be. A good example of what this entire thing might look like is centennial Olympic park in Atlanta:

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta

Here is a map of what I propose:

2nd Avenue Decatur

Now, the above seems like it would disrupt all the efforts that the city is putting into the area, but that is simply not true. The streetscaping that they are doing mostly lies in the form of the sidewalks, which would be used, and expanded in this proposal.

Starting at Johnston Street, the road would be torn up and replaced with a creek-bed. Paralleling the creek would be a sidewalk on either side. I would propose a large waterfall somewhere down the road, maybe in front of Emiron Music or maybe next to the pocket park, to enhance the stream and turning it into more of a magnet. People like to see nature in downtown areas, and this is a great way to do it. Plus, this would create a cool spot to sit around on summer shopping trips in downtown for people to get away from all the heat.

At the foot of the creek, there would be a main plaza with a pond where the creek ends. I would propose putting in a grand fountain in the middle. This would act as a central location for downtown, or a true “square” something that Decatur probably hasn’t had since the mid 1800s.

This type of development would look like Bridge Street Towne center in Huntsville, except I’d think it would be better looking. It would make downtown look much much better, attract more people downtown, and would attract those boutique retail stores that cities all over the country are attempting to bring to town.

Would this be expensive? Yes, it would, but in my opinion, this is a sure fire way to bring people downtown.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Lots o’ good news

Posted by alalto on May 19, 2009


There was a lot of good news announced in the Decatur Daily today.

The city council unanimously approved the $800,000 requested by the colleges for the arts campus. The county of course also approved their portion a few days ago. The city donated the money, as well as the property, to the State Board of Education, for the campus.

An interesting note was made that Morgan County is the most populous county in the state that does not have an institution of higher education within its borders.

I’m really happy about this. Not only with this provide for improved access to education in the city, and economic development in downtown, but it will also keep some of the oldest buildings in downtown from being demolished.

Another development with this is that the two year college chancellor is planning to resign. What we saw last time this happened was another slow down on this project. They’re saying that the chancellor stepping down shouldn’t have any effect on the project. And, I’m praying that this is true…

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Various…ness

Posted by alalto on May 14, 2009


So, I’m bored, so I thought I’d just write an entry about some random crap that randomly crosses my mind at random moments….

So, first for some news. From the Daily, Morgan County approved $800,000 for the downtown arts program, and I’m hoping that the city follows through on their end.

Anyways, I was reading in the Daily, again, about how Gadsden has all these downtown events. They attract people and they are actually entertaining. And they are, I’ve been to many of them. My dad’s side of my family is from Gadsden, so I’m very familiar with the town. They do an excellent job of tying the city in with it’s river heritage, and exploit it without destroying the natural beauty.

So, I was thinking that the city already has a lot of things going on downtown. The problem is, no one knows about them, and they are so scattered that no one can choose to spend a night on the town and go to multiple events. They have to decide to go to one or another. We have a lot of resources downtown, we just don’t take advantage of it. The Princess is a HUGE asset to the city, and we don’t even exploit its existence. Sure, we all like it there, but not many of us can say that we attend events there regularly.

And honestly, the Princess is one of the nicest performance venues in the state. There aren’t many cities that have a venue like we do, and we need to use it.

So, I have an idea. Which, I think I might have mentioned in the past on this blog, I’m not quite sure. Here it is:

2nd Avenue and Bank Street. They’re two streets that are just lined with great places to eat and entertain. Now, at the moment, they’re doin alright, but they could be doing so much better. My idea is this, shut down 2nd Avenue and Bank Street to vehicle traffic and only allow foot traffic. To give a better example, Beale Street in Memphis, and Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Of course, we could never dream of being as popular with this as Bourbon Street. But, I think that this could be a huge success.

The city wants to attract young professionals to the city. Young people that are looking to live somewhere that is fun, has a great quality of life, a lot of cultural diversity, and somewhere that they can themselves contribute to. These people come here, settle down, have kids, and contribute greatly to the economy. Possibly the best example of this type of growth is Austin, Texas, which uses the University of Texas to attract young professionals.

To get back to my idea. You may be pessimistic about this, and I honestly don’t think there is any reason to be. Because, if we get the arts school program downtown like we want to, we can expect the students at the school to participate and get they’re friends and family to come downtown to enjoy everything. College students are some of the best advertisers you could ever ask for. I would know, I’m one of them.

Now, I don’t know all of the things that could impede something like this. So, putting all possible road blocks aside, here’s my plan.

Starting at the southern most portion of downtown, at the Gordon Drive intersection, block of Second Avenue to vehicular traffic (diverting 2nd Ave traffic to 1st Ave). Then, block of 2nd Ave to vehicular traffic at the northern part of the street at the intersection with Lee Street. Of course, if we wanted to start out small, we could shut down 2nd Ave from Johnston Street to Lee Street. I would also suggest closing off Moulton Street between 1st and 2nd Ave.

So, now we have all of 2nd Avenue only open to foot traffic. Obviously, we have places like Maria Bonita open for nightlife eating and stuff. We would have certain performances at Maria Bonita, Princess Theatre, and then some kind of finale performance in the ginormous parking lot at the SW corner of 2nd Ave and Lee Street. So, crowds could like move gradually north along 2nd as the night progresses. A kickoff could start off with a more personal setting at the pocket park with various performances and such. The crowd would then move to eateries around the 2nd Ave/Moulton St. After the eateries, people would move further north to a performance at the Princess or maybe a free performance across the street at the vacant lot, or at the arts school. After these performances, people would then migrate to the finale type event in the parking lot.

See, I think that we can get all these entities to work together and form a schedule that, instead of conflicting with eachother, works together to create a fantastic night of entertainment that could be repeated once every month or so.

So, any opinions?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Could Calhoun Come Calling????

Posted by alalto on May 12, 2009


So, in today’s Daily, Senator Arthur Orr pitched the requests for the Calhoun downtown campus to the city council. Basically, it just outlined what he believes is needed from the city for the project to move forward. These types of things include the old furniture store on 2nd Ave, the old DU Warehouse and the former Elks’ Lodge building. I’m almost certain that the city will deed these properties to the cause, considering that they’ve pretty much been sitting on these structures, waiting for the moment to hand them over to the college.

The city’s contributions are nearly a check off for the project, and I’m sure the county’s contributions are the same status.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more sure about this project. Finally seems like it’s going to happen. I’m so happy with this project that I can hardly stand it. It will be amazing to see more traffic and economic activity in downtown without taking business away from 6th Avenue and the Beltline.

Other things going on…

I noticed that the intersection of to streets just off Stratford Road SE is being improved. This intersection, that is heavily traveled by cars on their way to Eastwood Elementary in the mornings, and can be quite interesting to drive through with the kind of drainage that exists. Anyways, it’s improving.

Also, the weather monitoring system along Interstate 65 at the Tennessee River bridge is nearly complete, if not complete already. This system is supposed to aid in the notification of conditions along the nearly 2.5 mile long bridge. Which, I’m sure we all know, is quite frightening to drive over during hazardous conditions. If I’m not mistaken, some notification screens, much like the ones along McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa, should be in place to notify motorists, but I’m not completely sure about it.

In other news, Lawrence County Schools has decided to consolidate some HS’s in order to save money and such. Lawrence has been hard hit by their shrinking population, so they’ve had to come up with some different type of organization to aid in making the system more…organized.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New hospital for Moulton??

Posted by alalto on August 14, 2008


In today’s Daily, the plan to build a new hospital in Moulton was mentioned. Patient numbers have increased quite a bit in the past few years and the building isn’t adequate for the expected future patient numbers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the current hospital is on the edge of downtown.

In other news, Sweetwater has hit yet another snag. Again with finding a hotel developer. John Q Hammons had thrown his support behind developing a hotel at Sweetwater, but because he was recently hospitalized, for some reason, the deal is off. I don’t think this is really a big deal, I mean, what hotel developer wouldn’t want to locate here???

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Phase 1 of Uptown Art District?

Posted by alalto on August 7, 2008


Ok, so, I was just surfing around the internet. I was just doing some digging to find some development stuff that might now be being told to the public, or advertised as much. So, I stumbled across the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority and I was just clickin around. So, apparently, the Phase 1 of the Uptown Art District is what is going on across 2nd Avenue from the Princess Theatre!!! I’ve been wondering what’s going on over there, and now we finally know! I wonder why this wasn’t released to the public. Hmmm, anyways. It’s just supposed to be an outdoor performance plaza. This is goingt to be a great asset to downtown and the effort to attract funding for the downtown arts district.

Here’s the link to the picture.

Phase 1

Be sure to snoop around some more on that sight. It’s got some pretty cool stuff in it.

Remember, I LOVE me some feedback!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »