The long-awaited redevelopment of Madison Square Mall in Huntsville is one step closer to reality.
The Huntsville City Council voted Thursday to approve an urban renewal and development agreement between the city and Mid-City Owner, LLC, to revitalize the Madison Square area, which has struggled in recent years with higher crime, declining property values and low mall occupancy.
The agreement will allow Mid-City Owner, affiliated with Huntsville-based developer RCP Companies and other equity providers, to redevelop a portion of the property the city does not need for public infrastructure upgrades under the newly-adopted urban renewal plan for Cummings Research Park East.
Mid-City can now begin the process of launching a mixed-use development at the property on University Drive. City of Huntsville Director of Urban Development Shane Davis said the developer has 60 days to create a formal design guide and site plan, which must be approved by the council before it can move forward.
“I think when it is complete, for west Huntsville, it will feel like their own mini downtown,” he said. “It’ll have a lot of attributes that you see in downtown Huntsville with a little more retail options than downtown has.”
Davis said Mid-City is required to develop a minimum of 150,000 square feet of commercial and office space, 350,000 square feet of retail, a hotel with at least 100 rooms and 560 multi-family units. It is not yet known who will anchor the project or when the mall will close to make room for the development.
A cannibalization clause in the agreement said 70 percent of the businesses must be new to the Huntsville market, Davis added.
“We’ve got some great retail centers along University Drive and of course Bridge Street and the Parkside Town Centre that just opened last fall with Cabela’s,” Davis said. “We want to preserve those. We do not want to create a new retail center only just to move addresses. We want to bring more options to the community and protect those who have already made that investment and got great retailers in their market.”
The redevelopment plan will be implemented as follows:
- 2016: Project design
- 2017-18: Phase I
- 2019-20: Phase II
- 2021-22: Phase III
- 2021-22: Phase IV
Davis said the developer plans to spend $350 million to $450 million in private investment on the project, while the city’s contribution will be $10 million to $12 million over a 5-7 year period.
RCP Companies Director of Acquisitions and Asset Management Odie Fakhouri said his company supports Mayor Tommy Battle and the city’s efforts to revitalize Research Park through the urban renewal plan.
“We fully understand the city’s vision and goals of the urban renewal plan, and RCP is confident that we will present a redevelopment plan that will not only satisfy those goals, but provide a project that the community will be proud of,” he told AL.com in a statement. “Upon approval as the redeveloper of the Urban Renewal Site, RCP will deploy one of the most forward-thinking urban development teams in the world to deliver a redevelopment plan like never before seen in the Southeast and that is deserving of the Huntsville community.”