The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

February 25, 2013

Madison leaders detail growth, future

From staff reports

— Though some North Alabamians may regard Madison as the sleepy bedroom community just west of bustling Huntsville, the city has been anything but quiet over the last year.

Annexations by Huntsville may have left Madison with no room to grow, but city leaders continue to look at potential development of existing land.

With the opening of the new state-of-the-art James Clemens High School, Madison Hospital and a host of retail stores and restaurants, the city has become a major player in the fight to pick up valuable revenue from residents who reside in Athens and Limestone County.

A progress report of completed, ongoing and future projects was provided this week to The News Courier from the city’s economic development office. The report said the city’s officials were pleased that projected revenues from The Shoppes of Madison were higher than anticipated through the holiday season.

The Target-anchored shopping center also includes a Ross, Kinnucan’s, Great Clips, Kay Jewelers, Petco, Dollar Tree and restaurants Pie in the Sky, Fulin’s Asian Cuisine, Panera Bread, Which Wich, Smash Burger and Zen Beri Frozen Yogurt.

A Buena Vista Mexican Cantina will also open at the development later this year.

Back toward Athens between The Shoppes of Madison and Progress Bank is 30,000 square feet of retail development dubbed Medical Park Station. Currently being developed by Birmingham-based Terra Equities, the development will include Dunkin Donuts, Mattress Firm and Taziki’s.

A project rendering on Terra Equities’ website shows other businesses, including Norton’s Books, a Sprint Store, Schaeffer Eye Center and Bella’s Boutique, but those businesses have not been officially announced by Madison officials.

Downtown Madison is also generating more development interest. The Cotton Gin, a new boutique, and Sady’s Bistro, a new café, recently opened and officials say additional announcements for downtown will be forthcoming.

Madison officials are also exploring options along County Line Road, a thoroughfare packed with residential rooftops and available land.

The Publix shopping center will soon be home to Saffron, a new Indian restaurant. The city has also had development inquiries from gasoline stations and fast-food restaurants near the site of the new James Clemens High School, which is in Madison-annexed portions of Limestone County.

Changes are also taking place along Madison Boulevard, including the ongoing construction of a new Logan’s Roadhouse. Sci-Quest Hands-on Science Center will also be relocating from Wynn Drive in Huntsville to Madison’s Old Time Pottery shopping center.

“As Intergraph begins to build their new five-story office building south of I-565 we expect additional interest from others seeking ideal office, restaurant and retail sites,” said the report from the city’s development office. “With over 1,200 hotel rooms in the corridor already, Logan’s will serve visitors well along with existing sit-down, fast food and local choices.”

Huntsville growth

Though many may mistake other developments east of County Line Road — like the new Walmart shopping center on U.S. 72 — as Madison projects, they are solely Huntsville projects.

The new Walmart opened for business in the fall, and work continues to develop land to the south of the store. A Zaxby’s and Panda Express opened within the last two weeks.

The three-phase project, developed by Birmingham-based Colonial Properties, is far from completion. Phase 2 will consist of 80,000 square feet of commercial space, while Phase 3 includes a 27-acre multifamily residential development.

Another Huntsville project, Madison Corners, is also nearing completion. Nashville-based GBT Realty Corp. announced late last month the project is 70 percent leased.

Located at the corner of U.S. 72 and Balch Road, the development contains Firehouse Subs, LawLer’s Barbecue, Hibachi Express and La Belle Nail Salon. Four additional, 1,600-square-foot spaces remain available.

The company has also closed on the sale of out parcels to BB&T bank and I Love Sushi, a popular local restaurant with one other location in Huntsville. Both are under construction and expected to be completed this summer.

A remaining 3.12-acre parcel is still available, which could accommodate many uses including office space or a hotel.

The sale of a 3.49-acre parcel has been sold to Triad Properties Corp. for the construction of a planned 60,000-square-foot, Class A, medical office building.

A second phase multi-tenant retail building is also to be developed containing 7,200 square feet. This addition is expected to start in spring.