HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — We have all seen the shiny new shopping centers spring up over the last several years, but what about the aging commercial properties that continue to sit vacant.
The vacant properties create more than just an eyesore, but a drain on the economic engine for the city.
Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle recently commissioned a consulting firm to take an inventory count of the vacant commercial properties inside the city.
During a Thursday work session, the Huntsville City Council received its first look at a retail study on the declining corridors.
The report assesses recent changes in the retail market and offers suggestions for potential development. The study, created by The Shopping Center Group, examined North and South Memorial Parkway and the downtown commercial corridors. The City recognized some of these areas have suffered in the past 12 years because of ongoing road construction.
“No retailer wants to sink a million dollars into a property when the road is torn up,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “We need to finish our major roadways and rethink the use of some of these major commercial corridors.”
Mayor Battle says the retail landscape has changed dramatically with advanced data driven metrics, and he believes the City needs to be equally sophisticated in understanding what retailers’ desire. “Retail may not be the best option for some of these properties, and we need to be open to what is feasible and more creative in thinking about what is a good fit,” said Mayor Battle.
Economic Development Director Michelle Jordan is part of the City’s team that works with current and prospective businesses. “I am excited about adding this important data to my toolbox as we continue to talk to retailers about the Huntsville market,” said Jordan. “Not only will this report help us better understand how retailers select markets, it will also empower us to look at alternative uses of properties if retail isn’t the best option.”
Lacy Beasley with The Shopping Center Group said her company’s goal is to empower City leaders to speak the retail language by providing the education, tools and contacts necessary to make informed decisions.
“Retail is perhaps the fastest changing and most dynamic of all the commercial real estate sectors,” said Beasley. “