HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – The Huntsville City Planning Commission voted unanimously Tuesday evening, to rezone the 126 acres on the corner of Carl T. Jones and Ledge Drive.
The property is currently zoned for multi-family and small neighborhood retail use, but if the rezoning passes through City Council it will be zoned as highway business C-4, allowing for a 400,000 square foot shopping center.
Developer Raymond Jones, Jr. compares the proposed center to the existing big-box shopping center across the street. The proposed plaza would house much smaller retail shops, with spaces ranging from 6,000 to 140,000 square feet.
During public comments, residents aired concerns about the aesthetics of another shopping center, that would take the place of what was at one time the nation’s largest farm in an urban area.
“My concern is there are no provisions in the zoning code to leave anything as open land,” said area resident David Nuttall. “What’s being proposed looks like every other development. There’s nothing new about it. It’s parking in front of shops, it’s not high end.”
Another resident, James Linderholm, would prefer the development go elsewhere.
“It’s a big change, and we seem to have a lot of highway commercial areas that are not being utilized, lying vacant,” said Linderholm. “Perhaps [those properties] would be better.”
But developer, Raymond Jones, Jr., says the retailers don’t want to be elsewhere, with their eyes on Jones Valley.
“You can look at the shopping center across the streeet, and it’s been 100% occupied since day one, 12 years ago,” said Jones. “There is high demand for retail. Developers are coming to us about being in the area.”
The rezoning still has to pass through City Council. If passed, an ambitious target for the project’s groundbreaking would be late 2014.