Huntsville Developer Announces New Plans for Constellation Property at Parkway & Clinton Ave.

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - A Huntsville developer says there's new life coming to vacant property at the corner of Memorial Parkway and Clinton Avenue.


D. Scott McLain said the stars are aligning for Constellation - including apartments, hotels, retail stores and restaurants.

"We are so excited today to be able to make these announcements of the plan coming together, what it's going to be, the second hotel, the AC Hotels, which is such a fantastic addition to America and Huntsville, Alabama," said McLain.

AC Hotels is a Marriott brand with locations currently in Spain, Italy and Portugal.

"Everything is working now. It's been a very, very hard six years. And, we sort of started this process back then, and now we've worked through those issues. Now we've got our development team. We've got our plan. Our numbers are working. We have the demand from the retailers and the restaurants and the residential and the users. And, we're delighted to be in Huntsville, Alabama, at Constellation."

WHNT News 19 obtained renderings of the new Constellation development in advance. We also met with McLain earlier Tuesday to talk with him in-depth about his new plans for the site.

McLain says the 12-acre area will offer the following:

-A 4-star European style hotel (AC Hotel by Marriott)
-115,680 square feet of retail and restaurants
-150 apartments
-281,800 square feet of office space

The new development has the potential to employ more than 1,800 people, McLain

The total investment is $178 million, McLain said.

He said much of the work over the past six years has been to alleviate potential flooding concerns for the area.

The ground's height was raised, and the city has been working to widen Pinhook Creek and bridges that cross it.


  • Tommythunderball

    Wonder if the Constellation development look cheap like the current hotel with unimpressive building materials, minimalistic landscaping and no trees??? Lets hope the developer and city of Huntsville “upgrade” all new operations in the downtown area.


      Totally agree that the current hotel on site looks really cheap and like an unimaginative concrete box as do a vast majority of the newly constructed buildings in this city. Huntsville City needs to implement design and material requirements on par with more progressive cities. Instead of cookie cutter structures with zero personality, this city needs to demand better! Other towns have design review committees that review plans, make suggestions and approve things that fit in well with the surrounding architecture. Taste is a matter of preference and not everyone will love the circa 1950s/1960s NASA looking design McLain has planned for this site but at least it has some personality and fits with the “Constellation” Rocket City theme McLain has going. I like it! Love the promenade and rooftop gardens.

      • Charlie Noble

        You are correct about demanding more. Demanding accountability is more the need. Have you seen the artist’s rendition of the new Grissom? Westlawn School is a nicer looking building. Where were the proposals, the models, presented by the architects, shown around town for the citizens to vote on. I’m asking a lot considering no one asked the citizens about naming the schools. Who makes those decisions? The new Grissom has no facade, no grand entrance, for a temple of learning. The building should convey to the students the sufficient awe necessary to inspire learning and their good fortune to belong to such a grand space.

        The city (you) paid for most of the Embassy Suites. The building looks like it is made of Legos and then painted flesh colored. We (you) spent more than the developer. We couldn’t make a couple of demands, like the building has to be pretty? It all makes sense to someone..could it be the gang that makes money out of it, so they could care less. I have a hard time remembering the name Embassy Suites. To me it’s the Lego Hotel.

        The artist’s rendition of Constellation looks like an Eisenhower Era depiction of new Howard Johnsons to be built around the country, circa 1959.


        Charlie — I hear ya on the Howard Johnson look and the Embassy Suites is awful! It is a sad thing that this city has come to the point where nobody cares what it looks like or if it will still be standing after 10 years time. All that matters is that it is brand new and their developer buddy gets the contract. But that is the Huntsville we are living in now. Agree with you again on the school architecture and it’s not just the city either. That high school that was built out in Hazel Green a few years back looked just like a big Quaker Oatmeal box with the label ripped off. No wonder they had to build a new section out in front of it to hide it!

    • Shelby Kay

      We have several shopping centers in Huntsville and Madison that are not very old. They are vacant or becoming vacant and this looks bad.
      It is a shame!! Not only have we taken up valuable farm land, which we need with an ever increasing population. These existing building and malls need to be used first. Trees and plants are needed to keep the soil from moving, recall the landslides. I do not like losing the old buildings around the court house. We need to hold on to our history.
      It is said new is not always better.

  • Michael

    There’s a lot of potential in that spot right next to downtown, just off the interstate. Huntsville has been thrown a fastball right over the plate, lets hope they knock it out.


      Yep — Finally, something wonderful for this underutilized area and a huge plus for the entire city! The only problem is the Housing Authority has a bunch of units just west of this location and that will end up being a huge problem — this is another underutilized site that needs to be demolished. That whole west Clinton Ave corridor needs to be redeveloped out to the interstate!

  • Charlie Noble

    I’m sorry, did I miss discovering gold or oil somewhere in the city limits. When is this administration going to get it in their heads that there is only so much money the citizens have to spend. If a new store or restaurant opens it doesn’t mean more tax revenue, it means another store or restaurant doesn’t get the revenue.

    It’s an amazing coincidence how many projects have been announced since the sales tax increase was shoved down our throats. If I pay for the developement I want a financial share of it, otherwise sell bonds. I got my car out of the shop yesterday and paid Huntsville $103.00 in sales tax revenue before lunch.

    How much money did the citizens of Huntsville pay McLain to develope here?

    • Charlie Noble

      Most of the style concepts is always a roll of the dice. One man’s food is another man’s poison. My arguement has always been that if the city wants a project built, do it. Just stay out of my pocket. The citizens get nothing. This administration can sell projects that are for the citizens but that sales pitch is just that. You and I contributes thousands of dollars each, every year via our sales taxes incurred to projects that you and I have to pay $5.00 to park in front of and $10.00 to get in.

      The city can’t get by without increasing sales tax to a wopping 9% but gave away a $2M piece of property on Jefferson and Holmes last week to a guy who successfully brought a new source of goat cheese to a storage facility on Jefferson. Not only did we write him a $2M line of credit for $120/mo. the city elliminated a chance for the citizens to park for free when using the stores downtown. Huntsville, don’t build another botanical garden, art museum, show venue to increase revenue and tell me you built it for me. Name one thing that Huntsville has ever built for “us” that they don’t charge us to park to use and pay to see?

      I used to live in Williamsburg, VA where the entire city exists on people “from away” The locals couldn’t afford to use any of the attractions that brought people to Williamsburg or even dine out with their families. Williamsburg did what Huntsville has to; issue a resident’s card to each household paying property tax. This card gave each citizen of Williamsburg 15% off of every tax funded venue and most merchants joined in gladly. First the fees were frozen for 10 years and then the resident’s cards went into effect. I want a resident’s card, especially for any store, restaurant, hotel, event that any of our tax revenue made possible. What’s fairer than that?

      I don’t need a new highway to get home from work, I live in Huntsville. The people who bought in Lacey Springs, Arab, Guntersville, Madison, Decatur, Ardmore, etc., etc., etc., who bought there to save money on Huntsville taxes need new highways. Again why am I being charged to build the out of towners highways to the city? An “I work in Huntsville tax” of $1.25/wk. should be assesed to every person who works in Huntsville but lives somewhere else for useing our roads, emergency resources, police, etc. long before the city asks me to pay 9% sales tax for it. The biggest problem in that, is that, the city government isn’t afraid of the citizens, a totally untenable situation.

      Kittery, Maine forced the workers of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery who lived in New Hampshire, right across a bridge from the shipyard, to pay taxes in Maine because they routinely, on a daily basis, used all the city provided services that the citizens of Kittery, ME did. It went all the way to the Supreme Court and Kittery, ME won. I assure you that the folks in NH are paying taxes to Kittery, ME today. Charging the “I work in Huntsville” tax is legal and a lot fairer that making me pay more so the people who live in TN can get home in 20 minutes. I could write for days on the city BS.

  • Nuclear Mike

    European hotels just suck and why are we not promoting ALL-American instead of foreign investors in Downtown…there has to be a good’ol’boy under the table deal working here so profits are offshore’and no one can tell who the real owners from here are!!!

  • Nuclear Mike

    Hotels in Europe are just awful unless you are royalty…

    Why is Huntsville not promoting 100% ALL American over Spanish business interests?

    Is this another “good’ol’boy” deal where now the profits go to an off-shore investment company and we never know who the actual local “owners” of this project are in our City Government?

  • Wes

    That’s because it’s an old outdated embarassment of a professional ballpark! Build a new modern park in the right area with the right promotions and people will come! It can be a multi use stadium for concerts and other events that will attract people to our city. It has worked in other cities and it will work here. You have to spend money to make money. The downtown area is in a perfect position to take Huntsville to the next level, it’s a great area with all kinds of possibilities.

    • Charlie Noble

      Here’s a novel idea, spend the money of the people that are going to reap the profits. I’m not going to get any of the action so stay the hell out of my pocket. Of course I’m argueing with a guy that’s trying to sell me on the premise that the problem with the stadium is that it’s a mile from the location that will fix things. Building the stadium was an “oh by the way” with Joe Davis, “I thought I told everyone we’re building a first class ball park”, which they did build. The Big Spring Group is so dark and powerful it makes the Skull and Bones look like the Salvation Army.
      We’d be better off building a concert venue that you could also play baseball on.


        An outdoor concert amphitheater that doubles as a stadium across from the VBC would be good and work well with the convention hotel idea. Huntsville will never draw major conventions until there are enough hotel rooms (1100+) clustered in close proximity. Major conventions mean lots of revenue from visitors. In order to pull in major conventions, visitors need things to do in the down time between convention events and that equates to more revenue spent! More revenue spent helps our tax base, etc.


        Glad you mentioned the Salvation Army. There is one located on Seminole right at Clinton Ave that is a huge problem in that area. It looks like skid row. It will cause problems for this new development. It needs to go too!

  • Jim M

    The problem with the current Ballpark is the location and the size of it. Huntsville needs a stadium downtown perhaps on the old Coke lot the size of the field in Chattanooga would be perfect. I am not a big fan of Ball parks either but it has been a trend in urban renewal to build smaller minor league facilities in a downtown area to spur investment in downtown development.

    • Nuclear Mike

      Correct…Greenville, SC’s ball field is only populated during a game when the City gives away tickets to all the industry nearby to just try to have a crowd now & then show up…

  • Fred

    The conceptual drawing looks terrible and is very outdated! It appears that the view from the parkway is a parking garage not unlike Parkway Place Mall. Please reconsider the design and give us something that at least will be pleasing to the eye as we pass by every day.

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