Future of JCPenney in Huntsville remains unclear

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - As JCPenney representatives confirmed the store will vacate its Madison Square Mall property and close its store there, it is unclear whether the anchor store will find a new home somewhere else in Huntsville.

Monday, JCPenney representatives said in response to our question, "We have not announced any future plans within the Huntsville market."

JCPenney's neighbor, Sears, will return to Huntsville at a spot in the new development on the property. City leaders say they won't give up hope on keeping JCPenney around, too, but they have no news they're ready to share yet.

"We are still negotiating with JC Penney, hoping we can reach some kind of amicable agreement," said Huntsville City Council member Will Culver.

But there are big plans for the property where Madison Square Mall now sits. It will become MidCity Huntsville, a new development receiving lots of publicity through its owner, RCP Companies. Culver said JCPenney's departure clears the way for the mall's demolition, coming just in time to keep the project on schedule.

"This is a step in the right direction as it relates to moving forward with the development," said Culver. "The mall structure itself will be completely demolished and that probably will be at least 6 months to a year, and then we will start with the next phase which will be the commercial real estate, and the retail, then the infrastructure."

JCPenney's representatives say 120 associates will be affected by the closure, and Huntsville leaders have high hopes they will be able to find new jobs within the city.