Huntsville leaders hope to spur new growth at Research Park

HUNTSVILLE, Ala.- Huntsville leaders are considering a new plan to invite more businesses to Research Park.

"Let's go grab lunch, sit down outside, have some discussions about what we're working on," said Cummings Research Park Director Erin Koshut. "What our life is like outside, and enjoy it together rather than sitting in our car in traffic."

Koshut said a group is working hard to bring changes like that to Research Park and that it starts with changing the zoning.

"This will allow for restaurants, some limited retail, buildings closer to the street," said  Jim Mcguffey, Manager of Planning Services.

"They are looking for areas where their employees can walk to service areas, where they can grab breakfast, lunch, get their hair cut," Koshut said.

Koshut added that the problem with Research Park certainly isn't a lack of jobs. It's that it's all work and no play.

"This also provides the opportunity for the after 5 p.m. crowd to go to happy hour with their customers, with their colleagues in these areas and in our oldest parts of the park," Koshut said.

Huntsville city councilors are drafting a new zoning category that will allow restaurants, bars and food trucks in the park.

"This would create the district. Then we'd have to rezone properties that'd come back before the city council," McGuffey said.

There's no timeline on how soon some of the new shops could open up. First, the city wants to hear from neighbors.

The public hearing on the new zoning proposal will happen at the May 24th city council meeting.