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Opinions Wanted: What to do with Huntsville’s greyfields?

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Even if you've never heard the term "greyfield," you'd recognize one if you saw it.

The name comes from the expanse of grey concrete surrounding vacant strip centers and shopping malls. Once viable and busy, these developments are now nearly economically useless to the communities they inhabit. Unfortunately, they are common sights across the U.S. and Huntsville is no exception.

As the city looks to the future and moves ahead with its master planning process, planning managers want to know what residents would like to see replace these greyfields. All ideas are welcome at Tuesday's Citizens Academy. The event on September 16th is free and open to the public. It's scheduled for 6-8 p.m. at Lee High School.

Urban and Long-Range Planning Director Dennis Madsen says residents will be given an overview of the issue and asked to identify greyfields in their own communities. Three are already on the city's radar - Haysland Square in South Huntsville, Builders Square on North Memorial Parkway and Madison Square Mall.

A second session related to economic development will follow on Thursday, September 18th. That event will take place at Challenger Middle School. It will focus on changing demographics and design guidelines.

Anyone who is unable to attend the academies is urged to visit the planning website, Big Picture Huntsville. Videos from the sessions will be posted to the site following the events. As part of the planning process, residents may also contribute ideas through the Imagine Huntsville site.


  • Nuclear Mike

    With the internal politics of the City Government & Mayor that ONLY favor the “Big Box Stores” and when the few Mom & Pop start-ups are favored by Downtown. Inc., then Huntsville can expect the “gray-fields” to remain for a very long time as the local retail economy continues to decline…and Forbes places Huntsville’s Job Growth (2013) at 1.5% and with the deposable spending income declining, the 3% numbers quoted by the Mayor are just hype as is the reality of addressing the “gray-fields” in the next decade.

    • Say What

      Mike, if it was not for big government spending from Washington, D.C. our growth rate would not even less! Huntsville is a one company town — the federal government!

      • Nuclear Mike

        You are correct…Huntsville is just a GoCoTo…a GOvernmentalCOmpanyTOwn…and that is all…no war, no space…NO Huntsville…

  • Say What

    Greyfields are the natural occurrence of capitalism. As local governments give away tax money to “developers” they encourage these greyfields as new “developers” are given more tax money. Today’s new development will be tomorrow’s greyfield, One displaces the other in the never ending quest for profits. The elites are laughing all the way to the bank while the regular people foot the bill with their taxes. Yes, sometimes this creates jobs, but the businesses seldom pay their share of taxes (often tax relief is a part of their “incentive”and “economic development” packages) while the people that work at those jobs pay their taxes without any relief! When you hear a politician say they are working to make Alabama a “business friendly” state — they are saying they will do more to create more greyfields. Business friendly always means worker unfriendly!

    • Branko Pezdi

      People such as yourself really need to spend a decade or so in a big government Communist country. Heck, go to Russia now to witness the remaining ravages of nearly a century of your favorite economic system. The environmental pollution is a fringe benefit. Lenin described you best with his “useful id—” comment.

  • Country Boy 4

    Might as well build more “no-income” housing since these once busy areas are now infested with many deadbeats and criminals. I’m surprised the Huntsville Housing Authority hasn’t put a bid on some of them yet.

  • Jon Dowe

    This has nothing to do with capitalism per se, nor local government tax incentives. In fact, that is an artifact of a way of thinking in the US that has been around for a long, long time. An earlier version of this was downtown blight – both of business districts and neighborhoods. That is because as a society many families and businesses have tended to move to new, bigger houses and places of business rather than remain in place and upgrade or refurbish the existing home or business structure. There are many causes for this, one being that the cost of building a new structure is often less than refurbishing the old (which is also reinforced by government regulation and policy). I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea…

    • Say What

      Bigger houses, newer buildings, places of business, costs of building. Yes, like I said — capitalism! Hopefully you now get the idea. . . .

  • Constitutionalism

    So we need to go back to the stone age with no capitalism….It’s the lack of capitalism that’s the problem. This country has thrived off of capitalism since its beginning but the last 10 years or so, socialists (both republicans and democrats) are degrading capitalism. Which is why more and more companies are going to other countries.

  • Constitutionalism

    ITS TOO MANY!!! Why would we want any company moving overseas? You want the total percentage of businesses moving overseas…any company moving overseas is NOT good, doesn’t matter what the percent is. Wake up and see what government intrusion is doing to this country.

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