HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - The Whole Foods development on South Memorial Parkway has opened up the flood gates for change in the area. One former strip mall just across the Parkway is nearing the end of a major metamorphosis; demolition. But that will, of course, only be the beginning.
All that's left of the half-a-century old Parkway plaza, formerly home to Pearly Gates and Mock electronics, is a pile of rubble.When Mock owner Barbara Compton retired in 2013, The Deep Comics Shop moved into the vacated spot. With the rest of the structure literally ripped from The Deep's new facade, they are all alone on an island of sorts -- for now.
"We had some good neighbors before and they've all moved on somewhere else now," says The Deep owner Edward Walls. "So, we're just excited about somebody getting in there that's gonna bring more to the area."
City officials will tell you, that's inevitable. While they don't know quite yet who will emerge as top contenders -- whether residential, commercial or even institutional -- the high-traffic corridor will certainly garner some competition.
The city's urban planner says they'll entertain all good offers. But what's most likely and favorable is the popular and lucrative mixed-use development model.
With a prospect that broad, though, there's really no limit to what we may see come to fruition. The spot has seen businesses live out their life cycles and retire. Despite challenges like costly, mandatory flood plain insurance that could land future tenants in over their heads in a hurry, Edward Walls says he plans to stick it out for the long haul, too.
"Oh yeah, we plan on this being our permanent location. Mock electronics and Barbara Compton, she said this building served them for 55 years and we hope it serves our family for 55 years -- but this time, we'll be the draw," Walls laughed.
The Deep is the largest comics shop in north Alabama and one of the 50 largest in America.
City planners say they feel the high-traffic area, even farther north and south of the future Whole Foods site, is extremely ripe for re-development. The now-demolished plaza is especially desirable because of its proximity to Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment.