Chamber of Commerce issues Request for Proposals to update Research Park master plan

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- Cummings Research Park is hailed as one of the world's leading science and technology business parks. But leaders say it's time to give it an upgrade.

They're working to improve cultural factors like its marketing, collaborative engagement, and feel as well as its physical factors, like zoning, land-use, and connectivity.

"The dynamics of the market have changed, so the question is, 'How do you maintain the integrity of what's there... the uniqueness of what's there, but also refresh it to allow it the flexibility to be able to respond to today's market?'" asked Chip Cherry, President and CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce.

The group exploring the answers to that consists of City of Huntsville, Research Park's Board of Directors, Chamber leaders, and Huntsville Industrial Development Board members.   This weekend, the Chamber issued a request for proposals calling for ideas from people who can help them with that mission.

The RFP asks for analysis of the parks' current zoning, land-use, live ability, availability of recreational activities, and connections to surrounding areas like UAH, Redstone Arsenal, and the University Drive area.

"All of that stuff just needs to have an objective, fresh look about how everything fits together," said Cherry. "The thought being that we would be better off to hear what [parties'] ideas are, and then we can make a determination of what that looks like going forward."

Cherry said there are no preconceived notions of what will work. Right now, he said it's all about being open to new ideas from community members, and interested entities across the nation who want to help revitalize the park, bring more people to it, and encourage its current tenants to say.

"We obviously want to make sure it continues as an economic engine for the next 50 years," said Cherry.

The Chamber has set a due date for the proposals at June 1, 2015. They're looking to select a firm or team from those they received by June 12th.

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