HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- WHNT News 19 has learned more about a big development coming to downtown Huntsville at the old Holiday Inn property. Dirt is finally being moved, as construction crews begin their work on the site.
We already knew City Centre, a development at Williams Avenue in Huntsville across from Big Spring Park, was getting an AC Hotel by Mariott. Now, we have more information about the designs.
At Thursday's Huntsville City Council meeting, Director of Urban Development Shane Davis presented a look at the designs. You can see them in the gallery below.
The construction is expected to start in September of 2016, and the first phase of the project includes the AC Mariott, parking deck, and a food hall. The other phases include multi-family homes, another hotel (a Residence Inn by Mariott), greenways and retail. The whole complex is expected to bring in 350 jobs to Huntsville. The food hall is Davis's favorite part.
"It's going to be really, really cool," he promised. "It will be the first one in Alabama."
But, what is it?
"It's a new concept that's emerging across the US," he said. "Think of sit-down dining in a fast-casual, almost food court type scenario."
You'll find some photos of the possible design inside the food hall in Davis's full presentation.
Davis said having more hotels is a good thing for the Rocket City. He said the city leaders know they need about 1,000 more rooms for Huntsville to be competitive in recruiting major conferences to host. He said the ones in City Centre will bring them up to around 700, and other future developments could further increase the amount of rooms available near downtown.
"We routinely hear from business travelers Monday through Thursday, if they don't book a room two weeks in advance they say it's hard for them to get a room on one or two days' notice and find a hotel in Huntsville," he explained.
The whole City Centre project, to be completed in phases, is expected to be finished in 2018.