Huntsville leaders eye more hotel rooms downtown

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - The expansion of the Von Braun Center continues as the new music hall and outdoor bar is expected to be finished this winter.

"We're making up for lost ground in the downtown corridor," Huntsville director of planning and urban development Shane Davis said.

With the new attractions -- hotel rooms downtown are at a premium. A proposal from the group Southaven Associates was approved to build a Hyatt House hotel on what's now a parking lot at Jefferson and Holmes. The hotel would be nine stories high, include 145 rooms and a rooftop bar. It would also rent out 205 parking spaces from the soon-to-be built Greene Street parking deck.

"You're losing 205 parking spaces in a parking garage that hasn't even built yet," Huntsville city council member Jennie Robinson said.

"I've got 10 employees. And I'm not the only one in that parking lot. Where are we going to go in the interim?" Robert Seaman said.

Now that the AC Marriott is finished, developers at City Centre are focusing on plans next door. They're offering $1 million to buy the lot on Monroe Street to tear down the James Williams aquatic center and build another future hotel. Councilors tabled that vote.

Two more hotel projects are planned, but building has yet to begin on the Curio boutique hotel on Jefferson Street and Marriott'S 'Autograph hotel which is expected to have 187 rooms at the parking garage across the street from the VBC.

"With all four of those projects going, you're going to make a significant dent for what's needed downtown," mayor Tommy Battle said.

City leaders say the magic number is 1,000 available hotel rooms in the downtown district which would qualify the VBC to lure larger conventions and events.

The new Hyatt hotel is expected to be finished by 2021.

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