HUNTSVILLE, Al. (WHNT) - During a Huntsville zoning committee meeting Wednesday morning, Raymond Jones Jr. unveiled drawings of a planned 400,000-square-foot shopping center at the northwest corner of Carl T. Jones Drive and Ledges Drive.
Jones, who is developing the 126-acre property with relatives from the Lowe and Blue families, said the still-unnamed retail project would be "more high-end" than the Valley Bend at Jones Farm shopping center directly across the street.
While Valley Bend boasts some of Huntsville's most successful big-box stores, Jones said the trend nationally is for smaller retail spaces. A drawing given to the zoning committee shows 19 retail parcels laid out in an arc between Ledges Drive and Aldridge Creek. The smallest space is 6,000 square feet, the largest 104,000 square feet.
"Retail is shrinking," said Jones, "and so the size of those boxes will shrink considerably. But we do envision it as a development with restaurants and higher end retail shops."
The developers are asking the city to rezone the property from multi-family residential with a small amount of neighborhood retail to highway business C-4, which allows a wider range of retail and specialty uses.
"There's 126 acres proposed in this development, but there's a whole lot more land for development there than just the 126 acres."
Prior to unveiling his plan, Jones commissioned a drainage study and an independent traffic study which he says found Carl T. Jones is more than adequate to service the development.
But some neighbors in the Ledges Community are concerned traffic congestion could become a problem in the area with the addition of more traffic using Ledges Drive.
"We are going to be working closely with the developers, a few of our (HOA board) members will be on the committee with the developers to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and there aren't any surprises," HOA President Gary Smith says.
Developers say they will continue working with neighbors to make sure the final plan works for everyone involved.
"We've met with the land owners with the Ledges Homeowners' Association and they have some concerns about ingress and egress to the Ledges development. But they have agreed and are supportive of this rezoning process."
Steve Doyle with our news partners at Al.com reports the family is working with the architectural firm that designed The Summit in Birmingham and Turkey Creek, an upscale commercial development in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Jones said an "ambitious" timeline would have the first stores opening in 2015.
The Huntsville Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the rezoning request at its Dec. 17 meeting, which starts at 5 p.m. on the ground floor of City Hall, 308 Fountain Circle.
Al.com reporter Steve Doyle contributed to this report.