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Old 01-16-2008, 01:33 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,002,142 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleC View Post
I don't see $200k as affordable housing for the young singles that are even likely to consider moving downtown. Few single people under 40-ish can afford that kind of house payment.

And million dollar penthouse condos? Forget it. I want some of what those developers are smoking. You can't sell the penthouses until you have a thriving district people are willing to pay a premium to live in, and you won't get that until you have local residents. Bring on the artists and the hip 20-somethings first, then you get the ball rolling.
I don't see developers jumping on board to build a new building for $100k condos. There aren't really any large buildings that are ripe for renovation (except perhaps the HHA building near Meridian and Monroe) that could serve that purpose and make it cost effective. So a new building would have to be built, then you are talking $$$.

I think there are more singles and young couples that could afford $200k than you think. It is not uncommon for a young engineer (even without a graduate degree) to easily make $70k+. Then when you consider young couples without kids, it opens up a lot more people.

I don't think downtown will be the bohemian crowd. I think it could be a young professional hotspot though. I think Merrimack and Lowe Mill villages on the edges of downtown are the areas that could become the hip artist enclaves. And the city is actively pushing that as well.
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Old 01-16-2008, 01:41 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,002,142 times
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Originally Posted by FlourChild View Post
I remember downtown HSV having a problem with both safety and affordable parking. Big Springs Park was "home" to many homeless, most of whom were harmless but at least one of whom kicked a dog to death in front of its owner a couple of years ago. Downtown is also pretty close to several housing projects, which (according to local law-enforcement types I knew there) were, relatively speaking, hotbeds of criminal activity in the area. We're hardly talking Cabrini Green here, but it was enough to discourage a lot of people from coming downtown at night.
I've never felt unsafe downtown at all. The good news is the projects near the hospital and the ones on the northwest side of downtown and supposed to be torn down sometime in the next few years. An office complex has been proposed for the land on the northwest side of downtown. Huntsville Hospital will grab a good portion of the land behind the hospital. Hopefully the remainder will be used for some downtown housing.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:00 PM
 
30 posts, read 81,232 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnc76 View Post
I don't see developers jumping on board to build a new building for $100k condos. There aren't really any large buildings that are ripe for renovation (except perhaps the HHA building near Meridian and Monroe) that could serve that purpose and make it cost effective. So a new building would have to be built, then you are talking $$$.

I think there are more singles and young couples that could afford $200k than you think. It is not uncommon for a young engineer (even without a graduate degree) to easily make $70k+. Then when you consider young couples without kids, it opens up a lot more people.

I don't think downtown will be the bohemian crowd. I think it could be a young professional hotspot though. I think Merrimack and Lowe Mill villages on the edges of downtown are the areas that could become the hip artist enclaves. And the city is actively pushing that as well.
Agreed on both fronts. I am a 25 year old soon to be married engineer and I would have jumped on a 200k condo downtown. Instead I bought a nice home in Blossomwood in order to be as close to downtown as possible(couldn't afford Twickemham or Old Town obviously, and every house I looked at in 5 points was a dump).

Merrimack and Lowe are both definitelly on the track to be the hip artist enclaves, kind of like 5 points and Dallas areas are now. I think Lincoln is headed in that direction too. The Lincoln Mill condos are going to be around this pricepoint correct? Obviously, this transition has a long way to go. If not for school and safety concerns, I would have considered it when I bought my house. All 3 areas are going to have to get rid of their respective projects until this can be realized.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:21 PM
 
Location: ATL
286 posts, read 956,064 times
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OMG, are you ppl even from Huntsville? Think about it, and you will figure out that ppl in Huntsville (majority) don't care about a thriving downtown. Even if lofts were built, why would someone pay $150K when they can get a nice subdivision for that or a little more?

Also, demographically, downtown nightlife is not high on most people's lists, which is why there has never been a real downtown area for Huntsville. It's not NY, or ATL or Chicago, and I don't think ppl really want it to be like that. The only reason the city is trying to do something about it is because YOUNG people for the most part don't want to move here because the lack of some of these things. However, take a survey, and you will find people in Huntsville to be living simply. The city is trying to change a culture, and I applaud them since it's going to be a huge effort with high risk of failure.

Also, when you have kids or are contemplating kids, unless you're going to send them to private school, you're not going to move downtown.

Last edited by financelife; 01-16-2008 at 02:25 PM.. Reason: more info
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:41 PM
 
Location: Madison, AL
410 posts, read 1,495,602 times
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FL, not everyone wants to live in a tacky suburb in a tract home. Not just young folks, but older folks as well want to get closer into the conveniences and hospitals and don't want to try to perform upkeep and lawn maintenance on a house.

We see that time and time again here on this forum; the problem is that's pretty much your only option in HSV unless you gave enough bucks to live in one of the high priced urban neighborhoods. A nice home in Five Points or Blossomwood costs a lot for a reason, and it's not because the people that lived there couldn't find a house in a suburb.

No, the suburbs won't empty out if there are affordable and safe homes downtown. But you will have a whole new option that a lot of people will find attractive.

RNC76 - I agree about newer buildings costing too much, in theory, although certainly the city could spread some of those redevelopment dollars around to residential housing, too, if they really wanted to push it. I was thinking more of renovating existing space above the ground floor retail -- lofts.

When you can get a little hub of buildings with retail on the ground floor, sometimes office space on the second floor and then residential above, you start to get that all-day-long vibe. A few night spots downtown can't do it alone.

I referred to bringing in artists, because making a neighborhood an artsy enclave almost inevitably brings in wanna-bes and hipsters following them, then subsequently drives up real estate prices. Until the artists can't afford it anymore and they move on... leaving prime real estate in their wake. It would be a longer term proposition, but it means you can initially rent out or sell less then perfect spaces to artists at affordable rates, then as property values rise the owners will fix up the buildings for you. No need for a developer to spend a millions on a huge renovation and wonder when they will get their money back.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Madison, AL
410 posts, read 1,495,602 times
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P.S. Great topic!
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:08 PM
 
30 posts, read 81,232 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by financelife View Post
OMG, are you ppl even from Huntsville? Think about it, and you will figure out that ppl in Huntsville (majority) don't care about a thriving downtown. Even if lofts were built, why would someone pay $150K when they can get a nice subdivision for that or a little more?

Also, demographically, downtown nightlife is not high on most people's lists, which is why there has never been a real downtown area for Huntsville. It's not NY, or ATL or Chicago, and I don't think ppl really want it to be like that. The only reason the city is trying to do something about it is because YOUNG people for the most part don't want to move here because the lack of some of these things. However, take a survey, and you will find people in Huntsville to be living simply. The city is trying to change a culture, and I applaud them since it's going to be a huge effort with high risk of failure.

Also, when you have kids or are contemplating kids, unless you're going to send them to private school, you're not going to move downtown.

I hate this mindset. A healthy downtown is not only a nightlife. A city's image is it's downtown. And this is what young people are drawn too. We don't care what box stores, strip malls, chain restaurants, and suburban office complexes a city has. That **** is the same everywhere. Lets say you are visiting New Orleans. What do you do? I hope you don't head to the nearest Applebees and maybe check out the local Walmart.

I'd love to see downtown return to be the shopping, dining, and entertainment mecca of the region like it once was. I've had tons of friends come visit me from out of town. Do I take them to the nearest Ruby Tuesdays? Do I go show them the newest school out in the middle of the burbs and brag about how high it's scores are? I take them to places uniquely Huntsville. Someplace like Soul Burger, Bandito Burrito, the Flying Monkey, Old Town Coffee Shop, Kaffeklatch, etc. The kind of places people remember. Huntsville does have unique places that cater to young people. Well then what's the problem? These places are scattered all over the metro area. Not easily found by a newcomer or visitor. So lets say a person visits, maybe he has a job offer he is considering. What's is he going to see? Strip malls? Walmart? A shell of a once thriving downtown? Doesn't sound very appealing to me.

You mention that the people of Huntsville don't care. First of all I think you're wrong. Every single one of my friends and coworkers would love to be able to head downtown and just make a day of it. Like NicoleC said, there's a good reason that the older urban neighborhoods cost so much and she's right. Huntsville residents want to live there. Me and all of my neighbors could have afforded much larger houses and huge plots of land out in the boonies. But did we?

What does a thriving downtown need? Food, entertainment, and shopping. What do you need downtown to support these things? People. For these 3 things to survive you need people to support them, and no not just on the weekend. I understand that people unfortunate enough to live out in the boonies in some bland suburb can't make the trip downtown all the time. Huntsville is definitely not a tourist town either, so that's out. So what you need people in and around downtown all day every day to support the businesses. It's a catch 22. The businesses need people, the people need businesses. One has to come first. Luckily, there are people like me that would love the chance to live downtown, and will choose to support downtown businesses whenever I can.
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:07 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,002,142 times
Reputation: 1414
Quote:
Originally Posted by financelife View Post
OMG, are you ppl even from Huntsville? Think about it, and you will figure out that ppl in Huntsville (majority) don't care about a thriving downtown. Even if lofts were built, why would someone pay $150K when they can get a nice subdivision for that or a little more?

Also, demographically, downtown nightlife is not high on most people's lists, which is why there has never been a real downtown area for Huntsville. It's not NY, or ATL or Chicago, and I don't think ppl really want it to be like that. The only reason the city is trying to do something about it is because YOUNG people for the most part don't want to move here because the lack of some of these things. However, take a survey, and you will find people in Huntsville to be living simply. The city is trying to change a culture, and I applaud them since it's going to be a huge effort with high risk of failure.

Also, when you have kids or are contemplating kids, unless you're going to send them to private school, you're not going to move downtown.
Do you honestly think we are expecting Huntsville to be NY, Atl or Chicago??? I'm not talking about trying to lure the majority of people downtown to live. I realize Huntsville is and always will be a suburban, family oriented city and that is fine. That has it's pluses and minuses. But if they/we could make downtown an area that young people want to live in or be close to, then the neighborhoods around it are revitalized and become desirable and downtown becomes a fun place to hang out. Even if a small percentage of the 20-35 year olds in this city lived downtown, it would be a completely different city. But as it is basically nobody lives downtown.

While we are throwing out ideas... I have had this idea for a while. A couple other cities I lived in had apartment complexes off campus that ran shuttles to campus regularly. Do you think an idea like this would work for some of the lesser used land on the north/northwest sides of downtown? I'm particularly thinking of the land that will be vacant once the projects are demolished off of Monroe near the Depot.
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Old 01-16-2008, 08:16 PM
 
2,063 posts, read 6,002,142 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleC View Post
RNC76 - I agree about newer buildings costing too much, in theory, although certainly the city could spread some of those redevelopment dollars around to residential housing, too, if they really wanted to push it. I was thinking more of renovating existing space above the ground floor retail -- lofts.
I agree with the idea, but the only problem is that most of the buildings downtown are only 2-3 stories tall, not leaving much space for residences. On a side note, I personally can't understand why it is so cost prohibitive to build downtown. In order for the price to be so high, there has to be high demand. I have literally seen some buildings sit with "For Lease" signs in there windows for 2 years. Also, if you look at Google Maps, there are a lot of surface parking lots in the downtown area. If land was so expensive, it would seem that people would build on those empty spaces. I have yet to figure this out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NicoleC View Post
P.S. Great topic!
Thanks. I get frustrated because I hear all the time young people say that "I wish there was more to do downtown." I always reply, "Well then support the nice businesses that we have and quit going to Chilis!"
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:43 PM
 
Location: Rocket City, U.S.A.
1,806 posts, read 5,094,895 times
Reputation: 853
As someone who is just three months shy of 41, I'm not exactly young...but I have traveled abroad enough to see what works and what doesn't...I would not for a second recommend that anyone focus solely on the appeal of a younger crowd, because by mis-direction that tragically becomes a collection of fly-by-night bars and retail-related businesses that will not attract anyone (mentally) older than 21. Uhm...don't need a Hot Topic to make it "cool".

Theatre, art studios, retail boutiques, bistros and pubs...can still keep the 'family friendly small town feeling' without being dead boring or attracting crime.

I didn't move here because I wanted it to be Chitown or NYC...I love the fact that it ISN'T. I'm in no way suggesting that where I came from had it better - YUCK -after running fast and hard, I am offering that I saw first-hand how marketing to one particular group instead of an array killed several revisionist ideas when executed.

And remember, those who are liberated from the projects will have to find housing elsewhere...where will that be?

The parking - may be adequate now, but if an effort is put in to revamp and revitalize, that may change...and that's why I brought that up.

As a new resident, I mention what I noticed missing.

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