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Anniston-Oxford Developments


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#1 ElGobernador

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:15 PM

Chicago architects to design Anniston's new federal courthouse

By Matthew Korade
Star Senior Writer
02-02-2005


All their 140-plus years of architectural training had come down to this: Create a winning federal courthouse design within 24 hours or lose a potentially career-making commission.

This was no reality TV show, but the work of the General Services Administration, manager of the federal government’s 8,000 buildings, including its courthouses. Their program, “Design Excellence,” is a small-business program for architectural firms that lack the resources for larger projects.

In this case, a candidate pool of more than 50 firms from around the nation was winnowed to the five that participated in the early December competition to create a design for a new federal courthouse in Anniston.

The 20 architects, four to a team, crafted and cut, penciled and pasted. When the spray glue cleared from the walls of the Victoria Inn, one team was left standing: Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects of Atlanta.

But they didn’t ultimately win the job.

A selection panel of several architects experienced with GSA projects and James Sledge, presiding judge at the courthouse, overruled the jury of a few architects and architecture critics who decided the one-day competition.

The panel, which handed down its verdict only recently, took a wider set of criteria into account, including the chosen firm’s portfolio, work history and interviews with firm members.

After all those factors were accounted for, Studio Gang Architects of Chicago finished on top.

“Of the five finalists, any one of them could have designed a wonderful building for us,” Sledge said. “So we couldn’t lose. It was very, very exciting to see that kind of talent.”

Anniston’s current federal courthouse – a gleaming white gem of neoclassical design – has been outgrown by present-day needs, Sledge said. Over the last 12 years, he’s worked on getting an expanded presence. The new courthouse will need more than twice the space the current one provides for the judges, U.S. attorneys, probation officers and 3rd District congressman. The GSA determined starting fresh would be less costly than enlarging the current building.

Congress has appropriated the $26 million price tag, but a moratorium on new building projects could delay construction for two years.

“It’s a great project for us and for Anniston, and we’ve got an exciting team,” said Steven Sommer, the GSA’s project manager in Atlanta. “We just hope we can move forward with this project as soon as the moratorium is lifted.”

Because the domestic budget for such things has shrunk – a symptom of increased spending on security and defense – some in Washington believe it would be better to save money by consolidating federal courthouses, which might mean the courthouse never gets done, Sledge said.

“I think that’s an extremely unfortunate view,” Sledge said.

Anniston’s federal courthouse resolves cases for the northeast quadrant of Alabama and provides a great service to the people, he said. It allows them to have federal matters resolved here as opposed to having to go all the way into Atlanta.

“The history of this country has placed a very large importance on the federal courts,” he said. “And the people need to feel comfortable and familiar with that process in order for it to remain a part of our government.”

 

#2 ElGobernador

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Posted 02 February 2005 - 12:18 PM

I've known about Anniston's new federeal courthouse project for a while now, but what I didn't know was that it would cost $26 million! That has to be the single most expensive building in the city's history. And aside from a couple road projects, may end up being the most expensive project period.

I can't wait to see renderings of this thing. It will definitely help out my small hometown.

#3 ElGobernador

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 03:25 PM

Architects Are Selected
By a Federal 'Bake-Off'
By ALEX FRANGOS
Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal

From The Wall Street Journal Online


In the parlor of a quaint Victorian hotel in Anniston, Ala., teams from five small architecture firms listened anxiously to the competition rules. Each team had exactly 11 hours to design this depressed Southern city's first significant new building in decades -- a $25 million federal courthouse. Such a high-profile commission could put the winning firm on the map.

This "Survivor" for architects is part of a federal government program -- Design Excellence -- to improve the architecture of public buildings. It usually takes the General Services Administration, the federal government's landlord and developer, years to build a courthouse or other major buildings. Yet on a crisp December day, it picked an architect for such a project in the equivalent of a bureaucratic millisecond.

The GSA used the same frenzied, one-day bake-off for much larger courthouses in Nashville, Tenn.; Austin, Texas; and Toledo, Ohio.

The one-day competitions were created to help small firms, which can't spare big teams for several months to produce designs for typical architecture competitions. Whoever gets top nod from the jury, which judges the entries the day after the competition, usually gets to design the actual building.


Old courthouse is architectural gem but unsuitable for today's needs.

The competition rules are strict. "On your honor this is a paper-and-pencil competition only," Karen Bausman, a New York architect hired by the GSA to run the competition, says at the outset. While nearly all architects design on computers, the teams here are limited to colored pens and pencils, tracing paper and rulers.

"Old school!" shouts out Craig Hodgetts, one of the older architects in the room, in delight. Each team knows that Ms. Bausman will collect its entry -- drawn on four 40-inch-by-30 inch presentation boards -- at 6 p.m.

With the rules outlined, Ms. Bausman leads the 20 architects -- four on each team -- on a short walk to the building site, a single square block containing piles of gravel, a couple of aluminum sheds and a row of parked police cars.

Across one street is a city park shaded with giant oak trees. Across the other is a rundown and shuttered train depot.

The architectural squads -- three from the Los Angeles area, one from Chicago, and one from Atlanta, soak in the atmosphere. "It's time to turn on our antenna," says Mr. Hodgetts, principal of Hodgetts + Fung Design & Architecture, a Culver City, Calif., firm. The GSA picked the five firms for the final competition from a crop of dozens who submitted portfolios and relevant qualification documents.

Anniston, located two hours west of Atlanta, sits in the foothills of the Appalachians. It has suffered in recent decades as a major Army base closed, textile factories fled and industrial pollution was discovered in its water supply. Locals see the courthouse as a chance to reinvigorate the city.

The new courthouse will replace the current 1906 building, an elegant three-story marble-clad jewel box. Inside, conditions are unfit for working, says James Sledge, the presiding judge.

Back at the hotel, the architects sequester themselves in their rooms, which they have transformed into makeshift studios. Beds have been removed and replaced with drafting tables. Teams brought their own art lamps for better light. Aerial photos of the site, given to each team, are pinned to the walls.

The architects are stressed but invigorated by the pace of the work. "It's like getting fresh vegetables off the vine," Mr. Hodgetts says. "It's so rare for architects not to overmasticate ideas."

Most of the teams begin the day talking through concepts and doing rough sketches. Then they start to prepare their final presentations, though many still have kinks to work out in their ideas.


Architects in a one-day contest to get contract for a new courthouse in Anniston, Ala.

By midafternoon, the floors are covered with wads of crumpled yellow and white tracing paper. The air smells of Magic Markers, uneaten pasta salad and sweat. Asked how things are going, Merrill Elam of Atlanta's Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, replies: "I just need a little aspirin." Another team leader, Jeanne Gang of Chicago's Studio Gang Architects, retorts: "Ask us in two hours. We don't have time to think about it right now."

Two hours later, at 6 p.m., as the teams scramble to finish, Ms. Bausman collects the presentation boards. Mr. Hodgetts's crew has just glued its sketches to the boards. The smell of spray adhesive and the rush to completion seem to make him giddy.

"It's like sniffing glue in here," he says.

Each team's drawings show a modern-looking building, most of them with hints of classical courthouses. Many include street maps of the area, emphasizing how the new courthouse could enliven the neighboring blocks.

The next morning, a jury made up of two architectural writers and one practicing architect chose the winner -- Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects' boxlike vertical courthouse.

The winning scheme was "highly original, satisfied all the criteria of a good courthouse and a good architecture," said Joseph Giovannini, a juror and architectural critic. "It was iconic, dignified and original without being an afterimage of a classical temple."

Wolf Architecture, Malibu, Calif., came in second, followed by Hodgetts + Fung, Studio Gang and Predock_Frane Architects of Santa Monica, Calif.

But it's not the jury's decision to make alone. A separate evaluation board made up of Judge Sledge, GSA representatives from Washington and Atlanta, and an outside architectural adviser met later that day to make the official selection.

The evaluation board is meant to incorporate the jury's evaluation into a larger score card that also takes into account personal interviews with the architects and their overall portfolios.

But in this case, the board effectively ignored the jury's rankings, did its own evaluation of the competition boards and chose the winner, three members of the panel said later.

The new winner: Studio Gang, the team that came in fourth place with the jury. Two members describe the decision as unanimous, another as mostly unanimous.

Judge Sledge says being able to look at the competition boards "gave us a chance to compare the answers we got in the interview and the portfolio with what we saw on paper." Casey Jones, of the GSA's Washington office says design boards were a good "informal benchmark" in their evaluation.

Another member, Steven Davis, a partner at Davis Brody Bond in New York, said the panel discussed the boards "ad nauseam" before giving their own A through E rankings.

Marilyn Farley, who oversees the program for the GSA from Washington, but who wasn't in Anniston, says it's usually clear from the presentation boards who the architect should be. "In this one, it sounds like there was a difference of opinion," she says.

The selection wasn't made public until this past Monday -- and came as a surprise to the competition jurors, who were informed of it by a reporter.

"I find it puzzling that they called a jury of experts and then don't take our advice or don't follow the process," said Deborah K. Dietsch, a juror and architecture writer. "I'm rather dismayed because we picked an excellent firm with experience."

Speaking after finding out the jury's pick was overruled, Mr. Giovannini, the juror, called the jury's choice "clearly superior to the other contenders."

In dozens of other similar competitions the GSA has held, the jury's top pick has gotten the commission every time but one.

The competition aside, it's not clear if the courthouse will even be built. Congress appropriated more than $4 million to start the design and acquire the land. But the courts have yet to give the go-ahead. Ms. Gang says she was told to be prepared to wait two years for a contract.

Mack Scogin, who was chairman of Harvard's department of architecture in the early 1990s, is philosophical about losing the commission to Ms. Gang, a former student. "I couldn't be more proud," he says. "One more mark for me

#4 Southron

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 12:21 AM

[topics merged]

Let's discuss news, projects and construction in Anniston, Oxford and the Calhoun county area in northeast Alabama. What's developing around Anniston?

#5 Chris322

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Posted 23 April 2007 - 10:36 PM

A Lowe's is now under construction at the corner of Summerall Gate Road and McClellan Blvd. across from Anniston Middle School. Also, a mobile home park next door to Anniston Middle School and across from the future Lowe's has been sold to a major retailer, according to The Anniston Star, but the name has not been released. Rumors say that it will be a Sam's Club. Tractor Supply Co. is remodeling the former Food World on McClellan Blvd, and will be open soon. Publix has expressed interest in building a new store on the new Eastern Bypass in Golden Springs, but nothing is official. That is all I am aware of at this time.
--Chris

#6 Southron

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 10:39 AM

Thanks for the update, Chris.

How is the integration of the old Ft. McClellan reservation into the city coming along? The national guard got a lot of nice facilities from the closing, but how about the rest of the post? Are businesses locating there and people living in the former military housing?

#7 kayman

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Posted 24 April 2007 - 05:50 PM

Some of the old Fort McClellan property has been converted into civilian residential developments. Cane Creek, a townhouse/apartment/single-family housing development has been open for about 2 years now. There is also there is a church, First Baptist of McClellan, located in that area of Anniston. It is located near the old Ezell Gate, across from the Arby's, former Hardee's, and former Quincy's in Lenlock.

#8 eastcentralalabamateen

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Posted 16 August 2007 - 06:23 PM

I've heard about most of the Anniston-Oxford area developments especially the Oxford Exchange off of I-20's Exit 188 and around Fort McClellan.

It's been a really long time since I've been there and I forgot where are all of the places are at.

I'd really would like to know what's there in these areas:

1. the Quintard Mall area
2. Downtown Anniston and Downtown Oxford
3. around I-20-Exit 188 (including the Oxford Exchange and along Highway 78/431 and the Anniston Eastern Bypass)
4.
around Blue Mountain, Saks, and Lenlock
5. the Weaver, Jacksonville, Alexandria, Ohatchee, Coldwater, and Heflin areas

#9 kayman

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Posted 25 August 2007 - 08:14 PM

The Quintard Mall area hasn't really changed since its expansion in 2000, so there is really nothing to talk about.

Downtown Anniston has been able to somewhat make a comeback with the recent early-May 2-day festival held there, but nothing major has occur there either. The same can be said for the downtown area of Oxford.

The Golden Springs Road/Morgan Road/Leon Smith Parkway area seems to the area getting the most action. The Oxford Exchange power center is about to gain an Arby's and Dick's Sporting Goods. The center is already home to Target, Home Deport, Lane Bryant, AT&T Wireless, Petsmart, TJMaxx, Bed,Bath,&Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Hibbett Sports (the 2nd one in Oxford), Golden Rule restaurant, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Maggie Moo's ice cream parlor (the 1st in the state). There is already a Lowe's, Lone Star Steakhous, Cracker Barrel, Family Nissan (former Superior Nissan), (Sunny)King Ford & Toyota, and Zaxby's located around the I-20 and Golden Springs Road interchange. Also there has been talk of a Publix looking at the southeast corner of the intersection of Golden Springs and Henry Roads, but this only talk as the grocer has been seriously looking for a location in the area for nearly 2 years now.

The Lenlock area is also about to gain a Lowe's, the first for Anniston, and there has been serious talk of a Sam's Club being constructed on a large parcel just north of the Anniston Middle School on McClellan Boulevard.

The other areas haven't really seen anything major lately.

#10 rm8581

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Posted 29 October 2007 - 11:30 AM

I noticed last night a sign along Chocolocco Road near the intersection with Golden Springs Rd of notice for a rezoning meeting. I just read in the Anniston star that a Georgia developer is looking at that area for a potential shopping center anchored by Publix. I recently moved to Anniston from Birmingham and I can tell you that one of the things I dislike the most about this area is the lack of a quality grocery store. I was an avid Publix shopper in Birmingham and hope they are able to complete this deal, despite what apparently is a petition drive to stop this, according to the paper.

#11 eastcentralalabamateen

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 05:48 PM

The Quintard Mall area hasn't really changed since its expansion in 2000, so there is really nothing to talk about.

Downtown Anniston has been able to somewhat make a comeback with the recent early-May 2-day festival held there, but nothing major has occur there either. The same can be said for the downtown area of Oxford.

The Golden Springs Road/Morgan Road/Leon Smith Parkway area seems to the area getting the most action. The Oxford Exchange power center is about to gain an Arby's and Dick's Sporting Goods. The center is already home to Target, Home Deport, Lane Bryant, AT&T Wireless, Petsmart, TJMaxx, Bed,Bath,&Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Hibbett Sports (the 2nd one in Oxford), Golden Rule restaurant, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and Maggie Moo's ice cream parlor (the 1st in the state). There is already a Lowe's, Lone Star Steakhous, Cracker Barrel, Family Nissan (former Superior Nissan), (Sunny)King Ford & Toyota, and Zaxby's located around the I-20 and Golden Springs Road interchange. Also there has been talk of a Publix looking at the southeast corner of the intersection of Golden Springs and Henry Roads, but this only talk as the grocer has been seriously looking for a location in the area for nearly 2 years now.

The Lenlock area is also about to gain a Lowe's, the first for Anniston, and there has been serious talk of a Sam's Club being constructed on a large parcel just north of the Anniston Middle School on McClellan Boulevard.

The other areas haven't really seen anything major lately.


Who were the developers for the Oxford Exchange? Nobody has really put any updates on Wikipedia or anything else.

#12 kayman

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Posted 29 January 2008 - 04:03 PM

I'm not entirely sure who owns the Oxford Exchange, but I do know that word is that a Kohl's is to soon be added to the power center's anchor line-up.

#13 eastcentralalabamateen

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Posted 13 February 2008 - 09:29 PM

I'm not entirely sure who owns the Oxford Exchange, but I do know that word is that a Kohl's is to soon be added to the power center's anchor line-up.


I've seen the Kohl's today while going on the trip to the space center in Huntsville. From the picture that I took, I thought that I saw the power center's developer's sign in front of the new Kohl's and now I forgot.
By the way, does anybody know what's being built next to that road that connects to the eastern bypass and across the road from the site? (the sign mentioned a big-box tenant and more.) the site is near Sunny King Toyota

#14 Southron

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 09:18 AM

Anniston will be a stop on the Alabama Civil Rights Heritage Trail. In 1961 a mob beat Freedom Riders and torched their Greyhound bus there on Alabama Hwy 202.

Anniston to be stop on state civil rights trail

#15 Chris322

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Posted 17 June 2009 - 10:20 PM

The Quintard Mall is about to start another expansion project, but they have yet to announce any information on it. The city of Oxford is expected to help them complete the project. They have recently lost Goody's, KB Toys, and Friedman's Jewlers. The Foodmax store directly across Highway 21 from the mall closed in May. Perhaps a new Publix would work for the mall.

#16 Chris322

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Posted 18 June 2009 - 08:29 PM

If there are any supermarket developers reading this blog, please note that East Alabama is in desperate need of more supermarkets! Since Bruno's closed all stores in St. Clair, Talladega, and Calhoun Counties, we have very few options for groceries. Here is a listing of the major competitors that we have:


  • Walmart Supercenter
  • Winn-Dixie
  • Save-A-Lot
  • Food Outlet (Independent whose stores are run down and in poor areas)
  • Dorsey's (an Independent in Oxford that is similar to Food Outlet)
  • Piggly Wiggly


As you can see from the list, there are few real choices. Winn-Dixie is the last full service grocer, and they are loving it! They have no competition other than Walmart. Save-A-Lot, Food Outlet, and Dorsey's are old stores located in poor areas. Calhoun County has no Piggly Wiggly store. Bruno's operated 3 stores in Calhoun County until 2006. They closed Food World in 2006, and closed the Anniston Foodmax in 2007. The Oxford Foodmax closed in May 2009. Talladega's Food World closed in 2005. Sylacauga, Pell City, and Moody Food World stores closed in May 2009. This area could easily support a Publix, Kroger, Food Lion, Ingles, or any other grocer that would be willing to build a new store or reopen one of the six empty Bruno's stores. North Anniston has an abundance of land to be developed on and around the former Ft. McClellan.




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