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Hamlet (4/14)



  1. One rumored possibility for the old Gayfers/Dillard's building is Burlington Coat Factory. Honestly, I wonder if the best case scenario would be for a developer to buy not only McFarland Mall, but also the shopping center just up the hill with the defunct Winn-Dixie, and demolish the whole lot of it, with the possible exception of the stand-alone parcels Chili's and Books-a-Million. At this point, I'd expect McFarland Mall or the Winn-Dixie center either to have difficulty attracting anything but discount retailers, since that's mostly what they have now. However, if someone wiped the slate clean, perhaps they could "reinvent" that part of town as something nicer ?
  2. Latest rumor = Dillard's closing. This probably spells the end of McFarland Mall, which has been ailing for many years. Perhaps more interesting, though, is that this will leave the entire Birmingham-Tuscaloosa area without any Dillard's locations.
  3. Yeah, that kind of took a lot of people off guard. Their ad in the yellow pages: "To get a better piece of chicken, you'd have to be a rooster !" I imagine the new owner will want to keep some form of "Cotton Patch," since it has such strong name recognition in the area. Other bits from recent T-News articles : * Reworked "Riverwalk Place" development proposal (across from the library) could include a 9,000-square-foot Japanese steakhouse overlooking the river, next to the park pavilion. * UA still in negotiations with Bryce (Honestly, I expect this one to go through. The main sticking point right now appears to be finding an appropriate "New Bryce" location and funding. UA currently has over 650 acres, and the existing Bryce property would add over 200 acres to that. * UA postpones south end zone expansion of Bryant-Denny. This one surprised me, since they already did the studies. If the team does well this fall, though, and the national economy recovers, I expect this will heat back up. * "Retreat at Lake Tamaha" development could eventually fill a 275-acre section of forest between Nucor Steel and Holt (roughly between 25th Av E and the eastern bridge). The first phase would be apartments or condos geared toward UA students. The more interesting bit here is that there are hundreds and hundreds of undeveloped acres west of this site along Warner Pkwy (mostly owned by Westervelt, I think). * Work has begun on the new city fire station HQ (15th Street & Greensboro Avenue) , which frees up the old Fire Station #1 on 6th Street downtown to be sold. * City is in preliminary talks with YMCA and Focus (senior citizen activity center) about relocating their operations from prominent locations in the heart of downtown to a possible new facility that could be constructed by the city school board HQ in the less commercial part of downtown. * Planned budget of new Federal building downtown is $65 million (city hoping to get the remainder of the needed Federal funding within a year). * Other "scoops," some not yet reported by the media: * The proposed downtown riverfront amphitheater and relocated farmer's market would cost about $13 million, with Red Mountain Entertainment of Birmingham booking the acts. * According to the grapevine, the Army Corps of Engineers found a 24-acre site along the western bypass to eventually relocate their operations. This would free up several acres of prime riverfront land across from Queen City Park, immediately west of the planned Riverwalk Place development, and just east of the office complex under construction (Bank of Tuscaloosa, Hunt Oil, JMF accountants, and Rosen law firm). * Tuscaloosa County's population was 164,875 in 2000, and estimated at 177,906 in 2007. Hale declined from 18,276 in 2000 to 18,111 in 2007, and Greene declined from 9,946 in 2000 to 9,201 in 2007. So, the 2007 estimate puts the metro area at 205,218. http://www.azcentral.com/news/datacenter/c...104777413460675
  4. It's around Sixth Street and 23rd Avenue, I think. This photo might help : http://tuscaloosa.com/documentview.asp?DID=294 That's University Blvd running left-right at the bottom of the screen, and 6th street running parallel behind city hall. The city hall annex that's under construction is to the right of existing city hall, where it's just a surface parking lot in this photo. Both blocks of old businesses across 6th street have pretty much been demolished, as have two blocks just off the left of the photo (which will be the new Federal building plus a city park/plaza ). I think the deck's going roughly where the "Spiller" sign is in this photo.
  5. I've been in Texas more than Alabama the last couple months. Midtown is filling in pretty nicely: http://midtownvillagetuscaloosa.com/village_directory.html I think the "grand opening" is supposed to be around March. The Barnes & Noble and Panera Bread always have a crowd. Some of the other stores just moved from other shopping centers in town. The main positive of the development, though, is that it keeps the main retail focus close to the middle of town. The proposed North River Town Center project is dead. As proposed, it would've been a big-box-anchored, 100-acre development on the river. I live near this site (which is roughly between Rice Mine Road and the river, east of US82), and the original proposal seemed like a poor fit from the beginning. However, the local property owners still hope to find a developer for their land, which totals 162 acres along the river. Whatever eventually goes there will likely be one of the largest developments in the metro area. Hopefully, their revised plans will fit better with the river, area neighborhoods, and the environment. One residential development that seems to be doing well is the "new urbanist-inspired" Townes of North River (not related to the above-mentioned project with a similar name). Eventually, there will be a 20-acre "town village" section with retail, but so far, it's just houses: http://www.townesofnorthriver.com/location.php Overall, the local economy is hanging in there pretty well. The Hunt Oil expansion is a "go," and the $650-million project (40 jobs) should be complete in 2010. Southern Heat Exchange (subsidiary of a New Zealand company) also announced an expansion that will add 50 or so jobs. Mercedes is phasing out the R-class, but will add a hybrid M-class, so current employment level should stay the same. Downtown/Riverfront, construction is coming along nicely on a 4-story, 100,000sqft, $25-million complex that will include office space for a law firm, an accounting firm, and a bank. Although a lot of the planned upscale condo projects have been delayed or abandoned, a few condo projects are moving forward : http://www.thechimescondos.com/progress1.html Assorted local projects: http://www.amason-associates.com/news.html
  6. Also, according to the Tuscaloosa News (7/7/07), several proposed local projects have applied for GO Zone funding from the state, although probably not enough funding is available for all the proposals. The largest local proposals (by total amount, not just the fraction that would require GOZone) : * Hunt Oil refinery expansion, $400-500 million * North River Town Center, $128-million mixed-use riverfront development (Note : I live near this thing, and there is huge opposition from neighborhoods, so there might be significant changes in style or scope.) * Municipal projects, $50 million (parking deck, Hyatt Place hotel, convention center ) * Rice Mine Loop commercial development, $28 million (Cambria Suites, Staybridge Suites, stand-alone restaurants) * Townes of North River office buildings (24,000 sqft of space, developer asked for $4 million in GO Zone financing, but cost of the total project hasn't been announced)
  7. Given the moribund state of the condo market down there, I wonder whether that "St. Andrews Resort" will actually happen, even with the zoning approval ? In general, I'd like to see the Ft. Morgan peninsula area mostly preserved. Even if one puts aside valid environmental and aesthetic concerns, there's simply no way to build adequate infrastructure to handle major development out there. There's basically one east-west road, and that's all there really can be. The one area of Gulf Shores-Orange Beach where I would like to see more development/redevelopment is at the "T" in Gulf Shores. Before the hurricanes, there were grand plans to create a walkable, mixed-use "downtown" there. Buildings were demolished to make way for the planned projects. Then, when the market went sour, the new stuff never got built. Getting that area rolling should be the city's top priority, and Ft. Morgan should be left alone.
  8. The one closest to the hospital is http://www.crimsonplace.com/fw/main/Home-36.html The university has also started a "Crimson Choice" program of university-related rental properties: http://crimsonchoice.ua.edu/pages/properties.html
  9. The IP is easily one of the most improved properties on the Mississippi coast. I couldn't believe how nice their Brazilian steakhouse was a couple of days ago. It impressed me as much as any of the restaurants I've been to in Las Vegas.
  10. That's cool. I'm staying at the Palace next week. The rooms there are extremely nice for the price.
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