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Sherlock

Huntsville skyscrapers

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In the Q&A column of the Huntsville Times this morning (June 6, 2007), someone asked if there was a height restriction on buildings in downtown Huntsville. The answer, complete with a citation of the ordinance, said there was indeed ... and it's 10 stories! A softer, more traditional limit is that a building cannot exceed the height of the Times Building, Huntsville's first "tall" building.

Seems kinda silly to me to limit height in such a manner. If the ordinance stands, Huntsville will never have the skyline of a true city ... and we're rapidlly becoming rather large and it looks like growth will continue.

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Well, I think that the cities going to need to actually hear of people wanted to build a real tower higher than 10 stories before it gets close to being considered to be changed. Maybe Huntsville'll turn into Phili. Hopefully it won't be another DC.

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Is there a height limit in feet, or is it just the number of floors? How tall is the Times building?

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There is some truth to the article about a height limit in some places. The Am South Center is 12 storeys including the penthouse 11 without and it stands 170 feet tall. That's over 150 feet and over 10 storeys tall. The Russell Erskine building is 155 excluding the penthouse and it's 12 storeys tall. The old Times building is 125 feet tall and it is 12 storeys tall although the elevator only goes to 11 cause when it was built there was a battle to have the tallest in Huntsville and a floor was later added but wasn't in the original plan. Although all the newer buiildings in downtown are under 150 feet tall. Embassy Suite 140 feet tall and 10 storeys, the Summit is 7-8 just depends on who you ask but it's 128 feet tall. So don't freak out yet I'm sure if a builder comes along and wants a 20 storey building it can be built with special variances. Lets not forget the Holmes condo tower at 21 storeys that Randy Schrimsher wants to build. The project hasn't moved forward yet cause of the need of a parking garage with the tower. And last but not least it's not a actual office building but that bell tower at I think it's Frist Baptist church off Governors adjacent to downtown is 229 feet tall.

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Well, I think that the cities going to need to actually hear of people wanted to build a real tower higher than 10 stories before it gets close to being considered to be changed. Maybe Huntsville'll turn into Phili. Hopefully it won't be another DC.

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Being like DC is not as bad as some might think. I've been there, it is density makes up ten-fold for its lack of height. Honestly, Huntsville should seriously work on its infill as it is currently doing and continue before you guys wind up like Tulsa. If know what I'm talking about with Tulsa, then you'll realize that the place has major tall buildings but an almost nonexistent and very sterile downtown. Like Huntsville continue to revive itself on the street-level along with increasing the occupancy of its existing buildings and then the towers will come.

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Also it is just in a certain area not (mainly the central core around the courthouse) the entire downtown.

These are really guidlines(Downtown Master Plan which is revised from time to time) and can be changed as the second part of the limit was being changed to a higher limit (50')

these areas next to residential (Twickenham., Old Town etc). I did think most of the reasoning was a bit shaky, it probably came from a consultants recommendation report years ago.

Unless someone tears something down there isn't much room in the CBD to build. The Medical District, and the Constellation area may be

or should be out of this area in regard to height.

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Also it is just in a certain area not (mainly the central core around the courthouse) the entire downtown.

These are really guidlines(Downtown Master Plan which is revised from time to time) and can be changed as the second part of the limit was being changed to a higher limit (50')

these areas next to residential (Twickenham., Old Town etc). I did think most of the reasoning was a bit shaky, it probably came from a consultants recommendation report years ago.

Unless someone tears something down there isn't much room in the CBD to build. The Medical District, and the Constellation area may be

or should be out of this area in regard to height.

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I don't want to see them tear old buildings down. They really add character to any city, and should be preserved.

One available space would be the old dairy on Clinton; and I heard talk at one time about a 20+ story condo in the Heritage Club parking lot (Holmes and Jefferson). Plus, at some point, they're going to get a new federal building.

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true. I wasn't suggesting anything being torn down, the old dairy site is now VBC parking. There are available sites along Clinton

which should be out of the short zone. The block due north of Amsouth is crying for something, other than the Railroad Station Antique buliding and the church it is horrible. The Federal Building site is the old Mental Health building site, but who knows when that will happen, many cities across the nation are waiting on this, in Alabama, Anniston and Mobile are ahead of us in the pecking order I think. The Medical District along with

the Councill Court redevelopment should see some high rise development in the coming years.

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A quick look at Google Earth shows that there is quite a bit of open space in downtown Huntsville. There are lots of surface parking lots that need to go to increase the density downtown. Eventually, I hope they implode the courthouse, build a new one elsewhere downtown and put Huntsville's tallest building on that spot. Ahhh, to dream.

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I doubt there'll ever be anything other than the Court House in that location. After all, it is "The Square", which is where the court house is supposed to be. :) I don't think the present court house is all that bad anyway.

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Just something I've picked up on. It seems like whenever the courthouse gets mentioned people are quick to suggest leveling it and building it elsewhere... I know this building is not the best looking tall building down there but would we really be happy leveling it and risk having something smaller to what's already there? I would like to see it renovated to look much better... If I remember correctly the inmates that are housed on the upper floors will be moved to the metro jail so there's a possibility that renovations could be in that buildings future... I hope that they contract the same people that did the old SCI building when they do...

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Just something I've picked up on. It seems like whenever the courthouse gets mentioned people are quick to suggest leveling it and building it elsewhere... I know this building is not the best looking tall building down there but would we really be happy leveling it and risk having something smaller to what's already there? I would like to see it renovated to look much better... If I remember correctly the inmates that are housed on the upper floors will be moved to the metro jail so there's a possibility that renovations could be in that buildings future... I hope that they contract the same people that did the old SCI building when they do...

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Just something I've picked up on. It seems like whenever the courthouse gets mentioned people are quick to suggest leveling it and building it elsewhere... I know this building is not the best looking tall building down there but would we really be happy leveling it and risk having something smaller to what's already there? I would like to see it renovated to look much better... If I remember correctly the inmates that are housed on the upper floors will be moved to the metro jail so there's a possibility that renovations could be in that buildings future... I hope that they contract the same people that did the old SCI building when they do...

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this overly restrictive limit is being reveiwed , because it is hampering potential projects, Constellation

for one. Expect changes in this height limit, maybe case by case issue.

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it was discussed at a meeting about height limitations adjacent to historic residential areas

which this would not be.

Developer Randy Schrimsher agreed that downtown residents shouldn't have imposing buildings looming over their neighborhoods. The city, however, should rethink setting a 10-story cap. Schrimsher told the council that he's been planning a 15-story building (mostly residential) atop a six-story garage at Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue. He said he'd like to go higher if the downtown living trend picks up in Huntsville as predicted.

Schrimsher noted that there are only a few available sites in the downtown C-3 business zones that would be subject to the height limits.

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it was discussed at a meeting about height limitations adjacent to historic residential areas

which this would not be.

Developer Randy Schrimsher agreed that downtown residents shouldn't have imposing buildings looming over their neighborhoods. The city, however, should rethink setting a 10-story cap. Schrimsher told the council that he's been planning a 15-story building (mostly residential) atop a six-story garage at Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue. He said he'd like to go higher if the downtown living trend picks up in Huntsville as predicted.

Schrimsher noted that there are only a few available sites in the downtown C-3 business zones that would be subject to the height limits.

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Wow, that came out of the blue... I thought that project was dead years ago.

About the height limits- Huntsville has a unique problem in that our historic neighborhoods are adjacent to the CBD. Therefore, I think there should be a buffer zone (buildings 7-8 stories and less) between the historic neighborhoods and the CBD, but there shouldn't be a height limit for the rest of downtown. The developers are right- land is VERY expensive downtown, and the only way to make a profit is to go up. If there is a 10-story height limit imposed, then developers will not want to build major residential/office developments downtown.

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Hopefully, the City Council will take the proper action and overturn the unrealistic height limit. It's the only real way to revitalize (or maybe it should be "vitalize") the downtown area. Not only would it "look" better ... enable us to look like a city ... it should enable businesses and further residential developers to locate downtown.

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I agree with the buffer zone. It makes a lot of sense.

The one thing that makes me mad about this height restriction is that eventually it's gonna cause downtown to be this sprawling mass. No specific city core, just a lot of dotted buildings. Of course, because of the restriction, developers could just decide not to build in Huntsville, which, is actually the more likely of the two.

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Why are these issues always so heated? The buffer seems like a really reasonable compromise. Leave the height restriction (or make it even more stringent) in place for anything to the northeast or southeast of the square, lift the height restriction on property northwest and southwest. Problem solved. The areas directly adjacent to the historic districts are pretty much built out with nice, established properties anyway, so there really isn't much to lose commercially.

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Why are these issues always so heated? The buffer seems like a really reasonable compromise. Leave the height restriction (or make it even more stringent) in place for anything to the northeast or southeast of the square, lift the height restriction on property northwest and southwest. Problem solved. The areas directly adjacent to the historic districts are pretty much built out with nice, established properties anyway, so there really isn't much to lose commercially.

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has anyone seen a map showing the actual areas they are talking about? I bet there are very few properties that would be impacted. The Medical District is in the clear, the desolate areas north of Holmes, along Monroe to Pratt?I-565 along Church would be too I think. It's silly that the Constellation project is limited by this , (temporarily).

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I think Huntsville should lift it height restriction, but the city should allow the developers to go just crazy and up any ole thing just for the helluva it. This 21-story development sounds like it would help boost Huntsville downtown residential market by showing its success.

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