DruidCity

Tuscaloosa Developments

86 posts in this topic

We don't have much of a downtown now (though Birmingham is just a 45-minute drive), mainly because the city government is the only one of our major employers located there. It's always been that way.

However, the city hopes to get the ball rolling on some fairly sizable projects.

At this point, I'd say we're more at the "wish list" stage than really getting all that much done, but even that's pretty exciting for locals.

Recently, planners have given estimates of costs associated with the largest projects:

* Riverwalk development plan - This is the biggie, and will probably take forever-and-a-day to really come about. As it currently stands, less than a mile of the planned 13-mile Riverwalk is open. The local engineer in charge of the plan estimates the total plan will require $60 M in public investment and $400 M in private investment. My uneducated guess is that we'll be lucky to get half that amount in private investment, but probably twice that in public investment, since I'm guessing his $60 M refers to just the development costs, and maybe a similar amount will be needed for major land acquisitions.

There are two sizable development areas in the current Riverwalk master plan.

The largest of these is in the downtown area. It would require purchasing and flattening most of the current occupants (such as the Tuscaloosa Chevrolet dealership) over an area equivalent to 20 or more blocks, several of which would be redeveloped with mixed-use buildings.

Discussions include a riverfront amphitheatre and a convention center/hotel complex. The toughest hang-up now is the Army Corps of Engineers property, which covers about 12 acres or so or riverfront property across the street from the Tuscaloosa County Library. The city wants that property to develop into an area called "Tuscaloosa Landing," which would include retail, restaurants,etc, but it will be very expensive to relocate the Corps.

The other proposed development area is just south of the river and just east of US 82. A condo is a rumored possibility for that area.

Some locals suggested the city invest in a "major tourist attraction" like an aquarium/IMAX, but city officials decided not to go that route, opting instead for mixed-use developments probably geared more toward modest value-added for local quality of life than to try to establish a real tourist market.

* Downtown revitalization district - Planned "urban renewal" of a seven-block area south of City Hall, in the center of downtown. Officials are still studying the particulars of this plan, but they hope to move faster on this one than the Riverwalk. Most of the existing seven-block area would be demolished. Most of it wouldn't be missed. Some of the businesses that would have to relocate include Tuscaloosa Furniture (has been there 60+ years), the state's oldest bar, the city's only alternative bar, and a branch of the U.S. Post Office.

It is estimated that the plan will take 5 years or so to complete, if funding comes through for a $50-M Federal building, which would be the primary anchor of the district. The city estimates that an additional $30 M in public investment will be needed for the district & private investment will be solicited for some offices, retail, and residential. A parking deck is included in the plan, also.

* Municipal complex improvements - About $10 M, mostly complete. The new municipal court opened last year, as did the "pocket park."

* Queen City Avenue improvements - Our main area of "historic districts." Landscaped traffic circles were put in a year or two ago. The city plans to spend $3M to purchase a former school site to create a 12-acre park at the SE corner of downtown, which will supposedly include a "Victorian-style building."

On the other end of Q.C. Avenue, connecting the Riverwalk and NE corner of downtown, is Queen City Park, a 13-acre area that is pretty much just dead space now.

A study estimated it would cost $3.8 million to redevelop that park area, including the long-shuttered historic art deco poolhouse.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I always hoped that Tuscaloosa would hurry up and do something great with the river...oh and tear down Rose Towers, HAHA. I stayed there for two summers when I went to Crimson Music Camp and EWWW. The landscaped traffic circles sound cool, I haven't heard anythign about that. Could you elaborate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I always hoped that Tuscaloosa would hurry up and do something great with the river..."

Same here. The city recently spent very heavily on new schools ($100-M+) & will have to build budgets back up before pressing forward on the river.

Tuscaloosa Chevrolet plans to move out in 2005 & that's one of the main properties the city needs. Currently, the city is putting the finishing touches on another .3-mile section of the Riverwalk near the Bama Belle.

If we're able to build out everything the city wants, the riverfront should be a nice addition to the overall Birmingham-Tuscaloosa package. Who knows, eventually commuter rail between Birmingham and (Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Gadsden) ?

I've never been in Rose Towers, but I hope it stays, just because it's one of the few buildings around here over one story :D

The university is planning to demolish 6-story Paty Hall, though, which is the 2nd-largest men's dorm. That will likely happen in 2005 or so.

Long-term plans include 5 new residence halls, though President Witt has said he prefers smaller buildings, so we won't see any new "residential towers."

re: traffic circles/devices - Nothing major, just little median-type areas in the middle of Queen City Ave with a couple of crepe myrtles each. I've seen more of those in Mobile than elsewhere in the state.

re: music - Given the current financial situation, I don't expect to see it anytime soon, but in the long-term, the UofA would like to build a $34-M performing arts complex adjoining the current music building :

http://www.bdsarch.com/UA%20Fine%20and%20P...0Performing.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The "Towers" name is a bit misleading, because it's only one building.

The University of Alabama's largest men's dorm, Rose Towers:

rosetowers.gif

The following photo shows the 11-story Verner Tower (Baptist retirement home) in front of Rose Towers : verner.jpg

In the interest of gender equity, here is the UofA's largest women's dorm, Tutwiler Hall :

tut.jpg

business-stadium.jpg

At 13 stories each, Rose & Tutwiler each hold over 900 students.

Here's the main section of Riverwalk plan:

NPDQOMRUAPEBGDBWKYCZ-riverwalkwest.jpg

Here is the current view from City Hall toward the downtown revitalization district (The gray Bank of Tuscaloosa building is the next block from the proposed residential component) :

City%20Hall%20Complex.jpg

As the following shows, a lot of area around downtown is undeveloped or underutilized, so there's a ton of room to work with :

riverplan.jpg

aerialgood.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Auburn is in Birmingham

Auburn is actually in Auburn, AL. They are rivals though. B-Ham as UAB, University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually, Auburn is in the town of Auburn, which is about 35 miles from Columbus , Georgia, 55 miles east of Montgomery,AL, and 100+ miles SE of Birmingham.

Auburn and Alabama are definitely rivals, especially considering both are among the top 10 nationally for home football attendance :)

Here are Alabama's four largest universities :

* Auburn University (Auburn) - Consistently the largest enrollment & the only one of the state's half-dozen largest colleges with programs in agriculture and veterinary medicine. Other specialties include an asphalt research center, pharmacy program, architecture, and the largest engineering college in the state. Auburn also maintains a branch campus in Montgomery called AUM & is heavily involved with the state's assorted agricultural outreach programs.

* University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa, 50 miles west of Birmingham, 50 miles east of Mississippi) ) - The state's oldest major university (1831), second-largest enrollment (20,000), oldest engineering program in the state, state's only public law school, state's most comprehensive offerings in the arts & sciences (alumni include actress Sela Ward and the "Father of Sociobiology" Dr. Edward O. Wilson), well-known business school (alumni include the CEOs of Union Planters, PriceWaterHouseCooper's, and the majority of the Alabama's corporations on Fortune and Forbes lists), communications school (led the nation in number of research publications last year), and the most USA Today Academic All-American students in 2003,.

* UAB (Birmingham)- The roots of Birmingham's urban university date to 1945, when the medical school was moved from Tuscaloosa after WWII.

The University of Alabama maintained small satellite commuter branches in Birmingham, Mobile, and Huntsville. In the 1960s, UAB and UAH were formed as independent universities under the University of Alabama System, so the universities in Birmingham, Huntsville, and Tuscaloosa operate pretty much independently and competitively, even though served

they're served by the same board of trustees.

UAB has the third largest enrollment of Alabama's universities, but the largest budget by a huge margin, because of the very successful University Hospital in Birmingham and the University of Alabama School of Medicine at UAB.

Because of those medical assets, UAB is metro Birmingham's largest employer, and the largest non-government employer in Alabama.

UAB is Alabama's only major urban campus & I expect it will grow to become the largest university in the state within the next 25-50 years.

* USA (Mobile) - When the University of Alabama closed its small satellite branch in Mobile in the 1960s, Mobile locals decided to found their own university.

The University of South Alabama has grown at a rapid pace, and now has over 13,000 students. Mobile had the state's original medical school in the 1800s, which became part of the University of Alabama system & was moved to Tuscaloosa in the first half of the 1900s, before moving to Birmingham.

USA now has the state's only full medical school other than UAB & USA's total annual budget is in either second or third place among Alabama's major universities.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leave it to a Bama fan to emphasize Auburn's agriculture program and place the College of Engineering, our greatest asset, at the end of the list. :P

OK, time to do a little bragging about Auburn:

  • For the 11th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report magazine has rated Auburn University as the highest ranked public university in the state of Alabama. In its annual rankings for America's Best Colleges 2004, the magazine listed AU No. 44 among the top 50 public national universities.

  • The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn is ranked 3rd among public institutions in the Southeast (behind only Georgia Tech and Florida).

  • According to Forbes, Auburn University has produced more CEOs for the nations best small companies than any university in the South, and ranked Auburn fourth nationally in this category.

  • Auburn is in the top 10 for producing astronauts (top 5 if you don't include the military academies).

  • Auburn was the first university in the South to offer a degree in architecture, and its architecture program is one of the oldest in the nation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DruidCity, what's the current status of the riverwalk? That thing will be an outstanding asset for the city and the university.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


"Leave it to a Bama fan to emphasize Auburn's agriculture program and place the College of Engineering, our greatest asset, at the end of the list.  :P

OK, time to do a little bragging about Auburn:

  • For the 11th consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report magazine has rated Auburn University as the highest ranked public university in the state of Alabama.  In its annual rankings for America's Best Colleges 2004, the magazine listed AU No. 44 among the top 50 public national universities.

  • The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn is ranked 3rd among public institutions in the Southeast (behind only Georgia Tech and Florida).

  • According to Forbes, Auburn University has produced more CEOs for the nations best small companies than any university in the South, and ranked Auburn fourth nationally in this category.

  • Auburn is in the top 10 for producing astronauts (top 5 if you don't include the military academies).

  • Auburn was the first university in the South to offer a degree in architecture, and its architecture program is one of the oldest in the nation.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

"

Leave it to an Auburn fan to fail to mention that Alabama was practically dead even with Auburn in that particular rating (also in the top 50 public universities). I realize this thread was started in Fall 2003 so those numbers are now outdated. Bama is actually now ranked just slightly ahead of Auburn as of the last ranking that came out in Fall 2004. Bama was 86th among ALL colleges and 39th among public schools while Auburn was ranked 90th among ALL colleges and 42nd among public schools. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm gonna catch hell for this, but..........

GO GATORS!! Hehe

But seriously, both Tuscaloosa and Auburn are gorgeous cities and both Bama and Auburn have beautiful campuses. I've enjoyed every visit up there.

Tuscaloosa has tons of potential. It's glad to see the city making forward progress.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When is Tuscaloosa Co. going to be considered part of Birmingham's metro? I mean dang... I realize a certain percentage must commute to and work in Birmingham, but arent we there yet? Chilton Co is in our metro and theyre two counties south of us... Tuscaloosa Co is not in our metro and touches the western border of our county. I mean I'm not one for just adding and adding and adding counties to inflate your metro numbers, but Tuscaloosa Co is just a couple of miles from our southern beltway. If Tuscaloosa Co is ever added, that would be another 160-180,000 to our metro.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting page on Tuscaloosa, one of the most unique names for a town ever. We stopped to eat there on my trip to New Orleans, and we ate at a Long John Silvers there. It has some size, it's not some little bump in the road like some think, I hope it grows, because Alabama as a whole is growing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting page on Tuscaloosa, one of the most unique names for a town ever. We stopped to eat there on my trip to New Orleans, and we ate at a Long John Silvers there. It has some size, it's not some little bump in the road like some think, I hope it grows, because Alabama as a whole is growing.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I actually know some Native Indian language from hearing the translation of Tuscaloosa. As many people who have been through or are familiar with Tuscaloosa know, the Black Warrior River runs through the city. In fact, Tusca-loosa actually translates into "Black Warrior" which is the name of the native American chief that ruled the area tribe. The city of Tuscaloosa has almost 80,000 residents and coupled with Northport (roughly 19,000 residents) which adjoins it, the immediate urban area has barely under 100,000 residents so it's a pretty good size city. Speaking of Northport, I don't know why Tuscaloosa doesn't get together with Northport and merge into one city. They are more or less the same place (completely adjoining) and a merged city.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love the "A"s painted on the streets approaching the U of A campus. We may steal that idea from you. If you ever see painted "F"s on University Ave. in Gainesville, FL, you'll know where we got the idea from. Hehe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, there's not much height going on, but there's a decent amount of development going on.

We recently elected a 32-year-old Democrat as mayor. 4 of 7 councilpeople are political newcomers. An interesting footnote is that the majority-white council chose the city's first black city council president. Our main suburb, Northport, has an even larger percentage white population, and also has a black city council president.

On to the projects and proposals :

The Legends - $18-million, 7-story, 60-unit luxury (pricing starts at $315k) condo near the football stadium. Presale event October 21, construction expected to begin spring 2006. http://www.thelegendsoftuscaloosa.com/photogallery.html

Riverwalk Place - 3.5-acre site under consideration by city , downtown/riverfront area. Originally proposed as 9 stories, 140 feet, but has been modified, due to NIMBY opposition to 6 stories & 31 units, plus a park and a stand-alone restaurant. The units would sell for $700k+.

Rumored 11-story condo downtown behind state liquor store - Nothing happening there yet, so status uncertain.

Sabel Steel redevelopment - Several years ago, a local developer cleared this prominent downtown site, with the stated purpose of building a "Class A Office Building." The site remains clear and vacant, with no sign of progress.

Tuscaloosa downtown Riverwalk development - Still waiting on two key parcels to become available.

The 8-acre Tuscaloosa Chevrolet site should be vacated by the end of the year. The 11-acre Corps of Engineers offices will hopefully be relocated, but might be years off. Exactly what will go on these key parcels remains to be seen. A development group is studying the feasibility of building Tuscaloosa's first upscale convention hotel at the "Cityfest Block" downtown, next to downtown's current tallest building. Kemmons Wilson group will manage the hotel, if this happens.

The study period goes through mid-2006.

The Townes of North River - Proposed 162-acre subdivision that would include about 500 residences, mixed in with some retail and office (possibly some in "new urbanist" fashion, with lofts above), and 7 small parks, with walking trails connecting to adjacent Sokol Park (Sokol, the city golf course and adjacent city schools represent about 1,000 contiguous acres of public space).

Midtown - After much delay, it appears that the local developer will sell off the 35-acre retail site to Cypress Equities of Texas. Call it "sprawl," but as it is, people here have to drive to metro B'ham to shop at places like Barnes&Noble and Best Buy that this shopping center will likely have.

$50-million, 4-6 story Federal building to anchor downtown Tuscaloosa's revitalization district. The hope had been to begin building in 2007 to open in 2009, but Federal budget issues could push this back indefinitely. As hoped, a 3.5-acre site would be cleared, and would include a park area with a water feature and a place for concerts.

We're in the 3rd year of a 10-year expansion plan at the University of Alabama, with $hundreds of millions in building projects ongoing. Among the highlights are plans to increase on-campus enrollment from 4,200 to 7,000, plans to greatly expand campus transit, $28 million in improvements to Coleman Coliseum (to be completed in November 2005) and $50 million in expansion of Bryant-Denny Stadium (to be completed in August 2006).

Northport - In some ways, more of a "smaller twin city" than a true suburb, since it has been around for nearly as long. If the state environmental agency allows it, which is fully expected, the "Cotton Gin" site (where downtown Northport meets the river) will be home to a 4-6 story condo, with retail on the ground floor. Construction could begin in 2006. Stonegate Realty of Birmingham, which helped design Oklahoma City's Bricktown area, is in charge of Northport's downtown/riverfront development master plan, including the condo project. Northport might also build a new City Hall.

The century-old, 2-story Spiller Furniture building in the heart of downtown Northport has a new owner, who will spend $1 million+ to convert it to mixed-use & will add iron railings to the upper level to match the lower.

There are also plans to rehab an 1871 bridge as a pedestrian feature to Northport's Riverwalk in 2006.

Assorted smaller projects :

Tuscaloosa Transportation Museum - The planned redevelopment of the historic Queen City Park poolhouse downtown - probably a year off.

Likewise, a planned 5-acre park at the SE corner of downtown, is probably another year off. The elementary school that was at the site has been cleared.

The Reserve at North River - 233-unit apartment development, plus 15 acres of retail and offices. Eventually, the city hopes to build a park between this development and the Lake Tuscaloosa spillway, and connect it to the Riverwalk.

The developers of "The Reserve" also bought a 36-acre riverfront site from the city at the former site of a water treatment plant. This site is at the SE corner of US 82 and the Black Warrior River, and will be connected to the Riverwalk. It's within a mile of the university, and there are numerous apartments and condos in the general area. This water treatment site has excellent topography & could potentially support multi-level residential.

6- or 7-story, $10-million Hilton Garden Inn near the interstate (and also Academy Sports & Outdoors) are supposed to begin construction by the end of the year.

There's a whole pile of new little 3- and 4-story apartments and pre-sale condos as well, many in the few blocks between downtown and the university. It's practically a frenzy of activity on these deals. In a couple of cases, these new condos are going in parts of town that were very poor, and greatly improving the surroundings and property values. Such is the case with a planned 11-acre condo development in Alberta City.

Here's a nice article on Tuscaloosa's growing art scene:

http://www.americanstyle.com/Magazine/AS44..._Tuscaloosa.cfm

Edited by DruidCity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


Lots of activity in T-town. The Riverwalk will be something else when it's done. Thanks for the update, DruidCity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Rumored 11-story condo downtown behind state liquor store - Nothing happening there yet, so status uncertain."

Okay, this one's going forward, but it is now planned for 8 stories.

The bottom story will likely be a restaurant or market, the second will likely be office space, and the remainder residential. It's just a block from city hall, so this is a key location.

More on Midtown : Cypress Equities has purchased the property.

Get this, they want to build a mixed-use village of 2-4 story buildings, with retail on the ground floor with a great amount of residential and a bit of office space in the upper floors. Some parking will be in deck form.

They plan to target national chain stores not currently in the market (Barnes & Noble seems like a very likely choice), but instead of chain restaurants, they want mostly local choices. Imagine that !

Current estimates for the project are in the $100 million range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is that the building that's catty-corneed from the city hall annex (near the old T-News building)?

That's pretty exciting about the MidTown development. I hope they move quickly on it. It's something of an eyesore right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, the 8-story deal will be on the hill between City Hall and the river. The site is where there used to be a muffler shop/auto repair place. Address : 305 21st Avenue , Tuscaloosa,AL 35401

Now, there are also plans to replace that stuff behind City Hall & Annex like the old T-News building you mentioned: http://www.tuscaloosarenewal.com/

Re: Midtown - You're right that it's an eyesore. It has looked horrible for a long time now.

For that matter, the city has let a lot of areas (like downtown) look much worse than they ought to.

I'm hopeful that the city will become a little more proactive on working on sites like those.

The local economy is pretty good, but one would never get that impression from looking at the town now.

If even a couple of these projects can find some success, it should get the ball rolling on the others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey that 8-story project is very interesting! Anyone seen any renderings or have any idea of what the design will be like?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey that 8-story project is very interesting! Anyone seen any renderings or have any idea of what the design will be like?

They haven't released any timetable or renderings. The needed zoning change was approved just a couple weeks ago.

It is an interesting location, though, with a view toward the river, and the property backs up to 11-acre Queen City Park, which will be home to a transportation museum next year and already includes the city/county library.

I'm guessing the timing might depend somewhat on what happens with the adjacent lot, which is currently used to store junked automobiles. :sick:

The developers of the planned 8-story did say that the bottom floor would be a restaurant or market, office space on the second floor, then residential levels starting at $125,000/unit, and on the top level, penthouses starting at $500,000+.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is that the project that was mentioned in today's T-News? Sounds cool. I just wish there was more development like this going on in downtown proper.

Oh if only I had a boatload of money. I'd be snapping up some of those older buildings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, it's the same project : "Metalworks."

It is confusing, because when I first heard about the project, it was 11 stories, then they said 8 , and now this new article is back to 11 :blink:

Maybe they mean 3 levels of parking, with 8 levels of building, or something like that ?

From the most recent article, the condos will be $150,000+ and penthouses $600,000+, and possible design features include a rooftop pool. I guess the final design will depend on their meetings with the planning and zoning board.

I e-mailed one of the project's developers at Advantage Realty Group, who said that they hope to begin pre-sales possibly by the end of November.

"I just wish there was more development like this going on in downtown proper."

Me, too. I also wish the city would move downtown utilities underground.

I keep hoping some developers will come in and buy out some of those auto repair places and stuff like that & replace with condos and restaurants and other quality urban building. There are some nice old buildings like the Kress building (currently Quality Furniture) and the Allen & Jemison building (the big antique mall behing the Episcopal church), where just the bottom floor is being used that could make such nice loft-style residences like they're doing up in Birmingham, if only someone had the $$$ to invest.

One good note is that several of these new condo projects are being done by local people.

If they have some success, they should be able to tackle progressively larger developments.

Edited by DruidCity

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Druid City - Any renderings of these two new downtown condos mentioned in today's T-News?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.