Category Archives: Media Coverage

AC Hotel by Marriott in downtown Huntsville now open

The first piece of the CityCentre development in downtown Huntsville is now open for business.

The AC Hotel by Marriott – the first in Alabama – announced Tuesday that it was now welcoming guests at its location at Williams Avenue and Monroe Street.

The hotel has 120 rooms over six levels and has blended itself into the Rocket City by adopting some historic neighborhood names. The facility’s three meeting rooms are named for former Huntsville mills: Lincoln, Lowe and Merrimack.

Together the three rooms have been tabbed The Gallery at Big Spring Park – an event space for more than 200 guests that overlooks the downtown park by the same name and, according to the hotel, is “perfect for wedding receptions.”

Later this year, the hotel will open The Veranda – the second-floor terrace bar overlooking the park and adjacent to the event space.

Developed by Doradus Partners in partnership with RCP Companies, the hotel was the 10th signed U.S. location for AC Hotels, a global joint venture with Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan.

“We are delighted to introduce the AC Hotels brand to the Rocket City,” Srinath Yedla, President and CEO of Yedla Management Company, which will manage the property, said in the announcement. “AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown remains true to the brand’s philosophy and centers on a frictionless experience for on-the-go guests.”

The AC Hotel is part of a hotel boom ongoing in downtown Huntsville. Three other hotels have been announced in the vicinity of the Von Braun Center but have not yet started construction.

A second hotel is also planned for the CityCentre development, according to Huntsville city officials. That announcement could come later this year.

Development booming in downtown Huntsville; more projects coming

Project planned at old Coca-Cola plant site, new AC Hotel nears completion

By Lindsey Connell – WAFF 48

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) – From new hotels and new stores and restaurants, there’s a lot going on in downtown Huntsville.

Crews are putting the finishing touches on the new AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown by Marriott. It includes six levels and 120 guest rooms, as well as an AC Library, co-working space, event space and three meeting rooms named after the city’s historic mills—Lincoln, Lowe and Merrimack.

“We’re super excited. We’ve started taking reservations from April 15th on and as we start to open our doors, which will be in later part of February, that date will move forward so we can get guests in sooner than April 15th,” said Michael Owenby. Director of Sales and Marketing.

Developed by Doradus Partners in partnership with RCP Companies, the hotel was the 10th signed U.S. location for AC Hotels, a global joint venture with Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan.

“Everything about the hotel is modern and sleek. They’ve really eliminated the nonessential things and focused on the details. We’re excited because there’s nothing like this in Huntsville. We’re going to have three food venues- The AC Lounge, the veranda bar on the second floor overlooking Big Spring Park as well as a full service restaurant,” Owenby stated.

AC Hotel Huntsville Downtown is the first tenant for CityCentre at Big Spring, a highly anticipated $100 million, mixed-use development in Huntsville’s rejuvenated urban core. The development includes 30,000 sq. ft. of retail and restaurant space, 277 upscale apartment units and an artisanal food hall. The food hall and residential units are currently under conceptual design and will go to construction contracts upon design completion.

“Our corporate management company is based here in Huntsville and a homegrown company. So we’re excited to be a part of that expansion. We’re a huge component of the CityCentre project and we’re excited to be involved with the community and really be a big part of all of the great things happening downtown,” Owenby stated.

Meanwhile, the expansion of the Von Braun Center is moving right along.

First on the plan is a new music venue, restaurant area and rooftop bar at the corner Clinton Avenue and Monroe Street.

It will be a “plug-and-play” venue with permanent stage, lighting and sound systems for the artists’ use. The rooftop bar and restaurant will be open seven days a week.

The second phase of the renovation will be a large convention center expansion. There will be a new state-of-the-art ballroom. North Hall will be totally revamped. A new kitchen complex is going in, as well as a new break out rooms to support larger conventions and groups. There will be a lot of interior improvements to existing areas so they look new and fresh.

It’s the most ambitious construction project in the VBC’s 43-year history with a cost of $44 million.

Mayor Tommy Battle says as Huntsville grows, every section of the city has to grow with it.

“We’re having more and more emphasis on downtown and as downtown grows, we spread out and we see more development as you go down South Parkway and North Parkway. The success of downtown grows to the whole city. It’s what we would call the living room of our city and people come down there, we have retail, shops, dining. It gives everyone an identity for this city so it’s great to see all those things happening,” he said.

And another new addition to the downtown growth is Chick-Fil-A. The company is looking to put a restaurant near Huntsville Hospital.

Tiffany Simmons, External Communications for Chick-fil-A, Inc., released this statement: “While we are still early in the process, we are excited to confirm that Chick-fil-A is actively pursuing a restaurant located in downtown Huntsville at Governors Drive and Joseph Lowery Boulevard near the Huntsville Hospital medical district. We’ve been eager to serve this particular area of Huntsville for quite some time, and we have found a great location in an area that will best serve the community. We look forward to serving our future guests delicious food in a welcoming restaurant environment.”

Mayor Battle the activity in Downtown Huntsville and beyond is shaping the city’s future.

“The AC Hotel has an opening date, and now behind it will become apartments and some retail on the bottom portion of it. A parking deck will be built over there. We have Redstone Federal Credit Union building coming up. Hampton Inn is coming in right across the street from the Civic Center. We’ve been talking to Constellation about it being redeveloped. We have some development starting over at the old Coca Cola site,” he said.

As for the site of the former Coca-Cola plant on Clinton Avenue, a mixed use development project is the works for the 13 acre property across from the Von Braun Center.

Mitch Rutter, a member of the executive Rocket Development Partners, based out of New York City, says their economic studies targeted cities that are poised for the next phase of their growth and Huntsville meets those metrics- population growth, wage growth, and job growth.

“There’s an educated and sophisticated inflow of people and a good leadership team which the city has shown with their master plan for downtown. An example expansion of the Von Braun Center,” Rutter said.

(Source: WAFF)

Rocket Development Partners’ goal is to go into burgeoning downtown areas and provide people, especially young people, young couples and empty nesters, with walkability and a live/work experience.

They see the old Coca Cola site as a “jewel” that along with the renovated VBC, will add to the heart of downtown Huntsville.

The city is also planning a renovation of Pinhook Creek which borders one side of the property with walkways, greenways and bikeways.

Rocket Development Partners have retained Matheny Goldmon Architecture & Interiors, the same architect on the VBC project and Urban Design Associates, who developed the city’s long-term plan.

The project will be complimentary to downtown, Rutter stressed. It will be a mixed use development that will be heavy on residential with work space downstairs.

“There will be apartments. Residents will be able to live in a loft-like setting and work at home and then go to some sort of gallery space downstairs. We’re going to coordinate with art experts and local artists and musicians. It will fit with the new music venue going in at the Von Braun Center,” Rutter explained.

There will be a parking component and some retail space. There will also be office space for companies at Research Park or on Redstone Arsenal who want a satellite location for recruiting, etc. There will also be incubator space for up and coming companies.

The whole space will be modeled after The Gulch area of Nashville, an upscale neighborhood known for its chic hotels, high-end fashion boutiques and trendsetting restaurants.

“This is a long term commitment. We’re not looking to build and sell. This is a project that’s going to be done in phases over a 10 year period,” Rutter stated.

There is a parcel designated for a hotel that Rocket Development Partners will not be building or operating.

“We are fielding inquiries from hotel operators who feel that being directly opposite the VBC would be a good opportunity for them. It should be able to provide conference services, but we don’t want it to compete with the new ballroom being built at the VBC,” Rutter added.

He could not yet provide any dates yet on groundbreaking or construction. A lot of work is being done in the planning process.

The said the project will be designed to help, not hurt, traffic patterns.

“We’re going to integrate it to the outside. There will be roads through it to facilitate traffic and transit downtown,” Rutter said.

“We’re seeing a lot of rejuvenation and renovation of a lot of spaces,” Mayor Battle added.

He touched on other plans across the city, adding: “We’re talking about an amphitheater out in the western part of town, down south a library at the old Grissom site, up north a library at Berachah Academy. Between all of that, it just means we have more offerings for people. This is a reason to live in Huntsville and be a part of the city. We have 110,000 people a day who come into the city and work then go home to other communities. As we grow, some of those people might decide to end up living in Huntsville.”

Artists everywhere invited to submit qualifications for $530,000 Huntsville art project

Arts Huntsville invites local, national and international artists to submit qualifications for $530,000 public art project

By Erin Dunbar at

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. –  Arts Huntsville announced an international Request for Qualifications to design a large-scale, multi-site public art installation in downtown Huntsville.

The project expected to span three sites will include a renovated plaza area in Big Spring Park, an interior plaza at RCP Companies’ CityCentre mixed-use development, and a pocket park adjacent to Redstone Federal Credit Union’s new branch located along Huntsville’s developing greenway system. The award for the project is $530,000, making it the largest-scale public art project ever recorded in Huntsville.

Selected semi-finalists can propose artwork based on the project criteria. Up to four semi-finalist artists or artistic teams will receive $3,000 honorariums to create and present a design proposal. The deadline to submit qualifications is Friday, February 15th.

RCP Companies, the Community Foundation of Greater Huntsville, Redstone Federal Credit Union, the City of Huntsville, and Arts Huntsville are the collaborators of this massive project. Arts Huntsville will manage the project and the City will own the pieces.

The project aim is to represent a visual link between Big Spring Park, CityCentre, and the pocket park. It will also create a collaborative space that provides social opportunities with the community. Strong visual aesthetics are necessary in order to represent the community of Huntsville and celebrate the community’s core values.

“We’ve watched temporary public art in Big Spring Park captivate the community this past year, and now this group of community partners are going to help an artist create pieces that will engage and inspire us each day in the heart of downtown,” said Allison Dillon-Jauken, Arts Huntsville executive director.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battled added, “Huntsville is an innovative, smart city driven by creative people. It’s been a long-standing community vision to integrate more public art into our daily lives. This exciting project takes this vision to the next level.”

Interested artists can learn more and apply at

Introducing The Gemini Kitchen + Cocktails

First Southern Fried CityCentre restaurant coming this fall

By William Thornton at

Construction is expected to begin later this month on the first restaurant concept from Southern Fried Hospitality for Huntsville’s CityCentre at Big Spring.

The Gemini Kitchen + Cocktails is described as a “polished-casual, modern American restaurant designed to provide an affordable quality dining experience.”

It is expected to open later this fall at City Centre at Big Spring, the $100 million, mixed-used development on Williams Avenue between Monroe Street and Lowe Avenue.

Last month, RCP Companies, the developer of City Centre and MidCity, announced a partnership with Georgia-based Southern Fried Hospitality – and award-winning chef Marc Taft, an Alabama native – to provide hospitality management and restaurant development for the two mixed-used projects.

The name Gemini alludes to the mythological twins, Taft said, but also to the concept in play for the new restaurant – two different sides adept at blending into different groups “based on the vibe and energy perceived.” The menu will feature comfortable, familiar dishes that are affordable.

“Much like the duality of the Twins, The Gemini embraces the idea that you can have an upscale business dinner or casual social experience in the same location,” he said.

The Gemini will be open for dinner Monday through Sunday and brunch service on Saturday and Sunday. The bar will offer “classic and modern versions” of American cocktails, as well as craft beer and a wine list.

Taft said the restaurant plans to support local farmers, ranchers and artisans in the Huntsville area when choosing “thoughtfully selected ingredients.”

Max Grelier, co-founder of RCP Companies, said The Gemini concept will connect with Huntsville, down to its design reminiscent of the city’s early days with the space program.

The restaurant will have a 100-plus-seat dining room, a bar for up to 20, a patio seating almost 50 with a view of Big Springs Park and a private dining room for 20.

The mid-century design will use reclaimed wood, leather, bronze mirrors, patterned tiles and white marble, as well as art work providing homages to Huntsville’s history, space history and the restaurant’s namesake twins.

But the food has the spotlight. Many times, Taft said, chefs lose sight of the job – producing the best possible dish. That will be the goal of The Gemini.

“All too often, we try too hard and think that we must create dishes that require the ‘education’ of our guests,” he said. “I believe that eating should not be work and that people typically know how to eat and what they like. It doesn’t take being educated by a chef or restaurant staff to recognize delicious.”

Mayor calls new $110M federal courthouse a ‘legacy’ for Huntsville

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle called Washington’s decision Friday to build a new federal courthouse in downtown Huntsville a “legacy project” that will change the face of the city for decades.

“The federal courthouse, a legacy project for Huntsville, would not have been possible without the support of Sen. Richard Shelby,” Battle said in a statement. “He has worked diligently for decades to secure this much needed facility for Huntsville to serve North Alabama.”

Shelby is credited with getting a $110 million appropriation for the courthouse added to the Omnibus Funding Bill passed by Congress Thursday and signed by President Trump Friday. That is exactly the amount federal officials estimated it would cost to design and build the new courthouse.

The site is a given. The city bought five acres at the corner of Gallatin Street and Lowe Avenue about five years ago for the courthouse. The land formerly held the local Mental Health Center and was purchased when the center moved.

The existing federal courthouse building in Huntsville sits at the corner of Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue across the street from The Avenue residential and retail complex. The old courthouse built in 1936 will be replaced by a new courthouse further south in the downtown area. (Lee Roop/ 

The existing courthouse sits at the corner of Holmes Avenue and Jefferson Street in a building constructed in 1936 for use as a post office. A WPA mural is painted on the main courtroom wall, and the long, wooden spectator benches are a direct linkto courthouses and churches of a century ago.

The future of the old courthouse building will be the subject of a community conversation, mayoral spokeswoman Kelly Schrimsher said Friday. “It’s an important historic building,” Schrismsher said.

There has been relatively little public talk about the need for a new courthouse, but the federal government had ranked it the second-highest building priority in the federal system. That ranking was approved by the Judicial Conference of the United States in 2017, and the conference put the $110 million price tag on the project.

“The $110 million provided in the bill to fund a new federal courthouse in Huntsville is excellent news for North Alabama and has been a priority of mine for many years,” Shelby said in a statement. “I am proud to support this effort and look forward to its completion and lasting impact on the area.”