Category Archives: Media Coverage

Award-winning chef bringing hot new dishes to MidCity, CityCentre

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) – Fresh off the heels of the big announcement that Dave and Buster’s is coming to MidCity in Huntsville, developers are revealing some more good news, and this time it’s for all of the foodies out there.

A popular Atlanta chef is bringing his eateries to the Rocket City at both MidCity and CityCentre. The master-planned, mixed-use communities are currently under construction in Huntsville.

Chef Marc Taft, CEO of Southern Fried Hospitality

RCP Companies, the real estate firm behind MidCity and CityCentre, has partnered with award-winning chef Mark Taft out of Atlanta and his Southern Fried Hospitality company.

Taft has a few restaurants in Atlanta that he’s looking to bring to Huntsville, including his Brine Seafood Shack and FEED Fried Chicken.

RCP executives went to Atlanta to try some of his creations and they were very impressed.

Taft, who happens to be an Alabama native, will start with opening several concepts at The Camp, which is at MidCity and that’s going to feed into other projects at MidCity and CityCentre.

“We were looking for someone with modern concepts, fresh ideas, fresh menu items and good price points. We found Mark Taft and it was an easy fit. He has an extensive background in hospitality and we’re excited to have him on board and to see what he brings to MidCity and CityCentre,” Nadia Niakossary, RCP Companies Project Coordinator.

MidCity is currently the city’s largest mixed-use development and the nation’s fourth-largest commercial real estate project. CityCentre is a $100 million development in the city’s rejuvenated urban core.

“Marc Taft’s reputation along with his countless hospitality successes and what is undoubtedly a vast depth of industry knowledge, make this partnership a hands-down win-win opportunity for us as well as Huntsville, especially our growing foodie population,” said Max Grelier, cofounder of RCP Companies.

Most notably, the 2012/13 Zagat Survey recognized Southern Fried Hospitality’s metro Atlanta-based Chicken and the Egg as one of the “Top Five Best New Restaurants in Atlanta,” while AirTran’s GO magazine named the restaurant one of five culinary destinations for an upscale meal in Atlanta. Southern Fried is also known for Brine Seafood Shack at Avalon in Alpharetta, Georiga; FEED – Fried Chicken + Such at The Battery at SunTrust Park in Atlanta; along with CO-OP Community Table + Bar and Best Burger, two new concepts debuting next year at HALCYON in Forsyth County north of Atlanta.

“Brine and FEED are two brands that we plan to grow, The opportunity to deliver and manage restaurant concepts at these two developments is incredibly humbling,” said Taft. “Partnering with RCP will enable our company to embark on new ventures and create unique concepts while continuing the success of our established flavors that carry our southern heritage.”

Initial Southern Fried plans for MidCity include two to three chef-driven concepts for The Camp, a music and arts outdoor entertainment venue that launched last summer. Taft and his team will open and manage additional restaurants throughout the mixed-use development, including a food hall that will align with regional and national concepts already lined-up at MidCity.

At CityCentre, Southern Fried is expected to open several concepts adjacent to and inside the AC Hotel as well as a 12,000-square-foot artisanal culinary market, both of which will showcase Taft’s approach to southern delicacies.

“We intend to infuse the food hall craze with our unique approach to food and flavors of the South and introduce it to Huntsville’s culinary scene,” Taft stated.

Located on Williams Avenue between Monroe Street and Lowe Avenue, CityCentre is slated to include 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant and 10,000 square feet of commercial space surrounded by 270 upscale apartment homes and a 125-key AC Hotel. MidCity is a $350 million redevelopment at the 140-acre site of the former Madison Square Mall with plans for 345,000 square feet of street-level retail and dining, 200,000 square feet of technical and creative office space, 500 hotel rooms and 900 residences. The development is situated at the intersection of two of Huntsville’s primary commercial corridors: University Drive and Research Park Boulevard.

The new AC Hotel & restaurant by Marriott at Big Spring at the old Holiday Inn site is scheduled to open in October.

Meanwhile, Dave & Buster’s will open in July 2019.

Huntsville in the Top 10 for Best Cities to work in Tech

Find out where Huntsville ranks in the “The Top 10 Best American Cities to Work in Tech in 2016” in the original posted on on July 6, 2016.

Want to work in tech but not sure Silicon Valley is the place for you? You’re not alone. America’s tech scene isn’t just a California phenomenon. And in fact, when you factor in the cost of living, you might be surprised by the cities that turn out to be America’s best places for tech workers.

Read the full article here on

Huntsville Chamber releases report on state of the regional economy

Huntsville Chamber releases report on state of the regional economy

By Lucy Berry

May 19, 2016

A new study by UAH shows the future is looking bright for one of the 40 fastest-growing major U.S. metros in north Alabama.

The Chamber of Commerce of Huntsville/Madison County recently commissioned a regional study analyzing the impact of the 68 economic development projects announced by the Chamber from 2013-15. The report focuses on projects within Madison County, as well as the contiguous counties of Jackson, Limestone, Marshall, Morgan and Lincoln County, Tenn.

The study, which does not measures job losses or company closures, said the estimated economic impact of the projects includes a $4.2 billion expansion of the regional economy, 15,200 operations-related jobs and $989 million in additional yearly payroll.

“Overall, people are very pleased, the consultants we work with understand the market and have faith that if they bring a project here, it has a good chance of being successful,” said Chamber President/CEO Chip Cherry. “And then the workforce is what kind of makes us or breaks us and that’s what has allowed us to grow and excel because they find the people they need to make their companies successful.”

UAH said the economic development announcements created a $1.46 billion impact from capital investment, resulting in 11,300 jobs and $567 million in capital investment-related payroll.

That three-year period also includes a $128 million increase in net annual taxes (employment, state, and local), as well as $52 million in net local sales, property and other taxes. Jeff Thompson, research scientist in the Center for Management and Economic Research at UAH, conducted the study with UAH business lecturer and economist Brinda Mahalingam using IMPLAN software by MIG, Inc.

Thompson said the supply chain that follows an economic development project is as important as the announcement itself.

“If that company can’t get that supply — raw materials or people or whatever it is they need — they can’t be successful,” he said. “In this case, this is a measure of major success in this region.”

Madison County has continuously led the state as one of the top counties for capital investment and job-related announcements over the past few years. In 2015 alone, the area generated 1,226 new jobs and $71 million in new and expanding investment.

Remington Outdoor, Polaris Industries, Toyota Alabama, Science and Engineering Services and GE Aviation are just a few of the companies who have made high-profile jobs announcements in recent years. Cherry confirmed they are working about 48 active projects for the future.

“We have a number of projects that are really close to being closed, so it’s going to be a good year from a project count number,” he said.

While Huntsville/Madison County has enjoyed several economic successes, some neighboring communities haven’t been so lucky. Thousands of people lost their jobs from 2013-15 during nearby plant closures or layoffs at International Paper, Hillshire Brands, HON Company, Navistar, izzy+, Pilgrim’s Pride, Shaw Industries Group and more.

Cherry said it can be difficult for rural areas to have economic development success because they sometimes struggle with workforce perception, the recruitment of senior-level talent and infrastructure issues.

Every new or lost job is vital to the economy, Thompson added.

“You don’t exist as an island to yourself no matter how great a city or county you are or state for that matter,” he said. “You’re interdependent upon your neighbors and that’s really what I think drives this.”

Click here to view the full article.

Census: Huntsville and Auburn growing rapidly, Montgomery shrinking

Census: Huntsville and Auburn growing rapidly, Montgomery shrinking

By Challen Stephens

May 19, 2016

Huntsville continues to lead the growth in Alabama, according to new Census estimates released today, adding more than 10,000 residents since 2010. That’s more than any other city in the state.

At the current rate of growth, Huntsville would pass Birmingham as the state’s largest city within 15 years.

“I’m not worried about being biggest,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle when told about the new estimates, “I just want to make sure we keep giving a good quality of life.”

In Alabama, there are only four major cities, each hovering on either side of 200,000 people. And among these four, Montgomery is shrinking, while Mobile and Birmingham have been essentially stable since 2010.

Meanwhile, the new estimates for city populations in 2015 show growth in Huntsville picking up, as the city added 2,377 of those new residents from 2014 to 2015.

“You have to grow as a city to be a successful, healthy city,” said Battle, but added: “That’s a fine line to make sure your community grows but you don’t outgrow your infrastructure.”

Click here to read the full article.

Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in Alabama – Madison County #4

Best Suburbs to Raise a Family in Alabama

Explore the best suburbs to raise a family. Niche ranks US suburbs based on age demographics, school ratings, crime rates, and access to affordable housing, child care, libraries, and grocery stores. A high ranking indicates that a suburb attracts young families with good schools and a safe community.

Click here to view the full article and list of suburbs.