A planned $70 million redevelopment of the former downtown Holiday Inn site has Huntsville leaders contemplating major changes to Williams Avenue.
The developers of CityCentre at Big Spring — a new mixed-use project featuring a hotel, apartments, dining and office space — have asked the city to make the surrounding area more pedestrian friendly.
Huntsville Director of Urban Development Shane Davis said the city would like to narrow the five-lane portion of Williams Avenue bordering CityCentre down to two lanes. An existing left-turn lane from Williams onto Monroe Street would likely remain.
Davis said narrowing Williams Avenue would make for a much safer pedestrian connection between CityCentre and Big Spring International Park across the street.
The city recently launched a traffic study to see if Williams could be reduced to two lanes without causing problems for drivers going to and from the nearby Von Braun Center.
“If the traffic study doesn’t recommend narrowing, we would look at maybe changing the surface of Williams into a cobblestone or stamped concrete feel that helps slow traffic down,” Davis told AL.com.
CityCentre is expected to create significantly more pedestrian activity downtown than the old Holiday Inn that it is replacing.
The developers plan to pack 230 apartments, a 150-room hotel, multiple restaurants and shops, 30,000 square feet of professional office space and a six-level parking deck onto the roughly six-acre property.
People who live, work and shop at CityCentre will be a short stroll from Big Spring Park, the VBC and Huntsville Museum of Art. But to reach those places, they will have to cross Williams Avenue or Monroe Street.
“We want to make that area safer for pedestrians,” said Davis. “We also want to ensure that during large events like concerts and graduations, people can get in and out of the VBC.
“We don’t want to create a logjam in front of the VBC,” he said, “because that’s also a pedestrian hazard.”