City Centre

at Big Spring

A year in review: the 10 most popular Huntsville, north Alabama business stories in 2014

We made the list!

Check out The Huntsville Times’ write-up on CityCentre at Big Spring

Lucy Berry
The Huntsville Times

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — 2014 was a big year for business in the Tennessee Valley.

Using web analytics, we compiled the most widely-read business stories in the Huntsville and north Alabama area during the past year.

Here is a list of some of our most popular 2014 business stories in no particular order. Let us know which stories you think should have made the cut in the comment section.

1. Remington: A few days after The Military Times leaked in February that Remington would open a large gun factory in Huntsville, company leaders confirmed they were expanding during a packed-out press conference with state and local officials. The $110 million firearms assembly and machining operation is located in the former Chrysler building near Huntsville International Airport and will employ up to 2,000 workers over several years. The facility, which is currently in pre-production, is hiring advanced manufacturing workers through Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT). Read full Remington coverage from here.

2. Shakalaka: Readers went crazy when they first learned about Shakalaka, an all-ages extreme indoor trampoline park developed by California entrepreneur Case Lawrence. Although the 4710 University Drive venue took several months to open, the site served thousands of jumpers within its first few days of operation. Shakalaka has 12,000 square feet of trampolines, a dodgeball stadium, slack lines, dunk basketball hoops, Olympic Foam Pits and more. Unlike elevated trampolines, Shakalaka has built-in platform decks so jumpers cannot fall off.

3. Whole Foods:

One of the area’s most-wanted retailers announced in February it would open its first Huntsville location. The store will anchor the Shops at Merchants Walk, a new 100,000-square-foot shopping and restaurant development under construction at Bob Wallace Avenue and Memorial Parkway. Maki Fresh Sushi Rolls and Japanese Grill, Mountain High Outfitters and Orangetheory Fitness are among announced retailers slated for the $50 million project.

4. Cabela’s: The city of Huntsville scored another key retailer in 2014 with the landing of Alabama’s first Cabela’s superstore. The Nebraska-based hunting, fishing and outdoor retailer has an 80,000-square-foot store under construction at the new Parkside Town Centre, an $80 million mixed-use project near the intersection of Interstate 565 and 255 at Governors West Road. The store was the subject of a lawsuit filed earlier this year by developer Louis Breland, claiming his former employee and current Huntsville school board member, Mike Culbreath, committed “economic espionage” against him, including stealing Cabela’s.

5. Lowe Mill: In Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment media director Dustin Timbrook’s words, 2014 was a “crossover year” for the regional arts center. The former cotton mill recently celebrated a major 37,000-square-foot north floor expansion, which increased the center’s square footage by 30 percent and brought the total number of working artists to 200. The grand opening in December attracted thousands of visitors, art lovers and Christmas shoppers to Lowe Mill.

6. Boeing: The Rocket City was among dozens of sites in 22 states competing for about 8,500 jobs and a $10 billion plant related to Boeing’s next-generation 777X jetliner. Less than a month after Boeing announced plans for a new $6 million research center and 400 engineering jobs in Huntsville, the International Association of Machinists accepted a contract offer from Boeing to produce the plane in Everett, Wash.

7. Mentone Springs Hotel: The iconic 130-year-old hotel and nearby White Elephant Antique Galleries were both destroyed by a massive fire March 1. Officials said a faulty electrical panel caused the blaze, which agencies battled for hours and was discovered after hotel guests heard a loud popping noise and saw smoke coming from upstairs. Owners Jim and Darlene Rotch have not announced future plans for the site, but are open to redevelopment ideas from the community.

8. Town Madison: Officials broke ground in early August on the $400 million Town Madison development, which reported will lead to new roads, an interstate interchange and 1.5 million square feet of commercial and retail space along Interstate 565 and Zierdt Road. The project, which will have 445 hotel rooms and 668 apartments, is expected to create about 1,600 jobs.

9. Stone Middle School: Construction on the vacant Stone Middle School in Huntsville began in September to prepare for two well-known local breweries and an outdoor concert amphitheater. The project will include a 40,000-square-foot brewery and taproom for Straight to Ale, a new 6,000-square-foot facility, bier garten and tasting room for Yellowhammer, and a large amphitheater for concerts and outdoor events.

10. CityCentre at Big Spring:

Formerly known as Big Spring Square, this $70 million mixed-use project will take over the shuttered Holiday Inn site near Big Spring International Park and Von Braun Center in downtown Huntsville. Phase I will include a new-to-market boutique hotel, 31,000 square feet of retail stores and restaurants, 53,000 square feet of office loft space and 200 multi-family apartments. Phase II will represent a $30 million investment with a 130-key urban hotel and 50,000 square feet of mixed-commercial and office loft space.

An architect's rendering of the proposed CityCentre at Big Spring, formerly known as Big Spring Square, at the corner of Williams Avenue and Monroe Street in downtown Huntsville. (Contributed by the City of Huntsville)