Belk will close Madison Square Mall location after Bridge Street store opens in 2014 (updated)

Belk logo.jpgHUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Belk is closing its store in Madison Square Mall and casting its lot with the newer, trendier Bridge Street Town Centre.

The moves were announced Friday afternoon — less than 24 hours after the Huntsville City Council approved $4 million in utility and drainage improvements sought by the owners of Bridge Street.

Along with Belk, the outdoor shopping center says it will add 45,000 square feet of additional retail space and a large chain restaurant by March 31, 2015.

Most of the picturesque manmade lake on the west side of Bridge Street will be drained and filled to make way for the new shopping and dining. Only a tiny finger of water will remain near Connors Steak Seafood. The lake east of the pedestrian bridge will be left as is.

Bridge Street plans to add approximately 900 new parking spaces by turning the surface lot outside Red Robin Gourmet Burgers into a two-story garage. A new surface lot is planned for the grassy area behind Designer Shoe Warehouse.

“We are grateful to city leaders for embracing this expansion,” said John Neutzling, chief operating officer of Miller Capital Advisory. The suburban Chicago-based firm bought Bridge Street earlier this year on behalf of Institutional Mall Investors.

“We view Huntsville as a dynamic and growing community,” Neutzling said Friday, “and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with the city and the community.”

Institutional Mall Investors, or IMI, also owns Riverchase Galleria in Hoover.

Belk said its new Bridge Street store, targeted for a fall 2014 grand opening, will cost $20 million.

Jan Clevenger, who chairs Belk’s Birmingham-based western division, said the 170,000-square-foot store will offer “a fabulous new shopping environment featuring expanded selections of premier fashion merchandise with more brands and styles that our customers are looking for.”

Belk said its Madison Square Mall location will remain open until the Bridge Street store is ready. There are no plans to close the Belk in Parkway Place, which was remodeled last year.

Huntsville will spend a maximum of $4 million bringing utilities to the Belk site and installing an underground culvert to divert storm runoff to a city-owned lake nearby. The city is obligated to have those things done by July 1, 2013.

In addition to Belk, IMI promises to bring in a large sit-down restaurant new to the Huntsville market.

The contract also references a future expansion of Bridge Street that would include another 50,000 square feet of retail space or a second hotel. The 210-room Westin Huntsville opened at Bridge Street in April 2008.

Shane Davis, the city’s director of urban development, said Huntsville will pay for the utility and drainage work with proceeds from past Cummings Research Park land sales. Bridge Street occupies the southeast corner of the research park.

Mayor Tommy Battle said at Thursday’s council meeting that sales taxes on construction materials should net the city well over $1 million. Once the new stores and restaurant open, officials expect sales tax collections to jump $550,000 to $600,000 per year.

“A three- to four-year payback is kind of what we look for in these processes,” said Battle.

The council approved the development deal 4-0, with Culver, Bill Kling, John Olshefski and Mark Russell all in favor. Councilman Richard Showers left the meeting early and did not vote.

Updated at 6:28 p.m. with quotes from Belk executive Jan Clevenger, information on new Bridge Street parking, details on city’s development agreement with shopping center owner Miller Capital Advisory.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/09/belk_will_close_madison_square.html

Era ends at The Huntsville Times as longtime employees leave, paper moves to 3-day per week publication

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Friday was the last day of work for many Huntsville Times employees, and Monday is the first day for a new Alabama media company that includes both familiar and new faces in Huntsville and across the state.

The Huntsville Times buildingThe Huntsville Times converts to three days a week publication and a digital-first focus beginning Monday.

Alabama Media Group launches its new products and services Monday and immediately becomes the state’s largest media organization. It was created to provide news and information in the ways consumers increasingly seek it today: personal computers, tablets and smartphones, as well as newspapers.

The new company’s staff will post on al.com up-to-the-minute breaking news, sports, features and helpful information about events and activities, and it will publish three editions each week of The Huntsville Times, The Birmingham News and The Mobile Press-Register.

There will be no newspaper on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but a heftier Times – with expanded news, features and sports sections, more daily comics and your favorite puzzles from each prior day – will still appear in driveways and news racks on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Every day, journalists will post news on al.com as it happens, around the clock, and produce new and detailed reports for the three daily newspapers.

A reader’s guide to the new media company will be with Sunday’s Huntsville Times, including an introduction to the news team and details about subscribing and communicating with us in the new era. A guide to finding news on the new platforms will land on subscribers’ driveways Monday morning.

Taking Alabama Media Group live meant jobs ending and changing as the company’s digital-first focus moved daily production of the newspaper to three times a week and print production shifted from Huntsville to Birmingham.

A number of familiar bylines and photo credits will be missing beginning next week, and a number of support personnel and advertising representatives are also gone.

Across all three papers and al.com, about 400 employees received layoff notices and severance packages on June 12, after the new publishing schedule was announced by Advance Publications.

For those employees who left Friday and those going forward with the new company, Friday was the end of a historic era for The Huntsville Times.

“In our 102 years of continual daily publishing, The Times has provided award-winning coverage of everything from World War II to the space race to the devastating tornadoes last year. That is a credit to the type of staff we have here, including those people who are no longer with the company,” said Shelly Haskins, The Times’ city editor since 2003, who will be the managing producer for news going forward. “Our dedication to in-depth journalism that matters to North Alabama won’t change. We’ll just be delivering it to you faster and on the platforms that readers today prefer.”

Questions? Click here for an FAQ about the changes at The Huntsville Times and the launch of Alabama Media Group.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/09/era_ends_at_the_huntsville_tim.html

Belk is helping out cause for animals


belk pics 8-29-12 001.JPGThis Belk shopper enjoyed holding a Safe Haven kitten while in the store. (Submitted photo)

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama

– Safe Haven founder Melissa Utech was a little surprised when she received a call from an official with Belk at Madison Square Mall earlier this month asking her to take part in an educational event at the store.

While she is always looking for ways to get the message out about her nonprofit no-kill shelter in Jackson County, Utech was hesitant because it was scheduled at the same time she usually does adoptions at the PetSmart store on University Drive.

“I told her if we could bring our animals with us, we would do it,” said Utech.

The Belk official said OK so Utech and her volunteers loaded up several animals and set up shop inside the Belk store, much to the delight of many shoppers, including three who adopted a pet while there.

“It was just something different,” said Utech. “People would light up when they saw the animals. They said, ‘This is awesome.’”

Safe Haven is housing 90 animals, most in foster homes, and Utech is desperate to have more venues than just local pet stores where all of the clients already have one or more pets.

The next event is scheduled for Nov. 3, from 6-10 a.m., during Belk’s charity sale.

belk pics 8-29-12 008.JPGThis Safe Haven puppy is getting some extra love from a Belk shopper. (Submitted photo)

She hopes the events at Belk will become a regular event and said future dates will be posted on the organization’s website (safehavencatsanddogs.com).

Calls to Belk and Madison Square Mall were not returned.

Utech said many volunteers, foster homes and donations are needed to continue the work of finding animals homes.

“It’s all about saving as many animals as we can,” she said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/09/belk_is_helping_out_cause_for.html

Mobile’s Ashland Garage celebrating 100 years, in pictures

MOBILE, Alabama — When Wayne Holifield opens the bays at Ashland Garage Inc. on Monday morning, a little piece of history will pass far more quietly than the traffic speeding past on Old Shell Road.

For the complete story, click here.

Original Ashland Garage

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/09/ashland_garage_celebrating_100.html

Walgreen paid $1.4 million for land

REALESTATEONLINE.JPG

MOBILE, Alabama — Walgreen developers paid $1.4 million for almost 2 acres at the southeast corner of Spring Hill Avenue and Mobile Infirmary Boulevard, and plan to build a 15,000-square-foot store, according to Johnny Watson of Watson Realty, who represented the buyers. B.T. Roberts of Roberts Brothers Commercial Property Management worked for the sellers, Infirmary Health System. Aronov Realty in Montgomery has an option to purchase the southwest corner and has been talking with Publix Supermarket and other grocers to anchor a retail center there.

Local investors paid $1.6 million for a bank-owned, 43,180-square-foot industrial warehouse on almost 3 acres on Ala. 59 in Loxley, according to Nathan Cox of Bellator Realty Development, who represented the buyer, Gulf Coast Opportunities Fund LP. John Vallas of Vallas Realty worked for the sellers. The buyers plan to lease the building located 1.3 miles south of Interstate 10.

A local investor paid $230,000 for 82 bank-owned acres south of Southtown subdivision on Baldwin County 48 in Robertsdale, according to Bill Menas of Bellator Real Estate Development.

A private investor paid $165,000 for a 10-acre site on Magnolia Grove Parkway off Moffett Road next to The Legends in Magnolia Grove subdivision, according to Bob Cooper of Prudential Cooper Co. commercial division, who represented the seller. Leighton Dees of Better Homes Gardens worked for the buyer, who plans to develop residential lots.

LifeSouth Community Blood Centers plans to relocate to a 4,800-square-foot facility at 26125 Capital Drive in Daphne, according to Spence Monroe of Ashurst Niemeyer, who represented the tenant. Allan Cameron of Grubb Ellis/Peebles Cameron worked for the landlord.

Paradise Marine Center of Gulf Shores has leased a 1,400 square-foot building on U.S. 98 in Daphne near Baldwin County 64, and plans to open in early October, according to Joe Steen Real Estate Development. Paradise Marine also has a boat sales business on Ala. 59 in Gulf Shores.

Papa Murphy’s Take ‘N’ Bake Pizza will open in December in 1,200 square feet at 2370 Hillcrest Road in Hillcrest Plaza Shopping Center where a construction is under way on a Publix Supermarket, according to Angela McArthur of Prudential Cooper Co. commercial division, who worked for the tenant. David Dexter of White-Spunner Associates represented the landlord.

The Family Service Center of Catholic Social Services has leased 2,040 square feet of office space at 2402 U.S. 31 S. in Bay Minette, according to Sharon Wright of White-Spunner Associates.

Local contractor Jerry Lathan sold 50 of 313 acres off Kooiman Raod and Todd Acres Drive at absolute auction for $253,577, according to William Bone of The National Auction Group. There were eight registered bidders and Alabama Railroad Construction Co. bought most of the land, he said. The auction firm is working with several buyers on the remaining land near the Airbus plant site at Brookley Aeroplex.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/09/walgreen_paid_14_million_for_l.html

Evonik selects Mobile as possible site for multimillion dollar plant

evonik.jpgA building at the Evonik Degussa chemical plant, December 2008 in Theodore, Al. (Photo courtesy of Evonik)

MOBILE, Alabama — Specialty chemical company Evonik Industries AG today said it is launching an engineering study for a new multimillion dollar methyl methacrylate plant at its Mobile site, a project that could create about 100 new jobs if built.

Methacrylate monomers are used in products for lightweight construction and the automotive industry. The Evonik executive board last month authorized a basic engineering study to evaluate the site’s feasibility for a 120,000 ton per year facility, said Gregor Hetzke, head of Evonik’s performance polymers business unit.

“This is an important strategic decision for Evonik,” Hetzke said in a statement. “Mobile has an extremely friendly business climate, an excellent infrastructure and a world class port. This decision reflects our strong commitment to the Mobile site, our talented workforce there and the local community.”

If approved by the board, Evonik would start construction on the facility in 2013 and the plant would be online by mid-2015. Evonik officials said the plant would be located at the site of Evonik’s 750-employee facility in Theodore.

Based in Essen, Germany, Evonik makes a variety of chemicals at its Theodore plant, including those used in the production of pharmaceuticals, paper and chicken feed, among other uses.

“Being selected for the engineering study is terrific news for the Mobile community and for all our dedicated employees,” Bonnie Tully, Mobile site manager and vice president of Evonik North America, said in a statement. “Construction of a new plant would lead to the creation of nearly 100 new jobs and have a ripple effect throughout the local economy.”

Evonik officials said the company looked at more than 20 locations around the world for the MMA plant. Mobile was chosen as the final candidate for the basic engineering study and has been selected as the probable site.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2012/09/evonik_selects_mobile_as_possi.html

Crestwood Park officially reopens, as Birmingham Mayor William Bell stumps for support of bond initiative

Crestwood Park.JPGChildren play on the new playground at Crestwood Park this morning. (News photo/Dawn Kent)BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Birmingham city officials and residents of the Crestwood neighborhood turned out this morning to formally re-open Crestwood Park following a $2.56 million renovation project.

The park, which dates to the 1940s, was revamped over the past 10 months. It opened earlier this month, but an official ribbon-cutting was held today.

Improvements include new wildflower plantings, a children’s playground, a “tailgate lawn” for picnicking and updates to the pavilion, patio, pool, tennis courts and walking track.

Mayor William Bell and Councilwoman Valerie Abbott both called for support in the Oct. 9 referendum on a $150 million bond initiative for city projects, including parks, street improvements and economic development.

On the ballot, citizens will be asked for their support of bond money in different categories; if approved, the Birmingham City Council will decide specific projects.

Bell asked for support of the measure “so we can make sure Birmingham continues to grow and all of our parks look like this wonderful park.”

Whit Macknally of Macknally Land Design and Kris Nikolich of Design Initiative, both Crestwood residents, spoke about their firms’ work on the park.

Macknally said natural, strong and sustainable materials were used in the construction, so it would hold up amid frequent use. There also was a concerted effort — through flyers, emails and Facebook — to gauge residents’ opinions on the new features.

“Our whole design philosophy was to make it a reflection of its neighborhood,” he said of the park.

Sister Mary Oliver, secretary of the North Crestwood Neighborhood Association, gave an account of its history.

The city bought the land for the park, on Crestwood Boulevard, in 1946. Nothing happened until the early 1950s, when civic groups began collecting money for it.

The city got involved then, clearing land for the tennis courts, a baseball diamond and other features. Residents also pitched in, building barbecue pits and doing other work.

Years later, a grassroots effort in the neighborhood prompted the most recent renovations.

“This has been a neighborhood project since its  inception,” Oliver said. “From the beginning, it’s been a joint effort between the neighbors and the city.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/09/crestwood_park_officially_open.html

On the Move: Bruce Adams, Chris Hanback, Mark McIntyre and more

MOVES

Bruce Adams has joined Stewart Perry, general contractors, in senior management. He brings 30 years of experience in construction management with a focus on commercial, distribution and institutional projects.

• Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce said it has added Chris Hanback, Mark McIntyre and Thomas Busby to its commercial banking team in Huntsville.

Hanback is a senior vice president and commercial banking manager, and McIntyre and Busby are both vice presidents. They all previously worked for ServisFirst Bank.

Ashley Bishop and Josh Lawrence have been promoted to store managers at Hollywood Feed’s Cahaba Village and Lee Branch Shopping Center locations, respectively.

Bishop worked for Hollywood Feed at its Memphis headquarters for three years prior to her new role. Lawrence, a Birmingham native, joined the company as an assistant store manager in March.

Cahaba Media Group said Robert Ring has joined the editorial team of Construction Business Owner, a publication aimed at contractors. He will be the magazine’s associate editor.

BUSINESSES

Banc Statements Inc., based in Birmingham, said it signed contracts with two banks for its statement printing services. The new customers are First State Bank in Lineville and First Federal Bank in Lincolnton, N.C. Both have signed three year agreements.

APPOINTMENTS

Lane Finch, a member in Hand Arendall’s Birmingham office, has been named program chair of the DRI Insurance Coverage and Practice Symposium in December in New York.

DRI is the international organization of 22,000 lawyers defending the interests of businesses and individuals in civil litigation.

T. Rowe Price Group Inc., the mutual fund firm, said its board of directors has elected Birmingham native Mary K. Bush as an independent director of the company. Bush is president of Bush International LLC, which advises U.S. corporations and foreign governments on international capital markets and strategic business and economic matters.

FURTHERMORE

James C. Lee III, chairman and CEO of Buffalo Rock, has been named the March of Dimes 2012 Alabama Citizen of the Year.

Lee will be honored at a testimonial reception on Nov. 13 at BA Warehouse in Birmingham.

Lee and his group of Mission Chairs have set a goal of raising $325,000 for March of Dimes over the next few months.

Randy Martin Guarneri of Birmingham earned the designation of CFI-Certified Forensic Interviewer.

Guarneri passed a 15-part exam that tested his knowledge in a variety of areas.

• The “Best Lawyers in America” publication named Huie, Fernambucq Stewart LLP lawyer Clay Clark as its 2013 Birmingham Lawyer of the Year in the practice area of workers compensation law-employers.

Email announcements and JPEG photographs (150 KB minimum, with the file name including the person’s name) to biznews@bhamnews.com.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/09/on_the_move_bruce_adams_chris.html

O2 Ideas launches rebranding effort for Gateway

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — The crime happened around the end of the

workday. A man walked into the house with his suit coat on. He loos­ened his tie and took off his belt. Wrapping it up like a whip, he walked into the frightened teen­aged boy’s room and slammed the door.

GATEWAY_BELT.JPGA scene from one of the commercials in O2 Ideas’ rebranding campaign of Gateway, a nonprofit social services provider. (Special)

Then the camera breaks away. 

“For abused children, this isn’t a commercial. It’s their lives,” a narrator says.

The television spot is part of a new campaign and rebranding effort for one of Alabama’s larg­est nonprofit social services organizations — Gateway.

When someone thinks about Gateway, the computer brand often first comes to mind. But this gateway — a large, bland brick building thousands of Alabamians have surely seen on their way to the Birmingham-Shut­tlesworth International Airport – provides prevention, education, counseling and foster care services for nearly 20,000 people facing domestic abuse, neglect, violence, poverty or a mixture of many.

The campaign has been cre­ated by O2 Ideas, a Birmingham-based marketing communications firm. The commercials, billboards, website, revamped logo and banners are part of an effort to draw attention to Gateway’s services. The commercials, shot near New York City, were shot by Ben Richardson. Rich­ardson was director of photogra­phy for the 2012 film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

GATEWAY_FILMING.JPGA new series of commercials for Gateway are meant to tell the stories of who the Birmingham-based social services nonprofit serves and what the agency does. (Special)

Engaging viewers

Each commercial informs the public about Gateway and shows how viewers can help or be helped. Shelley Stewart, presi­dent and chief executive of O2 Ideas, said he hopes the cam­paign engages viewers as a witness. He said the TV spots con­vey how Gateway transforms lives of families in crisis.

“Gateway has been helping put lives and families back together for more than a century,” he said. “We’re glad to be one of the resources to help tell the story to the world. We at O2 Ideas would really hate to think of a world without gateway and we think that Birmingham is a better place because Gateway pursues its mission every day.”

Bill Todd, chief operating offi­cer of O2 Ideas, said he was fa­miliar with Gateway from growing up in the area and attending Gibson Elementary during the 1970s. He knew some of the Gibson students experienced domestic violence, parents with uncontrolled anger or financial difficulty, but that all happened out of site. He said the commercials allow viewers to imagine what’s behind closed doors and praised the agency for “stepping out” with a new campaign.

“I knew that I was more fortu­nate than the other kids, but I never knew the troubled nature of their past,” he said.

This is the first time Gateway has used TV commercials or banners, said Gateway CEO Jim Loop. It’s the most ambitious campaign the agency’s ever done, he said. Around 90 percent of Gateway’s $16 million annual budget is from state-funded con­tracts, with another 8 percent coming from United Way and the rest from other donations. As state money gets tight, the timing seemed right, he said.

“We felt like it was important that we be able to reach out to other people, organizations and say, ‘Hey, now is the time. We need the help. We’re a quality organization, whether you’ve heard of us or not.’ It’s a matter of reaching out to people we have not reached yet.”

Gateway was founded in 1891 by the Women’s Christian Tem­perance Union and originally called The Mercy Home. Back then, it provided social services to women and children in the Birmingham area. It was origi­nally based at the corner of 11th Ave. and 22nd St. North and in 1929 moved to its current home at 5201 Airport Highway. Mercy Home was renamed Gateway in 1968.

“The commercials just gave me goose bumps” Loop said. “They’re that powerful and had a hook on them that I had not thought about until I got to see them in action.”

Editor’s note: Total dollar amount of Gateway’s annual budget corrected.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2012/09/o2_ideas_launches_rebranding_e.html

Belk will close Madison Square Mall location after Bridge Street store opens in 2014 (updated)

Belk logo.jpgHUNTSVILLE, Alabama — Belk is closing its store in Madison Square Mall and casting its lot with the newer, trendier Bridge Street Town Centre.

The moves were announced Friday afternoon — less than 24 hours after the Huntsville City Council approved $4 million in utility and drainage improvements sought by the owners of Bridge Street.

Along with Belk, the outdoor shopping center says it will add 45,000 square feet of additional retail space and a large chain restaurant by March 31, 2015.

Most of the picturesque manmade lake on the west side of Bridge Street will be drained and filled to make way for the new shopping and dining. Only a tiny finger of water will remain near Connors Steak Seafood. The lake east of the pedestrian bridge will be left as is.

Bridge Street plans to add approximately 900 new parking spaces by turning the surface lot outside Red Robin Gourmet Burgers into a two-story garage. A new surface lot is planned for the grassy area behind Designer Shoe Warehouse.

“We are grateful to city leaders for embracing this expansion,” said John Neutzling, chief operating officer of Miller Capital Advisory. The suburban Chicago-based firm bought Bridge Street earlier this year on behalf of Institutional Mall Investors.

“We view Huntsville as a dynamic and growing community,” Neutzling said Friday, “and we look forward to a long and prosperous relationship with the city and the community.”

Institutional Mall Investors, or IMI, also owns Riverchase Galleria in Hoover.

Belk said its new Bridge Street store, targeted for a fall 2014 grand opening, will cost $20 million.

Jan Clevenger, who chairs Belk’s Birmingham-based western division, said the 170,000-square-foot store will offer “a fabulous new shopping environment featuring expanded selections of premier fashion merchandise with more brands and styles that our customers are looking for.”

Belk said its Madison Square Mall location will remain open until the Bridge Street store is ready. There are no plans to close the Belk in Parkway Place, which was remodeled last year.

Huntsville will spend a maximum of $4 million bringing utilities to the Belk site and installing an underground culvert to divert storm runoff to a city-owned lake nearby. The city is obligated to have those things done by July 1, 2013.

In addition to Belk, IMI promises to bring in a large sit-down restaurant new to the Huntsville market.

The contract also references a future expansion of Bridge Street that would include another 50,000 square feet of retail space or a second hotel. The 210-room Westin Huntsville opened at Bridge Street in April 2008.

Shane Davis, the city’s director of urban development, said Huntsville will pay for the utility and drainage work with proceeds from past Cummings Research Park land sales. Bridge Street occupies the southeast corner of the research park.

Mayor Tommy Battle said at Thursday’s council meeting that sales taxes on construction materials should net the city well over $1 million. Once the new stores and restaurant open, officials expect sales tax collections to jump $550,000 to $600,000 per year.

“A three- to four-year payback is kind of what we look for in these processes,” said Battle.

The council approved the development deal 4-0, with Culver, Bill Kling, John Olshefski and Mark Russell all in favor. Councilman Richard Showers left the meeting early and did not vote.

Updated at 6:28 p.m. with quotes from Belk executive Jan Clevenger, information on new Bridge Street parking, details on city’s development agreement with shopping center owner Miller Capital Advisory.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/09/belk_will_close_madison_square.html