John Q. Hammons, developer of Huntsville’s Embassy Suites hotel, dead at 94

John Q. Hammons.JPGView full sizeJohn Q. Hammons and then-Mayor Loretta Spencer meet with The Huntsville Times’ editorial board in July 2003. (Huntsville Times file photo) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – John Q. Hammons, the billionaire real estate tycoon who developed Huntsville’s Embassy Suites hotel, died Sunday in a Springfield, Mo., nursing home. He was 94.

The $40 million Embassy Suites overlooking Big Spring International Park is one of 210 hotel properties in 40 states operated by John Q. Hammons Hotels Resorts.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Hammons was set to build an Embassy Suites in Huntsville in 1994 — until then-City Council President Chuck Saunders reversed his vote on a deal that called for the Downtown Redevelopment Authority to borrow money to construct the hotel and lease it to Hammons. Hammons filed an $11 million breach of contract lawsuit against then-Mayor Steve Hettinger and the council; a federal jury later awarded him $547,515.

Following the court battle, city officials redoubled their efforts to attract a major downtown convention hotel. And Hammons kept the Rocket City on his radar.

Former Mayor Loretta Spencer said Hammons resurfaced in June 2003, a day after the city rejected eight possible hotel deals as too expensive.

“He called us and said, ‘How would you like for me to come down and talk about putting an Embassy Suites in your town?’” Spencer said Tuesday.

Hammons flew to Huntsville the following week, and Spencer invited him to lunch at her house on Monte Sano. She recalls serving chicken salad, fruit salad and a vegetable salad, along with chocolates for dessert.

“He told me he had never been invited into a mayor’s home for a meal,” said Spencer. “It was unusual for him, but I thought we needed informal conversations to start with.”

Embassy Suites Huntsville.JPGView full sizeHuntsville’s $40 million Embassy Suites hotel opened next to the South Hall of the Von Braun Center in November 2006. (Huntsville Times file photo) 

That luncheon sowed the seeds for what would become Huntsville’s Embassy Suites. Spencer said the deal, which included a Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and climate-controlled walkway connecting the hotel to the South Hall of the Von Braun Center, was hammered out in just three weeks.

The 300-room Embassy Suites opened on Nov. 1, 2006, and quickly became one of the most successful hotels in Hammons’ portfolio.

While Hammons moved on to other deals in other cities, he and Spencer kept in touch. He sent her flowers every Mother’s Day; she sent him “loud ties” for his birthday.

“He was always interested in another location here,” said Spencer. “He loved Huntsville and was so pleased with how (the Embassy Suites) operated.”

Hammons, who shunned big cities in favor of college towns and state capitals, also developed the Embassy Suites in downtown Montgomery.

“He would say, ‘The kids will always go to school, and you can’t fire the damn politicians,’” former John Q. Hammons Hotels Resorts executive Scott Tarwater said in a March 2011 interview.

Click here to read the Kansas City Star’s news obituary on Hammons.

Follow me on Twitter: @swdoyle

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/05/john_q_hammons_developer_of_hu.html

Health Source Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab fundraiser pays for new AmTrykes

Amtryke child.JPGRebecca Calloway and her son, Christian Calloway, with Dr. Amanda Gilbert, clinic director of Health Source Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab Office Hampton Cove office, show off Christian’€™s new AmTryke. (Contributed photo/HTV AMBUCS) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Donations from Health Source
Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab have allowed Huntsville Tennessee Valley
AMBUCS to provide new AmTrykes for areas residents.

Health Source’s Athens, Harvest and Hampton Cove offices
raised $1,500 in November and December of last year. The money allowed
Huntsville Tennessee Valley AMBUCS to purchase three new and one renovated
AmTryke bikes.

AmTrykes are therapeutic tricycles designed for children,
adults and veterans with disabilities. Since 2009, Huntsville Tennessee Valley
AMBUCS, part of the national AMBUCS organization, has provided more than 165
AmTrykes to people in North Alabama.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/05/health_source_chiropractic_and.html

Belk Hudson Lofts owner Charlie Sealy proposes $30M retail-apartment-office development in downtown Huntsville

Belk Hudson LoftsView full sizeCharlie Sealy III and his wife, Sasha, pose in front of their Belk Hudson Lofts apartment building in June 2012. The $12.5 million project opened in October, bringing 75 new apartments downtown. (Eric Schultz | eschultz@al.com) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – Barely six months after opening the Belk Hudson Lofts apartment building on Washington Street, Charlie Sealy III is working on something even bigger downtown.

Sealy confirmed Thursday that he is in active negotiations with Huntsville officials to build a more than $30 million mixed-use development on the site of a city parking lot at Jefferson Street and Holmes Avenue, across from the federal courthouse.

The preliminary design shows 20,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space at street level with as many as 120 apartments above, a four- or five-story office building, wide sidewalks, heavy landscaping, public art and garage parking for 400 vehicles.

“I’m really excited about this and looking forward to moving it ahead,” said Sealy, who is teaming up with his wife, Sasha, and several unnamed business partners on the project.

“Jefferson Street is one of the main gateways into downtown,” he said. “With its proximity to the entertainment district and the Courthouse Square and Big Spring Park, it’s an ideal location for a mixed-use development that I think would really be well-received by the market.”

Several months ago, city officials invited developers to submit ideas for the 2.6-acre asphalt and gravel parking lot at the corner of Jefferson and Holmes. Sealy’s proposal was deemed the best.

Mayor Tommy Battle said the city and Sealy are in the process of “trying to work through the legal aspects so we can come to a development contract.”

“The contract would either give him an option to purchase the property or a long-term lease,” Battle said last week. “We’re still negotiating that.”

Sealy said he hopes to have the negotiations wrapped up in the next three to four months. If the Huntsville City Council OKs the deal, blueprints and other plans would take up to nine months. Construction would start next summer, said Sealy.

“We’re really a firm believer that the progress of a downtown is largely dependent on getting people living there,” he said. “Getting more of a critical mass down there will really help everything. I think this will be a great development for downtown.”

The site currently has 130 paved parking spaces used by city Community Development employees and various downtown businesses, including the Siniard, Timberlake League law firm. Battle said Sealy would be required to provide 72 public parking spaces.

Sealy’s $12.5 million Belk Hudson Lofts project turned part of the old Belk Hudson department store into 75 sleek urban apartments. Open since October, it was the first new rental housing built downtown in more than a generation.

Sealy’s grandfather, the late Charlie Sealy Sr., started an apartment business in Tuscaloosa in 1955 that now manages about 8,000 apartments in Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina, including 2,300 in Huntsville.

Last month, Sealy Management Co. proposed a $20-$25 million mixed-use development at the corner of 28th Avenue and University Boulevard in Tuscaloosa. It is expected to include 168 one- and two-bedroom apartments and more than 5,000 square feet or retail and restaurant space.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/05/belk_hudson_lofts_owner_charli.html

Chief of Naval Operations: Sequestration will not affect Austal’s existing LCS and JHSV contracts


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Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle (L) and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert, discuss sequestration and how it will affect Austal’s Mobile shipyard, Feb. 22, 2013 in Mobile, Ala. (al.com/ Ellen Mitchell)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — Sequestration cuts will not affect Austal USA’s 10-ship, $1.6 billion joint high-speed vessel contract with the U.S. Navy, nor will it affect its contract to build five 127-meter littoral combat ships, according to Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Johnathan Greenert.

During a tour of the Austal USA shipyard in Mobile today, Greenert said sequestration cuts will not affect projects that are already under contract, including Austal’s JHSV and LCS Navy deals.

“Sequestration will impact every single program; it requires a cut in every budget line,” Greenert said. “However, all those ships here that are under contract will not be affected, but we’ll have to move some money within the program line.”

Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle said Austal is optimistic that it’s providing a low cost
solution to the Navy, and does not expect any job cuts from
sequestration in regards to Austal’s existing Navy contracts.

“All
of our focus right now is delivering a great quality product to our
customer and that’s what we can control,” he said. “We’re confident,
based on the feedback that we’re getting from our customer, that we’re
stable on the contracts we have going forward.”

Standing alongside Perciavalle, Greenert addressed sequestration concerns, recent LCS criticisms and the future of the Navy’s partnership with Austal.

In a Bloomberg article released this week, critics inside the Navy referred to the LCS as the “Little Crappy Ship.” The article also discussed the debate over how vulnerable the LCS may be to attack, and cited numerous problems with the newly built vessels, including a six-inch crack in the hull of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s USS Freedom that had to be repaired, and “aggressive” corrosion in the propulsion area of Austal’s USS Independence.

Greenert said despite the LCS coming under fire recently for its design and cost, he’s looking forward to the Navy’s use of the ship.

“The Freedom and the Independence have proven their worth for the design of the ship,” he said. “Some folks felt that the ship should be used for missions or for capabilities which it frankly will not do. Some folks will put it in a situation and say ‘it’s not made for this, it won’t do well in this.’ I would acknowledge that.”

Greenert went on to say that the Navy has intentions to operate the ship in conjunction with other, larger ships, so he’s very optimistic that the ship will do well.

Lockheed Martin Corp., based in Bethesda, Maryland and Austal Ltd., based in Henderson, Australia, build two separate versions of the LCS. The dual sets of ships were meant to get them built faster, at a rate of four a year rather than two a year.

Lockheed makes a steel-bodied version in partnership with Marinette Marine Corp., at Marinette’s yard in Marinette, Wis., while Austal makes an aluminum version in partnership with Falls Church, Va.-based General Dynamics Corp. under a 10-ship, $3.5 billion contract. The estimated price to build each LCS is $440 million.

The LCS is intended to perform missions such as destroying mines, hunting submarines, interdicting drugs and providing humanitarian relief.

“As a customer, I’m here to check out the wares that we buy,” Greenert said of his shipyard tour. “I’m very impressed with what I’ve seen. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve got a lot of capacity for future building.”

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/chief_of_naval_operations_sequ.html

Alabama State Port Authority: Shipping report for Feb 24


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The MSC LAURA docks at APM Terminals Mobile, June 4, 2012 in Mobile, Ala. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama State Port Authority)


 

MOBILE, Alabama — The Alabama State Port Authority provides its weekly port activity report, including ship departures and arrivals for the next week.

Departure and arrival dates, vessel name, berth, destination and cargo are provided below. Look for the report here on al.com each Sunday.

Arrivals:

Feb. 23: OSTENDE MAX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 23: INTERLINK ACUITY; ASD PIER SOUTH D 1; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 24: STAR EAGLE; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; PANAMA CITY; GENERAL CARGO

Feb 24: AM CONTRECOEUR; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; SWINOUJSCIE, PL; BULK CARGO

Feb 24: MSC JORDAN; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: MSC BARCELONA; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; ANTWERP, BE; CONTAINER

Feb. 24: LIJUN C; ASD SOUTH B 2; KINGSTON, JM; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: BBC ROMANIA; ASD PIER 5; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 25: LETO; ASD MCDUFFIE; IMMINGHAM, GB; BULK CARGO

Feb. 25: SPIEGELGRACHT; ASD RIVER END C; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: BANDA SEA; ASD RAIL FERRY RAMP; COATZACOALCOS, MX; RAIL

Feb. 26: OCEAN BEAUTY; ASD NORTH A 2; NEW ORLEANS; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: STELLA BECRUX; ASD MCDUFFIE 2; CONSTANTZA, RO; BULK CARGO

Feb. 26: THOR; ASD PINTO ISLAND; UNKNOWN, US; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 26: SEA-LAND EAGLE; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Feb. 26: MALTE B; ASD PIER 5; ORANJESTAD, AW; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: STAR EPSILON; ASD NORTH A 2; GENERAL CARGO

Feb. 27: MARITIME SUZANNE; ASD LIQUID BULK TERMINAL ; NEW ORLEANS; BULK CARGO

Feb. 27: LATMAR; ASD NORTH A 2; BROWNSVILLE-CAMERON COUNTY; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: ALBION BAY; ASD PIER 2 – CONTAINER BERTH; HOUSTON; GENERAL CARGO

March 1: CMA CGM NEW JERSEY; APM TERMINALS MOBILE; MIAMI; CONTAINER

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/alabama_state_port_authority_s.html

Mobile business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



Read the latest Mobile business news at al.com/business/mobile, or read all our business news at al.com/business.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/press-register-business/2013/02/mobile_business_news.html

Books-A-Million sees dollars in ducks, will sell "Duck Dynasty" merchandise


DuckCommander.jpg

The Duck Commander display that will be installed in Books-A-Million stores. (Special)

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Things are just ducky at Birmingham-based Books-A-Million Inc.

The bookstore chain today announced that its stores will sell more than 40 items from Duck Commander, the line of goods associated with the popular reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”

Camo store displays will be stocked with DVDs, books, t-shirts, hats, key chains and other novelties. The displays also will include duck calls, the product that made the extended Robertson family wealthy and ultimately got them on television.

The show, which is AE’s highest-rated program, follows the antics of the unconventional Louisiana family and its business. The show’s popularity led to the extended Duck Commander product line. On the Duck Commander website duck calls range in price from $24.95 to $179.95.

Jeff Skipper, Books-A-Million vice president of marketing, said the push to sell Duck Commander merchandise is in response to explosive demand.

“We saw a tremendous amount of interest in all things “Duck” during the holiday selling season,” he said in a prepared statement. “Our team made the decision to create a custom, in-store display so that we could give our customers a one-stop-shop for all their favorite Duck Commander gear.”

The displays will be installed in all Books-A-Million stores before the television show begins its third season on Wednesday, the company said.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/books-a-million_sees_dollars_i.html

Friday recap: The week’s Alabama business news in review

Alabama business news you may have missed this week:

J.D. Power and Associates releases its 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study.

Best Buy to extend its price matching guarantee to major online competitors.

Communications experts dissect Carnival Cruise Lines’ response to the Triumph debacle.

Vulcan Materials begins blasting on Gurley Mountain.

A Montgomery auto dealer is named vice chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association.

The Department of Defense considers an alternative to sequestration that would reduce civilian employees’ pay and hours by 20 percent.

HealthSouth saw a 6.7 percent increase in full-year revenue in 2012, generating $2.16 billion in business over the 12-month period.

Mobile’s Brookley Aeroplex eagerly awaits the addition of new tenant Airbus.

Work begins on the new Birmingham School of Law.

Investors with Audley Capital Advisors accuse Walter Energy’s leaders of having mismanaged the company.

International Shipholding is preparing a $25 million stock offering.

Lesley McClure, regional executive at the Atlanta Fed’s Birmingham Branch, sees strength in the state’s auto industry.

Alabama’s brewing industry has doubled in size each of the last three years, a new report shows.

AirWalk, a new extreme trampoline arena in metro Birmingham, draws thousands.

Office Depot is set to acquire OfficeMax, a move that may accelerate the closing or selling of stores. The retailers have a combined 32 stores in Alabama.

Alabama’s second annual sales tax holiday for severe weather gear kicks off Friday.

Walmart plans to hire 175 people for two of its Neighborhood Markets opening in Decatur and Florence.

How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Huntsville is celebrating National Engineers Week.

The Mobile Boat Show kicks off Friday as optimism is again running high in the marine manufacturing industry.

Alabama’s economy supports slightly fewer jobs than it did at the start of 2000. But non-manufacturing jobs have increased.

BAE Systems Ship Repair in Mobile will avoid layoffs.

First Watch, a Bradenton, Fla.-based restaurant chain, is headed for Birmingham.

Winn-Dixie is moving into a space in Inverness Corners vacated by Bruno’s market.

There was a leadership shuffle at Mobile’s White-Spunner Construction Inc.

Express Oil Change Service Center, a Birmingham-based company with operations in 12 states, acquires Tire Engineers.

Ignite Fitness, a Crossfit affiliate, is expanding in Vestavia Hills.

Cahaba Brewing and Hop City unite to make beer backing home brewing law.

Mercedes plant gets a new boss, but it’s a familiar face.

Knology buyer Wow! investing and rebranding in North Alabama.

Divided Birmingham Water Works Board approves $145 million bond deal.

Airbus plant, along with expanding training and infrastructure programs, cited as progress for Accelerate Alabama.

Regions CEO Hall to assume chairmanship in May.


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Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/friday_recap_the_weeks_alabama_1.html

Birmingham business news has moved to a new location on AL.com


We've Moved (Blogs)



 To get the latest Birmingham-area business news, please visit al.com/business/birmingham. For more business news, visit al.com/business.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, you can find the new feed here.

Article source: http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2013/02/birmingham_business_news_has_m.html

John Q. Hammons, developer of Huntsville’s Embassy Suites hotel, dead at 94

John Q. Hammons.JPGView full sizeJohn Q. Hammons and then-Mayor Loretta Spencer meet with The Huntsville Times’ editorial board in July 2003. (Huntsville Times file photo) 

HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – John Q. Hammons, the billionaire real estate tycoon who developed Huntsville’s Embassy Suites hotel, died Sunday in a Springfield, Mo., nursing home. He was 94.

The $40 million Embassy Suites overlooking Big Spring International Park is one of 210 hotel properties in 40 states operated by John Q. Hammons Hotels Resorts.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Hammons was set to build an Embassy Suites in Huntsville in 1994 — until then-City Council President Chuck Saunders reversed his vote on a deal that called for the Downtown Redevelopment Authority to borrow money to construct the hotel and lease it to Hammons. Hammons filed an $11 million breach of contract lawsuit against then-Mayor Steve Hettinger and the council; a federal jury later awarded him $547,515.

Following the court battle, city officials redoubled their efforts to attract a major downtown convention hotel. And Hammons kept the Rocket City on his radar.

Former Mayor Loretta Spencer said Hammons resurfaced in June 2003, a day after the city rejected eight possible hotel deals as too expensive.

“He called us and said, ‘How would you like for me to come down and talk about putting an Embassy Suites in your town?’” Spencer said Tuesday.

Hammons flew to Huntsville the following week, and Spencer invited him to lunch at her house on Monte Sano. She recalls serving chicken salad, fruit salad and a vegetable salad, along with chocolates for dessert.

“He told me he had never been invited into a mayor’s home for a meal,” said Spencer. “It was unusual for him, but I thought we needed informal conversations to start with.”

Embassy Suites Huntsville.JPGView full sizeHuntsville’s $40 million Embassy Suites hotel opened next to the South Hall of the Von Braun Center in November 2006. (Huntsville Times file photo) 

That luncheon sowed the seeds for what would become Huntsville’s Embassy Suites. Spencer said the deal, which included a Ruth’s Chris steakhouse and climate-controlled walkway connecting the hotel to the South Hall of the Von Braun Center, was hammered out in just three weeks.

The 300-room Embassy Suites opened on Nov. 1, 2006, and quickly became one of the most successful hotels in Hammons’ portfolio.

While Hammons moved on to other deals in other cities, he and Spencer kept in touch. He sent her flowers every Mother’s Day; she sent him “loud ties” for his birthday.

“He was always interested in another location here,” said Spencer. “He loved Huntsville and was so pleased with how (the Embassy Suites) operated.”

Hammons, who shunned big cities in favor of college towns and state capitals, also developed the Embassy Suites in downtown Montgomery.

“He would say, ‘The kids will always go to school, and you can’t fire the damn politicians,’” former John Q. Hammons Hotels Resorts executive Scott Tarwater said in a March 2011 interview.

Click here to read the Kansas City Star’s news obituary on Hammons.

Follow me on Twitter: @swdoyle

Article source: http://blog.al.com/breaking/2013/05/john_q_hammons_developer_of_hu.html