Huntsville City Council approved a development agreement that would include a new nine-acre community green space in southwest Huntsville as part of a proposed mixed-use development across from Grissom High School. The development will also include the revitalization of the former Haysland Square Shopping Center along Memorial Parkway.
In the agreement, the City committed to spend $3.6 million to develop a public passive park as part of the proposed Hays Farm Village Center. In turn, the developer, Hylis Inc., an entity managed by the Hays family, agreed to donate a nine-acre parcel of land for the public green space project to the City, valued at $3 million.
The public space will feature a pond and walking paths, lighting, hardscapes and landscapes. It will be wrapped by approximately 200,000 square feet of retail, 50,000 square feet of office space, and 200 apartments. The development will also include an additional 200 single-family residential lots. Hylis plans to build the $140 million mixed-used development in phases. The project is expected to be at least 50-percent complete by December 2025
The City estimates the project will return at least $11.25 million dollars to the taxpayer within the first three years.
Urban and Economic Development Director Shane Davis says the green community space will look and feel much like Big Spring Park in a new urban setting.
“The City is pleased to provide new infrastructure that will offer both outdoor recreation opportunities to the public and assist in providing new live, work, and shopping opportunities to our community.” said Davis.
John Hays says the nine-acre public area is at the commercial core and is expected to spur entertainment and business development as well as offer a prime location to host year-round events for the community.
“Our family has been a part of Huntsville’s growth for more than 100 years. This land has been cultivated for generations,” said Hays. “When we began to look at creating a master plan for this site we, along with City leaders and our partners at Urban Design Associates, realized the need to incorporate an urban event park which would serve as the “nexus” of South Huntsville. This park will serve as the heartbeat of South Huntsville for generations to come.”
The development agreement with Hylis includes guarantees that the company meet specific construction benchmarks before the City builds the public community green.
District 3 Council Member Jennie Robinson says the value of the project to the community is on par with Mid-City. “I’ve often said this is the pebble in the pond and its ripples will be felt all along South Parkway,” she said. “This has been a blighted area and this will be a great development for South Huntsville.”
“The 850-acre Hays Farm development provides South Huntsville much-needed retail, restaurant, muti-family and single-family homes,” said Bekah Schmidt, executive director for South Huntsville Main. “We look forward to seeing the development around the park begin to come out of the ground and meet the needs of our growing community. We want to thank the City of Huntsville for their investment, as well as the Hays family for their generosity.”