Tuscaloosa on track to approve $42M downtown riverfront development

Tuscaloosa on track to approve $42M downtown riverfront development

By Chris Pow
on April 02, 2013 at 11:30 PM, updated April 03, 2013 at 11:58 AM


TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — The Tuscaloosa City Council is one step away from approving a proposed $42 million mixed-use development on the riverfront in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Following a public hearing Tuesday night, the City Council voted unanimously to direct City Attorney Tim Nunnally to prepare an ordinance to approve the  development plan for Riverfront Village at next week’s council meeting.

The $42 million development, planned for the former Tuscaloosa Chevrolet site at the corner of Greensboro Avenue and Jack Warner Parkway, would total 192,411 square feet for residential units and 38,482 square feet of commercial space across five buildings as currently planned.

The residential component would feature 202 rental units with 438 beds and five three-bedroom townhomes. The retail space is planned to be divided into units from 800-4,000 square feet to accommodate boutiques and shops, larger stores and restaurants.

Plans call for a total of 602 on-site parking spaces, including 182 on the street and remaining spaces in a parking deck for tenants.

Atlanta-based developer Chance Partners spent about nine months reviewing zoning codes and development plans, gathering community input and meeting with city and Chamber of Commerce officials while planning the project.

In designing Riverfront Village, developers worked to meet a series of stricter riverfront development rules passed by the City Council after a previous proposal for the site was denied by the council. The plan by development company Carter proposed a mixed-use development with 9,000 square feet of commercial space and a four-story student-oriented apartment complex comprised of 854 bedrooms. It was voted down 4-2 by the City Council in February 2012.

The City Council later amended the Riverfront Development Zone rules to require a minimum of 20 percent of space to be commercial and cap the number of bedrooms per acre at 60 and the number of bedrooms per apartment at three.


The Tuscaloosa Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended that the council approve the company’s requests to subdivide and develop the site on March 18.

Christopher Kritzman of Chance Partners said his firm put an emphasis on the community aspect of the property, an approximately seven-acre site along the Riverwalk recreational trail and just east of the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater.

Tuscaloosa City Councilman Lee Garrison, a longtime proponent of development along the Black Warrior River, said he appreciated the thought that the developers put into planning Riverfront Village to go next to the amphitheater, the Bank of Tuscaloosa building and other recent developments along the riverfront.

“I believe that when we started the riverfront committee that Mary Ann Phelps chaired 10-12 years ago, that’s what we wanted to see,” Garrison said. “It’s just an incredible day, in my opinion, for Tuscaloosa. This is going to be another incredible project for our community.”

Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama president and CEO Jim Page told the council that the high quality residential units would help retain young professionals and that the retail space would help efforts to recruit new-to-market retail for area.

Kritzman has said the design, intended to foster connectivity and openness, maintains views by varying the heights of buildings, has no fences outside of a parking deck gate, complements downtown and creates an urban, walkable community.

The company, which has tracked the growth of the city’s population and the University of Alabama, is targeting young professionals, young married couples, empty-nesters and UA graduate, law and undergraduate students for its residential units, Kritzman said.


Kritzman told the council that Chance Partners is also actively seeking a hotel for the development.

The economic impact of construction has been estimated at $19.8 million in local income, $1.95 million in local taxes and 268 construction jobs, Kritzman said. The residential component would annually bring in about $4.6 million in local income, generate $800,000 in taxes and other revenue and create 65 jobs, but those numbers will increase with commercial tenants, Kritzman said.

Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox said he appreciated the fact that the company looked back at community input on the previous proposal in planning its project and that the development could help turn the Jack Warner Parkway and Greensboro Avenue intersection into a more pedestrian area.

“I think the thing that impressed me the most throughout this process is you understood the unique public perspective of that piece of property,” Maddox told Kritzman during the hearing. “The fact that the taxpayers had invested with the amphitheater, invested in the Riverwalk — taxpayers have made significant contributions that now give this piece of property the chance to be more successful.”

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