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Mill Creek revitalization meetings with Huntsville officials ‘productive’

HUNTSVILLE — More access to public transportation and fresh, affordable food.

More children’s services, including mentorship, play areas and a safer environment.

Those are among suggestions made at recent community meetings with officials from the City of Huntsville and Huntsville Housing Authority regarding plans for the Mill Creek development.

(City of Huntsville, Alabama)

Mill Creek is the city revitalization project that is replacing the former housing at Butler Terrace, Butler Terrace Addition and Johnson Towers. The area is largely behind Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment on Seminole Drive and extends west. 

“The meetings were productive, and we received some valuable feedback from the public,” Huntsville’s Manager of Community Development Scott Erwin said. “This is a transformational project that presents myriad positive opportunities for residents as well as private investors.”

The public meetings were attended by representatives of project designer Urban Design Associates and Urban Strategies Inc., a St. Louis-based group that will work with residents on housing stability and economic mobility as well as education and health opportunities.

About 75 people attended three public meetings, which provided information about the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI), a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development program shaping the redevelopment.

According to the city, a goal of the public meetings was to refine the CNI plan, specifically regarding the three main objectives:

  • Housing: Redevelop public housing into mixed-income housing and provide a 1:1 replacement for HHA residents;
  • People: Support positive outcomes in health, employment and education for affected residents; and
  • Neighborhoods: Increase access to trails, parks, transportation services, economic development and amenities.

Stakeholders can now finalize strategies that will be part of a federal CNI grant, to be submitted by Dec. 11. Grant recipients are eligible to receive up to $50 million.

The neighborhood has long struggled with poverty and disenfranchisement. Mills Creek will take about 10 years to be completed and it will be three years before residents begin moving into the planned 750 mixed-income units, as well as an updated street plan and at least one new park.

“The community should appreciate and support the promise of housing stability and access to education and health services for underserved members of our community,” HHA Executive Director and CEO Antonio McGinnis said. “This project has the potential to set a new standard in Huntsville for what a successful neighborhood looks like.”

Tonight, the Huntsville City Council will take up these agenda items related to Mill Creek at its regular bi-monthly meeting:

  • Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into a Professional Services Agreement between the City of Huntsville and Robert Charles Lesser & Co., for the purpose of updating the Mill Creek Area Market Study.

  •  Resolution authorizing the Mayor to submit a grant application on behalf of the City of Huntsville for the Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant.

  • Resolution authorizing the Mayor to enter into an Agreement between the City of Huntsville and Urban Strategies Inc., to perform Application Services for the Choice Neighborhood Implementation Grant Application.

 Another round of public meetings are scheduled for the week of Nov. 6.

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