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On the Front Row: Clinton Avenue development ready to go

HUNTSVILLE – After several years of sitting empty, the 11-acre property on Clinton Avenue across from the Von Braun Center will finally see dirt turned.

Essex Capital and Ascend Property Group announce the closing of $115 million in construction financing for Front Row, provided by Banco Inbursa and a group led by Keel Point and Opportunity Alabama.

Front Row’s $220 million first phase, in the heart of Huntsville’s evolving downtown core, is one of the largest and highly anticipated projects in the Southeast region, according to a news release.

The 11-plus acre mixed-use development will include 545 high-end residential units, office space, and retail space.

“Partnering with Crunkleton Associates, the leasing broker for the retail component, the teams are working to curate an unrivaled dining, entertainment, and commercial experience for the market,” the release said.

Construction will begin this month.

The development’s construction mirrors the city’s major growth initiatives within this district and beyond, sharing a similar timeline to other expansion projects nearby including the recently announced Riverwalk and the forthcoming pedestrian Skybridge which connects downtown with the Lowe Mill ARTS & Entertainment district.

Front Row is the result of planning with the City of Huntsville while navigating global challenges and holding fast to the needs of Huntsville’s current and future residents, the release said.

The Huntsville City Council approved the project’s three phases in June 2021. The city, at the time, said it will contribute $18 million toward the project, but not until the developer has started and/or completed its commitments.

Front Row said it credits Huntsville’s leaders with the city’s dynamic growth and the launch of this project.

Known officially as Big Springs Bottling, the former Coca-Cola bottling plant closed in 2012 and was demolished two years later. The property, which was listed for sale in 2016, has been identified as a “key site” in the City’s Downtown Master Plan, referred to as the “gateway to downtown.”

The empty parcel was the largest downtown property available for redevelopment. It also spans two blocks and fronts three public streets – Monroe Street and Clinton and Holmes avenues.

“This is a great opportunity to turn vacant property into new and unique places for people to eat, shop, stay the night and live,” Mayor Tommy Battle said in 2021. “It’s an exciting project that will attract citizens and visitors alike, which will benefit Huntsville for years to come.”

According to the news release, Front Row will consist of two six-story buildings housing the residential, office, and retail component with a central urban green space for outdoor dining, community activations, and public art. With construction beginning this month, the team is projected to deliver occupiable retail space in late 2025.

Apartments and office space are to follow and be move-in-ready by early 2026. Additional phases a boutique hotel, a Class A office tower, and luxury condos.

Front Row is a joint venture between developers Ascend Property Group and Essex Capital alongside affiliates of Silverstein Properties, Cantor Fitzgerald, and Arctaris Impact Investors. Other partnerships include Crunkleton Associates, exclusive leasing broker for the retail space, Torti Gallas + Partners, in collaboration with local firm Matheny Goldmon, as architects, ARCO/Murray as general contractor, and The VOREA Group providing construction oversight.

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