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No, this isn’t like the Bermuda Triangle. To my knowledge, no one has ever gone missing here!
Here in Huntsville, Alabama we’ve had a few big economic developments in the past few years, to put it mildly. And as is my habit, I’m always reflecting on how cities grow: what that growth implies, what it looks like, and how it comes about. In looking downtown on Google Maps recently, I noticed what I’m calling the VBC Triangle.
The Von Braun Center (formerly called the Von Braun Civic Center or VBCC a few decades ago) was built in the 1970s on the western outskirts of downtown Huntsville and has since then found itself in the center of a westward and southward expansion of downtown. Among the many projects announced, underway, or completed are three rather unique projects near the VBC. They are unique due to their large size (both acreage and cost) and due to their embracing of mixed-use development. Mixed-use development, if that term is new to you, is where the development isn’t just an office building, hotel, stores or apartments, but rather as much mixing of activities as possible. Live-Work-Play is the mantra of such projects, and they do tend to be quite large. For instance the latest one announced will come in costing roughly a third of a billion dollars.
What are these projects?
The first large mixed-use project to be announced was Constellation, back in the early 2000s. Due to some unfortunate circumstances, it took a long to time to really get started past the first hotel, but it is currently in full swing of development now.
Next came City Centre, just south of the VBC. It is also in the midst of development in phase 2, with the Eclipse apartments, shops and parking deck.
The third announcement, just recently, was 514 Clinton Avenue. I predict folks will start calling it Clinton Commons, a name everyone sees in the architectural drawings labeled over the grand-looking entrance to the mews (pedestrian walkway) in the middle of the development. I think it just rolls off the tongue much easier than 514 Clinton Avenue.
These three mixed-use developments are all very close to the VBC, which isn’t a coincidence. As a matter of fact, these three mixed-used developments form a very symmetrical triangle around their raison d’être. Being symmetrical, they are also quite walkable between each other; I’m not sure I could really say any one of them is closer or farther way from the others. Check it out on Google Maps, where you see each of them as the big ‘dirt piles’ around the VBC at 11 o’clock, 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock: the VBC Triangle.