Button Up Your Overcoat

By Frances Akridge
City Council Representative
District 2

I’m humming an old-fashion tune these days to the sound of “Button up your overcoat, when the wind is free…take good care of yourself, you belong to me.”  It’s a catchy, sweet, jaunty tune and it brings a smile to my face as I look forward to warm March winds, anticipating April showers. The 1928 song also inspires me to take an old fashioned Sunday Drive, too, windows down, sun on my face.  

I invite you to do the same: travel to all corners of our city that you may not usually go. Explore! It’s a large footprint to cover: over 200 square miles, wider than Chicago. It’s exciting to witness the faith of all property owners making investments in our future, starting in our own neighborhood.  

Look for building permits on the door or the porta-potties (yes) in the front yard as evidence of reinvestment. There were 927 building permits issued for residential additions and alterations in 2020, an increase of 49.3 percent over 2019!  Neighborhoods that saw a large increase in renovation permits between 2019-2020 include Research Park, University Central, and Monte Sano.  

Then look for evidence of apartment complexes….lots of them. Investors in the private sector saw the need for this type of housing and they got busy in 2019 hiring civil engineers and going to the Planning Commission. As a result, the Commission approved 3,830 units across many sites in 2020! Some of them are underway, some are about to break ground. These sites are all listed in a compendium of great maps shown in the “2020 Development Review” on line as well as being listed in the GIS system: http://www.Maps.Huntsville.Gov

Of course, please drive downtown to make the rounds for a wow! factor. Fabulous offices, hotels, and new parking decks, too. From there, check out my favorite adaptive reuse sites: head due west on Governors to see StoveHouse or due north on Meridian Street to see Lincoln Mill. My favorite municipal projects are the Sandra Moon Complex, home to the new southernmost library and venue space; Johnson Legacy Center breaking all notions of a gymnasium; Dr. Robert Shurney Legacy Center home to the new northern library and outdoor recreation, and a renovated IcePlex.  

Let me know what you discover on your drive….and Button up your Overcoat, Take Good Care of Yourself! 

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