Huntsville angles to be America’s R&D hub for decades to come
The city of Huntsville has unveiled a new master plan to make Cummings Research Park one of the most advanced research and development hubs in the country.
The plans include a revitalization of the Research Park East area and will include new facilities for both corporate and start-up businesses, a number of new greenways, plazas, and activity hubs, as well as some new restaurants, retail shops, and even housing. The goal of the update is to attract new businesses to join the 300 companies and 29,000 employees that already call the park home.
“We turned it into something that has more of what people are asking for greenways, pocket parks, urban infields, areas that you’re going to have more density in the park,” said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. “When you put all those together, I think what you’re going to end up is a 21st-century park coming in.”
Cummings Research Park is currently the second-largest research park in the country and contributes over $280 million in state and local taxes. The park was originally founded almost 55 years ago but hasn’t been updated since the 1980s. The existing facility is at 87 percent capacity, so the new design will allow for more breathing room for existing companies and space for new groups to join.
The new design, which was started back in September, has officially been released, but now it must be approved by over a dozen stakeholder groups.
“Our plan is to spend June and July and part of August meeting with those stakeholders and getting that feedback so that we can modify the plan as needed,” said CRP Director Erin Koshut. “That gives us the time to look at those design guidelines and the writing of zoning ordinances, which will all have to take place as well.”
The new designs currently have no price tag attached. The design team focused on what updates were necessary for the park, and some things could change based on the approval process.
“We really didn’t want to let the budget drive our design,” said Koshut. “We wanted it to be the right fit for the park first and foremost, so now it’s a matter of coming up with okay, what does that look like in terms of cost.”
So far, the new designs have received positive reviews. Everyone involved hopes that the new plans will continue to bring new companies to Huntsville and make the city one of the top areas in the U.S. for research and development, said Koshut.
“Everybody’s really excited about what they saw today and really excited about what it means for the future of the park and that it was time to do something like this.”