Montgomery Business Journal

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Reporter's Notebook

November/December 2013

STREETSCAPES

The Dexter Avenue Streetscape is expected to be completed by January 2015 while the Fairview Avenue Streetscape “is in process,” according to Mayor Todd Strange.

REVIVING COMMUNITY CENTERS

Montgomery County Commission Vice Chairman Dan Harris said there is a correlation of closing community centers and an uptick in youth violence. He said those closures are “leaving our young people with nothing to do and nowhere to go … so they end up doing things they shouldn’t be doing.”

The county is working with the city as well as with YMCAs, churches and social organizations to formulate a game plan.

POSSIBLE NEW TENANT

Just when city officials thought a national chain was ready to build a store at the old Sears site on West Fairview, the plans fell through, according to Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange. The retailer was looking at building a smaller store concept at the site, but decided against it. Now the local developer needs to buy some additional property for a full-sized store, placing the project on hold.

PLANNING FOR CIVIL RIGHTS ANNIVERSARIES

The city, in conjunction with the county, Alabama Department of Transportation, Montgomery Improvement Association, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Troy University, Alabama State University and local ministers, has begun the planning process to celebrate two Civil Rights Movement milestones.

Although the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery March and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the arrest of Rosa Parks are not until 2015 – Anita Archie, executive assistant to Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, said websites, marketing strategies, scheduling, capital improvements and fundraising are being discussed. Those capital improvements could include removing dilapidated houses, adding sidewalks and planting trees.

“We want to make sure that when the eyes are on Montgomery that we are actually making sure that the area tells a story and gives you a feel of what that march was about on that trail,” Archie said, referring to the 54-mile Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail.

“We want to make sure that everybody is sitting at the table,” Archie said.

Rep. John Knight (D-Montgomery) said, “We should be a showplace for how the Civil Rights Movement worked and have some examples to show.”

TOP 5 RANKING

Alabama was ranked the fourth best state for doing business, according to Area Development magazine. It marked the third straight year that Alabama was ranked among the top five states.

The rankings were based on 17 categories and Alabama was ranked in the top 5 in 15 of those categories, including the No. 1 ranking for competitive labor costs and No. 2 rankings for right-to-work environment and speed of permitting.

Alabama was ranked third in the following categories: overall labor climate; cost of doing business; competitive utility rates; most favorable regulatory environment; and incentive programs.

SPORTING EVENT

The city has attracted a major sporting event for 2014 and 2015 that will bring close to 250 teams to The Multiplex at Cramton Bowl. An announcement is expected soon.

HOT REAL ESTATE MARKET

Montgomery area residential sales soared 30.5 percent in August vs. the same period last year. Overall sales are up 17.3 percent through August compared to the same period in 2012.

Those numbers easily topped Huntsville/Madison County, where the monthly residential sales rose 8.2 percent and year-to-date sales have increased 10.5 percent. Baldwin County’s residential real estate sales for August increased 27.4 percent and year-to-sales gained 14 percent.

The August residential sales of 364 units were 57 units more than the forecast from the Alabama Center for Real Estate. The Montgomery area was ranked No. 1 in the state last year with residential sales up 12.1 percent.

Meanwhile, the housing supply fell from 8.8 months to 8.2 months. In another positive note, the median selling price in August increased 16 percent from last year, moving from $125,000 to $145,400.

FAVORABLE ECONOMIC CLIMATE

Although Alabama was not ranked among the Top 10 for states for economic development by Business Facilities magazine, the state was highly ranked in six categories.

Alabama received Top 10 rankings in the following categories: automotive manufacturing strength; automotive supplier networks; work force training; biofuels commercial production; most improved business climate; and economic growth potential.

NEW CONTRACTS

Caddell Construction Co. has recently been awarded four contracts, three of which are worth about $80 million.

The Montgomery-based company is in a joint venture with two other firms that will renovate the Headquarters Pacific Air Forces building at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, location. The three-story building is 550,000 square feet. The company was also awarded a contract for the design and construction of a 50,000-square-foot headquarters building at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.

Caddell, which has completed projects totaling more than $650 million at Fort Bragg, N.C., has a new contract to design and build two headquarters and company operations facilities. Each of the buildings will be nearly 58,000 square feet.

The fourth project is building a new, seven-story office annex at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.

ELANTRA SALES STAY HOT

Hyundai’s top-seller in the United States is the Elantra, which nearly hit the 200,000 mark for the year after 19,691 units were sold in September.

With 194,593 units sold in the first nine months of the year, the Elantra is less than 8,000 units shy of its all-time record of 202,034 vehicles sold last year and has already topped the 2011 total of 186,361 units with three months left in the year. The Elantra and the Sonata are produced at Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama’s facility in Montgomery.

Hyundai’s overall sales remain on record pace although the September sales of 55,102 units was 8 percent less than the same period last year. The Korean automaker has sold 548,218 units in the United States through September compared with 539,814 units for the first nine months last year.

RECORD-SETTING PACE

The Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama plant has surpassed 300,000 vehicles produced for a fourth straight year and through September had already eclipsed the 2010 total. The company produced 32,217 units in September – the eighth time in nine months in which it exceeded 30,000 vehicles. A record 361,348 vehicles were produced in 2012, which is just 51,406 units more than the first nine months of 2013. HMMA has produced about 15 percent more vehicles year-to-year through September. If HMMA matches the last three production months of last year, it will top the 400,000 mark in 2013.

SHOW US THE MONEY

The City of Montgomery and Montgomery County have passed their respective budgets. The city’s budget was about $229 million and the county’s budget was $96 million. Montgomery County Commission Chairman Elton N. Dean Sr. said the county budget includes some merit raises for county employees.

FILLING THE COFFERS

The city’s share of the lodging tax in Montgomery is being increased 1.5 percent and with the county passing a $2.25 per night fee both entities will see a nice raise in revenue. The city is expecting to net $1 million while the county is forecast to generate an additional $600,000.

CRIES FOR HELP

Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed said, “Every week – every week – since I’ve been on the bench – I’ve heard someone say they are hearing voices. They think people are watching them.”

He said that the county does not have enough resources to handle mental health patients, including a lack of psychiatrists, staffers and not having a pediatric mental health facility. Reed is advocating additional funding before the region experiences a tragedy similar to the deadly shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., where 13 people were killed including the gunman who suffered from mental health issues.

 

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