HUNTSVILLE, AL | August 30, 2023 -The city of Huntsville, an office park developer and the Department of the Army entered an agreement more than 10 years ago through an enhanced use lease on land at Redstone Arsenal to create a mixed-use office park.
The 468-acre Redstone Gateway – just outside Gate 9 — now has about 2.3 million square feet of space either built or under construction, according to James Lomax, the director of asset management and leasing for Corporate Office Properties Trust. A joint venture between Columbia, Maryland-based COPT and Montgomery-based Jim Wilson & Associates, LW Redstone LLC, is developing and managing the project.
With a mix of office buildings, retail and hotels, “It has a little bit of everything,” Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said last month at a Huntsville City Council meeting. The density of the development makes it “a real park,” he said. “This extends the life of (Cummings) Research Park,” probably extending the life of the second-largest research park in the country 10 to 12 years, according to Battle.
Shane Davis, the city’s director of urban and economic development, said the park provides an “economic advantage,” offering potential tenants the same types of amenities as the research park, but with a lease format.
Of Redstone Gateway’s 468 acres, “to date, 254 acres have been developed between the buildings and the roads and infrastructure (and) 214 acres remain undeveloped for future projects,” Lomax said.
The latest addition: the construction firm Robins & Morton and COPT have completed Redstone Gateway 8100, a five-story office building on Rideout Road that has 125,000 square feet of leasable space. It’s next to the five-story Northrop Grumman R&D campus buildings completed by Robins & Morton earlier this year and represents the fourth multistory tilt-wall building constructed by that Birmingham-based company in the office park since 2020.
“Additionally, we are finishing up a building behind the fence for the federal government, and are underway on 5300 Redstone Gateway, the future headquarters of Davidson Technologies,” Lomax said.
Boeing was the first tenant at Redstone Gateway, occupying space there in 2013, and remains a tenant today. Most recently, KBR has occupied its new office buildings, with a ribbon cutting planned for September.
The largest tenants are the federal government, Yulista, Northrop Grumman, KBR, and Boeing, according to Lomax. Amenities in the office park include TownePlace Suites by Marriott, Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott, Rocket City Tavern, Dipwich, Fiero Mexican Grill, and a coffee shop.
“The Army still owns the property,” Jake Roth, chief of master planning with the Garrison’s Directorate of Public Works, said. He explained that it is leased under the enhanced use lease program to a partner, which has the approval to build facilities and lease them to private entities to create a class A office park as a complement to Cummings Research Park.
Redstone Gateway – with its focus on technology and government contractors – “allows efficiencies through proximity to the federal workforce,” Roth said. “Additionally, the Army is able to make better use of underutilized property and collects a small fee that is tied to the success of the development overall.”
As part of the development agreement, the city of Huntsville created a tax increment financing district, called TIF 5, to pay for the public infrastructure projects in the district, which includes Redstone Gateway. In the TIF 5 district plan and development agreement, “we capped the city’s public infrastructure investment at $76 million,” Davis said at the July 27 council meeting.
A slide that Davis used to explain the background of the project showed that the costs of the improvements in the district are secured through warrants issued between the city and LW Redstone, with property tax collections generated in the district used to repay the warrant obligations.
The city has issued warrants for $73.7 million to cover the costs of the Redstone Gateway infrastructure improvements, including relocating and expanding Gate 9. The Huntsville City Council agreed at its July 27 meeting to provide the remaining $2.3 million for infrastructure needs at a secure area of Redstone Gateway.
“This will end our investment” in the project, Davis said.
Jim Myles, a retired major general who was the senior mission commander at Redstone from 2007 to 2010, said the idea of the office park came from former Garrison Commander John Olshefski, a retired colonel, and his staff around the end of 2008.
“The major effort was the creation of additional space for businesses who supported the missions of the agencies on Redstone,” he said. Although the economic downturn in 2011 to 2012 slowed the initial development, “the Redstone Gateway has met and exceeded my expectations.
“It has been essential to the growth of the Arsenal to have the capability that the Redstone Gateway provides to the multiple agencies on the Arsenal,” Myles said. “The description of the Arsenal mission at that time was summed up in this phrase: ‘Supporting the Soldier and Defending Our Nation.’
“The Redstone Gateway has been essential in allowing the Arsenal to continue to perform its critical mission to our nation today and into the future.”
Olshefski, the Garrison commander from June 2005 to July 2008, called James Wilson III, who was the CEO of Jim Wilson & Associates and died in March, his “brother in arms” in the project.
“We did envision this,” he said. “We envisioned it to be what it is today. … We really did see hotels. We really did see restaurants. We envisioned them coming.
“It’s world class,” he said.
This article was written by Marian Accardi for The Redstone Rocket. To view the original article, please visit: