We are experiencing enormous growth and development in residential housing, recreation, sporting events, cultural opportunities, restaurants, night life, downtown renewal, new and expanding industries, and retail. Since 2005, Tuscaloosa has experienced over $3 billion in new construction to meet the increasing demands of our growing economy. Downtown redevelopment alone represents an investment of over $300 million!
Phase I of the downtown redevelopment (2005-2012) included a new federal building, five-acre Government Park, Intermodal Facility featuring 450 free parking spaces, Tuscaloosa Amphitheatre with 7,500 seating capacity, multiple streetscaping projects, development of the Riverwalk and a multi-use River Market complex with offices for the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission.
More recently, downtown redevelopment phase II included two downtown hotels with 270 rooms, multiple residential projects with over 800 bedrooms and 60,000 square feet of retail space. When completed in 2015, the downtown will be alive with an average of 1,300 additional people spending the night there each night. Robust restaurant and retail growth will certainly continue for years to come.
Within a one-mile walking distance of downtown, the University of Alabama enrolled more than 36,000 students in the fall semester of 2014 and became one of the largest universities in the southeast. Home to the 2009, 2011 and 2012 National Football Champions, the University of Alabama’s Bryant-Denny Stadium has a seating capacity of 101,821. Alabama Football games are consistently sold out and average a $17 million economic impact each home game.
While the University of Alabama continues to be the largest employer in the region, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) is the largest private sector employer. Tuscaloosa remains the company’s only factory in the United States. From a 1.1 million square foot facility built in 1995, it will soon expand to 6.4 million square feet with a capacity of producing 350,000 cars per year. Over 8,000 people go to work on the MBUSI site every day and the local automotive supplier base continues to expand.
Our local leaders realize that a healthy economy is essential to our overall well-being. The success of business means jobs for citizens, a healthy tax base, and a community that is attractive to new industry, commercial development, and persons seeking to host meetings and events, or to relocate. With this in mind, the City of Tuscaloosa created an economic development assistance policy for eligible public infrastructure and site development assistance for eligible developments.
Named as one of the top 100 Small Art Communities in the U.S., “old towne” Northport, just across the Black Warrior River from downtown Tuscaloosa, offers an inviting atmosphere to window shop, browse and dine. Northport has been recognized as one of the fastest growing small cities in Alabama.
In April 27, 2011, a tornado did significant damage in Tuscaloosa by destroying 12% of the City, including damage to one of our major retail corridors. Showing remarkable resilience, we have recovered from that storm better than ever with new, attractive venues for retail expansion. So far, there has been over $160 million in private investment in the storm-recovery zone and more than 400,000 square feet of new retail will be entering the market.
Al Spencer Vice President, Economic Development and Public Policy (205) 391-0329 email@example.com