OXFORD — A consortium of developers and engineers revealed ideas for a convention center to the City Council Tuesday night, though any plans are in their infancy.
John Chambless, a Montgomery architect with Chambless King Architects, was joined by representatives from various Alabama development firms during the council’s pre-meeting work session. The team presented preliminary concepts for a multipurpose arena, hotel, convention center and space for retail and multi-family and senior living areas, while explaining their process for creating a feasibility study — a thorough examination of the viability of a development project, with evaluations of land suitability, economic impact and other data.
“The space creates challenges, but it also creates great opportunities,” said Steve Thomas, business development agent with Huntsville company CDG Engineers and Associates.
According to the presentation, the complex will be situated on a parcel of forested land along the east side of Alabama 21, just north of the Quintard Mall, with an elevation around 800 feet, according to the presentation. Suggested designs for the development have its multiple structures staggered in a line down the slope facing Mount Cheaha to the south, with each building’s view of the mountain unobscured by the next in line.
Councilwoman Charlotte Hubbard said she thought the view was a good detail.
“I think you’re capitalizing on something we’ve talked a lot about; we’re trying to be a destination for tourists,” Hubbard said. “And Cheaha is one of the most vital components of east Alabama.”
According to a timeline in the presentation, work on a feasibility study could begin Oct. 1 and finish in May, a 30-week process during which the seven involved companies, along with Oxford itself, would evaluate the site, perform an economic impact study and create a design for the project with the city.
The council did not appear to have already voted to authorize the project and cost wasn’t discussed during the meeting. Attempts to reach Council Chairman Chris Spurlin by phone after the meeting for confirmation were unsuccessful.
During the meeting, the City Council also:
— Rezoned property at 1605 Hillyer Robinson Parkway from general manufacturing to general business; at 164 Hugh Howell Road from general business to agricultural; and at 1611 Coleman Road from residential to general business.
— Authorized an agreement with East Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission for comprehensive computer mapping of the city as part of a Federal Highway Authority program. The city will pay a $8,000 local match toward the $40,000 total. The council also committed $152,535 to the commission for transportation services in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, including wheelchair-equipped vehicles on a fixed-route schedule.
— Appropriated $8,620.83 for World Changers, an organization that sends students on mission trips around the world, for supplies purchased from Oxford Lumber and Wise Environmental and used in the city to help low-income residents. Supplies included wood for porches and wheelchair ramps, and toilets.