Construction is set to start in September to begin creating the Sandra Moon Community Complex – fondly dubbed as “The Moon” – on the site of the old Grissom High School on Bailey Cove Road in South Huntsville.
Much of the old school campus will be torn down; however, the City plans to retain and renovate the two gyms and ballfields for recreation, and transform the old theater into a performing arts center managed by ArtsHuntsville.
By maintaining and improving the recreational elements (the gyms and ballfields), upgrading the theater, adding a new library, and creating a town green, the project aims to create an intimate town center for the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Instead of a municipal complex, this site will function as a gathering place, and a point of pride, for the immediate neighbors; in a way, a mini downtown for this corner of South Huntsville,” said Dennis Madsen, Manager of Urban & Long-Range Planning.
The total budget for Phase 1 of the project is $6 million. Garber Construction won a $4,657,000 contract for the initial demolition and field work, which the company expects to take about nine months.
During this phase, Garber Construction will selectively demo the central pod of the Grissom High building. Once a physical separation is made, the City’s Public Works crews will continue tearing down the north half of the building in preparation for the building pad to support the new 35,000 square foot, state-of-the-art South Huntsville Public Library – the highlight of the new complex. The Library plans to be ready for bid in early 2019.
After Garber Construction completes demolition, they will start constructing three new multipurpose fields and 12 lighted pickleball fields, a highlight for District 3 Council Member Jennie Robinson, whose vision has played a major role in the area’s revitalization.
“There is an active and vocal pickleball community, and they are so excited about these courts and tournaments,” said Robinson. “We look forward to bringing this fast-growing sports phenomenon to the Sandra Moon complex.”
Shoot for the Moon
The goals for the Moon complex are two-fold. One is to encourage economic activity in the area. By making a commitment to civic amenities, new investment is attracted to housing renovation and commercial redevelopment, adding to property values and bring new shops and restaurants.
The other is to improve the general quality of life for those who call South Huntsville home.
“General Services has been working hard to prepare the site for the next phase of the Sandra Moon Community Complex, and our department is looking forward to creating a place that people of all ages can enjoy,” said Ricky Wilkinson, Director of General Services.
Designs for the interior renovations will start this fall, and the project, exclusive of the new library, will be completed in summer 2019.
A modern library, public recreation, a community theatre, and a shared park: together the Moon aims to be a central gathering place to meet neighbors, for kids to make new friends, and for residents to get together and feel a part of something greater than themselves. “To have an enduring sense of community,” says Madsen.