New Alabaster high school on track for 2017 opening

New Alabaster high school on track for 2017 opening

Alabaster High School

The company managing construction of Alabaster’s new high school off Thompson Road is preparing to bid the athletic facility portion of the project in the coming weeks, a representative from the company told School Board members during an Aug. 30 meeting. During the Alabaster Board of Education meeting, Jonathan Grammer with Volkert Inc., the company managing the new high school project, told board members the final major portion of the project is almost ready to bid. “We are finishing up the phase four documents for bid, and we should bid those out in a few weeks,” Grammer said while giving an update on the project. The School Board has already approved bids for phases one through three of the new high school which is currently under construction on a portion of 300 acres between Thompson Road and Kent Dairy Road. Once the entire project is completed, the school facilities will be about 385,000 square feet, will initially be built to house 2,000 students and will be constructed with future expansions in mind. The school will include 74 classrooms, 14 science lab classrooms, a 1,250-seat auditorium, a 150-seat black box theater, a 32,269-square-foot career academy and a 100-seat lecture hall. Grammer said crews with the Argo Building Company are finishing up pouring slabs for phase one of the project, which includes construction of the majority of the main academic building, which will include the cafeteria, media center, special education facility and space for the school’s career technical program. He said crews with the Clements-Dean construction company soon will begin work on phases two and three, which will include the meeting spaces, arena, indoor gym and other components of the school’s main academic building and the school’s fine arts building. The new school is on track to be completed in time to open to students in the fall of 2017, Grammer said. “We are still on track to be on time,” Grammer said. “There is no indication that will change. Everything is going smoothly now.” Read more…

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Alabaster Housing Market Hits Six-Year High

Alabaster housing market hits six-year high

The housing market in Shelby County’s largest city has seen a nearly 245-percent spike since 2010, and ended 2015 with the highest number of new homes since the economic recession hit in the late 2000s.

The Alabaster Department of Building Safety recently released its year-end numbers for 2015, verifying the best news the city’s housing market has seen in several years.

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At the end of 2015, the department had issued 100 new home building permits for projects valued at about $26.6 million. By comparison, the city issued 75 new home building permits in 2014 for projects valued at about $16.7 million.

“We issued seven permits for new homes in December, bringing our total for the year to 100 new homes,” Ward 7 City Councilman Tommy Ryals said during a Jan. 25 meeting. “That’s a long way from 2010.”

The average price of each new house constructed in 2015 was about 20 percent higher than it was in 2014. In 2014, the median price for each new house was $222,290, while 2015’s median new home price rose to about $265,568.

“This means our home values are going up, which is a good thing,” Ryals said.

Ryals said the city is not looking to return to the “uncontrolled” growth the city saw in the 1990s and early 2000s, and said all houses built in the city over the past couple of years were approved several years ago.

“All of these homes being built are homes that were already on the books,” Ryals said. “None of it is new subdivisions, it’s just filling out subdivisions that have already been started.”

Last year brought an increase in every type of permit – such as new commercial buildings and residential additions and remodels – compared with 2014 and the past several years.

In 2015, the department issued nine new commercial building permits for projects valued at about $13.5 million, compared to four permits in 2014 for projects valued at a total of about $3.1 million.

In the residential addition and remodeling sector, the city issued 140 permits in 2014 for projects valued at $2.2 million, compared to 233 permits for projects valued at $3.9 million in 2015. Read more…

Alabaster’s future may include civic center, town center and entertainment district

Alabaster may have a blueprint for bringing several new amenities to the city – possibly including a town center, civic center and entertainment district – if the City Council votes in late December to approve Alabaster’s newest comprehensive plan.

Alabaster Town Center

The Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham recently finished working with the city to construct the comprehensive plan, which has been built using feedback from focus groups, local residents, business owners and city leaders.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted on Nov. 17 to accept the comprehensive plan, which will guide the city’s actions for decades, and the City Council likely will vote on the plan during its Dec. 21 meeting.

If the plan is approved, it will lay out several ideas for city leaders to consider as the city grows into the future.

“The comprehensive plan contains over 90 action items for us to consider implementing internally,” City Manager George Henry said in a video posted on the plan’s website, Alabasterforward.com. “We encourage you to go to the city’s website and download the entire document as well as other videos and supporting documents.”

The Regional Planning Commission makes several recommendations in the plan based off feedback it received during the comprehensive planning process.

Among the recommendations were more mixed-use centers incorporating retail, offices, restaurants and housing into single developments, a possible business incubator and an entertainment district along the Medical Mile on U.S. 31 to attract people after 5 p.m.

The plan calls for the extension of the Buck Creek Trail north to the Medical Mile and south to Veterans Park off Alabama 119, and calls for the construction of a new civic center near the intersection of U.S. 31 and Industrial Road.

Along the major corridors of U.S. 31 and Alabama 119, the plan calls for stricter design regulations “to create a uniform and aesthetically pleasing appearance.” The plan also calls for the redevelopment of former Siluria mill area into a town center with a green space, an amphitheater and mixed-use buildings.

The plan recommends the addition of shuttles to transport residents – especially senior adults – between the Alabaster Senior Center, Promenade shopping center and Shelby Baptist Medical Center. Read more…

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Alabaster – New Walmart Market Center

Alabaster’s Walmart Neighborhood Market will hold its grand opening with a celebration starting at 7:30 a.m. on Sept. 30.

Walmart Market Center

The store on Highway 119 at Fulton Springs Road will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 7:30 a.m., according to a Walmart representative.

In addition to the grocery store, a Walmart fuel center will be located across the parking lot from the Neighborhood Market. The store will be open 24 hours a day.

The store is continuing to seek applicants for various positions, primarily cashiers and overnight stockers.

A hiring center for Walmart Neighborhood Market Store No. 4756 is open in the Southbrook Village shopping center off 1st Street Southwest, a few storefronts down from Chubb’s Grub Station and Amy’s Hallmark. The site is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Read more…

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Alabaster – New School Design

Alabaster’s new high school will feature a design “very unique for Alabaster,” the city’s school superintendent said while unveiling the design during a July 13 meeting.

 

Once the building is completed, a large white rotunda will welcome students into the two-story structure, and will include a small reflecting pool in front of the main entrance. Access to the school will be available via roads connecting with Thompson Road and Kent Dairy Road.

During an Alabaster Board of Education meeting, new high school project engineering firm Volkert and the McKee and Associates architectural firm held the first public unveiling of the new school’s design.

“We were looking for something that would be very unique for Alabaster,” Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers said. “The (rotunda) dome is very unique as far as high schools go.”

The 384,000-square-foot school building will house at least 2,000 students, Vickers said previously, and will include a 1,250-seat theatre, three gyms including a 2,000 seat main arena, a golf practice facility, a regulation track and more.

Renderings of the new high school depict a two-story main building with the theater, cafeteria, career academy and main and auxiliary gyms grouped together near the back of the campus. A large courtyard with an amphitheater will be placed in the middle of the campus between the main classroom building and the gym. Parking lots will surround the building to provide adequate on-campus parking for students, faculty and visitors.

The building will be constructed with future expansion in mind, Vickers said.

“Our goal was to build something that will last generations,” Vickers said, noting the building was designed using input from “numerous stakeholders” at the school and in the community. “We really tried to take care of all aspects of educating our high school students. It’s a great opportunity for us as a city and as a city school system.”

In mid-June, the School Board approved a $9.8 million grading package for the new high school’s site, which is on a portion of a more-than-300-acre tract the school board owns between Thompson Road and Kent Dairy Road.

School Board President Adam Moseley said the board likely will award the school’s construction bid in August, and will award a bid for the new school’s stadium and athletic complex in September.

Once the site is graded, crews likely will begin construction on the new school building in October, Vickers said previously. Once completed, the new Alabaster school will be the second-largest in the state behind Enterprise High School, and is set to open in the fall of 2017.

After the design was unveiled, Alabaster residents Babs Prater and Lance Gardner, who live near the new school property, expressed concerns about the project.

The two residents, who said they were also representing some of their neighbors in the Kentwood and South Wind subdivisions, said they had concerns about water runoff, light and sound emitting from the new school, increased traffic and the retention of a 150-foot wooded buffer area between the property and the neighborhoods.

Prater asked for the residents to “be reassured in writing that 150-foot buffer will remain wooded and rural,” and asked for uncompleted roads in South Wind to not be tied into the new school property. Gardner echoed many of Prater’s concerns, and asked the school system to carefully study the traffic impacts of the new school, especially along Thompson Road.

“I don’t want anyone to think for a minute that we are opposed to the new school, because that is not true,” Prater said. “We are just worried about what it is going to do for our property.” Read more…

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Alabaster Schools Make Major Advancements

Alabaster city schools make major advancements

forward with their $10 million dollar project marked with a July 2017 completion date.

Alabaster city schools
Future site for Alabaster city schools.

The Alabaster Board of Education tonight approved a nearly $10 million bid for major site work in the development of the new Thompson High School.

“This is setting the foundation, literally, for the school and for our athletic facilities, and I think for everyone you’re going to see that site take shape,” board President Adam Moseley said in an interview before tonight’s meeting.

The board approved the low bid from Utah Construction Co. worth nearly $9.86 million for the mass grading package for the new school, which will be located on 128 acres north of Kent Dairy Road and east of Highway 17.

The groundwork includes a host of preparation activities including erosion control, site clearing, mass grading, retaining walls, storm water piping, sanitary sewer piping and water main relocation, Superintendent Wayne Vickers said before tonight’s meeting.

Other preparation activities include the building pad scope of work completed by Oct. 1, the athletic stadium and field scope of work completed by Jan. 1 and the remaining site scope of work including clearing and grading of access roads completed by April 1, 2016.

Vickers said the district board expects to accept the bid on the building and athletic facilities construction project in August with a start date set for Oct. 2. The new Thompson High School is expected to be completed July 17, 2017.

The new school, which carries a total price tag in the $90 million range, will offer 379,000 square feet, athletic fields and the district’s new career tech facilities.

“We’re the 16th largest high school in the state, and we’re also adding career tech facilities to the site so they’re right there on campus, which is a large part of what we’re trying to do with our career academies,” Vickers said.

Volkert Inc. is guiding the project for the school district. Already the property has been cleared of trees as well as debris in preparation for the ground work.

“We are doing all this and breaking it up in these packages to take advantage of moving ahead and getting the work going while the rest of design is being completed,” said Leon Barkan, vice president of program and construction management for Volkert Inc.

“Everything at this point has been on track and things are looking really good,” Barkan added. “It’s going to be fantastic.” Read more…

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Alabaster Housing Market Continues Surge

Alabaster Alabama New Home Construction

Alabaster continued to see higher hew home building permits through August than it did during the same time period in 2013, and is still seeing its highest number of new home permits since 2008.

New Home Construction

Through August, Alabaster had issued a total of 51 new home building permits, compared to 39 new home permits during the same time period in 2013, Ward 7 City Councilman Tommy Ryals said during a Sept. 15 meeting.

From Jan. 1, 2013-Dec. 31, 2013, the city issued a total of 61 hew home building permits.

Ryals previously said this year’s new home permits likely will be at their highest since the nationwide economic downturn hit in 2008, but said the numbers are still a far cry from what the city saw in the early and mid-2000s.

The city issued a total of 59 new home permits in 2012, 30 permits in 2011 and 29 in 2010. Alabaster’s number of residential housing permits took a nosedive after the nationwide economic downturn hit in 2008. Alabaster went from a high of 354 new housing permits in 2004 before ending the year with 100 in 2008 and 48 in 2009. Read more…

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Alabaster Schools Get $120 Million Bond Deal

The Alabaster Board of Education tonight approved the sale of bonds that will raise roughly $120 million for construction projects including a new high school and payment of debt associated with the separation from Shelby County’s system. Alabaster City Schools The board approved the issuance of $101.8 million in tax-exempt bonds that will translate to $107.4 million in revenue for the district, Superintendent Wayne Vickers said after tonight’s board meeting. Wayne Vickers The district is planning to use the tax-exempt bonds to fund various projects including construction of the new high school on part of 301 acres surrounded by neighborhoods north of Kent Dairy Road and east of Highway 17. Additionally, the board tonight approved the deal concerning the issuance of $12.8 million in taxable bonds for repaying the Shelby County Board of Education for debts incurred during the separation of the two school systems in 2013.   The actions tonight followed a special meeting by the board on Aug. 20 when it voted to allow investment bankers to raise roughly $120 million through the sale of bonds. Much of the funding will go toward construction projects, including the new high school that’s expected to reach completion in 2017. Other plans include renovations of existing buildings, including converting the current high school for use by sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Fourth- and fifth-graders at the intermediate school will move to the middle school as part of the renovation plan. The intermediate school and sixth-grade center will undergo other renovations and find new uses. The funding will also provide new technology for students and teachers throughout the system. “The funds we will have for technology are really exciting,” Vickers said during tonight’s meeting. “This is going to be a tremendous leap forward for our system and our students,” board President Adam Moseley added. After tonight’s approval of the budget for the new fiscal year, Vickers said about $1 million will be spent in the coming months on upgrading infrastructure to handle new computers and other equipment that will come later. “My goal is to get as much as we can for our students, and the technology is something they embrace,” Vickers said. The funding plans arrived after the Alabaster City Council in June approved a 30-year pledge of the municipality’s 1 percent sales tax earmarked for education. The pledge means the 1 percent sales tax will remain in place for the life of repaying the school district’s bonds that is expected to take 30 years. The taxable bonds are scheduled for the final principal payment on 2024. The tax-exempt bonds will get their first principal payment in 2025 with the final principal payment in 2044. Read more…

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Alabaster Welcomes New THS Principal

THS Principal

“We finished up registration today, and it went very smoothly,” Tangle said. “I think it went a lot faster this year with the online registration than it did last year.”

About 100 ACS teachers and staff members, city leaders, friends and family members gathered at the Alabaster Senior Center on July 29 to welcome Tangle and his family to the city.

Tangle, who was hired as the new THS principal in June and most recently served as the principal of Saraland Elementary School, said he has been welcomed with open arms since arriving at THS.

“I’ve never had anything quite like this before,” Tangle, who was joined by his wife, Michelle, daughter, Kelsey, and son, Hunter, said of the reception. “Everyone has been so helpful and cooperative.”

Alabaster School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers praised Tangle for bringing a wide range of experience to the school system.

“He has been an administrator at the elementary, high and middle school levels, so he brings a large amount of leadership with him,” Vickers said. “He knows the importance of academic leadership and athletic leadership.”

During the reception, dozens lined up to greet Tangle and his family while a live band performed and refreshments were served.

“We are grateful for the chance to having you with us, and we look forward to the potential you bring,” City Councilman Bob Hicks told Tangle.

Tangle said the school has undergone a summer cleaning and floor waxing, and said he is looking forward to Aug. 7.

“We will be ready to welcome the students back next Thursday,” Tangle said.

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