Development plans for historic Annie Merts Center in Huntsville move forward

Published: Mar. 7, 2022 at 7:59 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2022 at 6:21 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - City of Huntsville officials announced on Monday plans to sell the historic Annie Merts Center.

Portions of the structure are almost 100 years old, but a consultant for the Huntsville City School Board says there are more than 14 million dollars in improvements needed. Which is one reason the decision to sell has been made.

Members of the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission met tonight and listened to Wesley Crunkleton, who has a purchase agreement, discuss his plans. Dozens of people in the community also showed up.

The main structure, where the staircase is located, will not be demolished. But some of the other additions including the school gym will be removed and homes will be built.

“I submitted the project that I did because I felt like it was the least impactful on the neighborhood,” said Wesley Crunkleton. “Making it residential we were capped at 15 condos I felt like that was fair I was OK with that.”

A timetable has not been announced for when demolition will begin. WAFF 48 previously reported the new Huntsville City School headquarters will be moved to North Memorial Parkway at Builders Square.

This is a WAFF 48 News Update, find previous story below.

If you live in the Twickenham district in Downtown Huntsville, plans will be announced for the future of the historic Annie Merts Center, with Huntsville City Schools central office planning to relocate.

Contractors with Crunkleton and Associates want to demolish a portion of the center and use the land for residential homes.

”The building was built in 1928. The original portion of the building is what is called the Renaissance Revival Style and that was originally built to be Huntsville High School. Around 1950′s and 60′s it was modified to be Huntsville Middle School, which is when they built several additions,” said Huntsville Preservation Planner Katie Stamps.

The Annie Merts Center located on White Street in Huntsville has a lot of history. The middle section with a staircase was the section built back in 1928. That was almost 100 years ago.

The additions on both sides, with the different colors of brick, came later.

With the Huntsville City School Board announcing plans to move their office to North Memorial Parkway in the area known as Builders Square, they have plans to sell the Annie Merts Center, and developers want to demolish the add-ons and keep the original structure and build homes and condos.

“Now the developer is wanting to put back single-family residence in some of those areas surrounding the building, so whatever asked for them, to continue their application so they would come back on March 14th and share a site plan that shows how they plan to sub-divide the land,” said Stamps.

Some neighbors who also live in the historic district have concerns with construction and demolition plans.

“This is a very historic building, even the additional parts are historic,” said Patricia Hinrichs.

“We just want everybody to know what’s going on. This is their neighborhood, it’s their downtown, and I think it could be a good project but we want people to know about it before the fact, so we can get their feedback and it might have a large amount to do with our decision,” said Huntsville City Council Member Bill Kling.

Members of the Huntsville Historic Preservation Commission will vote on the plans on March 14.

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