- Entertaining Co-Workers/Clients
- Girls Night Out
- Family Fun
Must Stop Shops:
- Cafe 153
- Vintage Cigar Lounge
The Cummings Research Park spans over green lush rolling hills and Fortune 500 corporate headquarters over the stretch of 3,843 acres. This is the second largest Research park in the country and the fourth largest in the world. Leaders in defense, aerospace, computers, and technology have all planted their company headquarters here, bringing in and out a sea of engineers, scientists, and business men from all over the globe. Nestled between the Army Base, CRP, and NASA is an outdoor lifestyle center under the name of Bridge Street Town Center. This is where the locals take their guests, the engineers spend their lunches, and families spend their weekends. BridgeStreet truly has something for anyone.
The prime anchor store on the property is a 20 million dollar Belk Flagship, one of the firsts of its kind for the Belk family. The city was outraged at first when Belk left the then suffering and the now dead Madison Park Mall to open a bigger better location at BridgeStreet only a mile or so up the highway. The bigger outrage was when the residents learned that the city would be paying 4 million dollars too accommodate a store it already had. Macy’s, a store not local to Huntsville, was the first approached about the opportunity; they demanded a 20 million dollar investment from the city and refused to commit to 20 years of a guaranteed location for that price.
I couldn’t be happier with the Belk. It opened the week we moved here and I was eager to be one of the first shoppers through the door. It is modern, and filled with some great product unlike the product found in any other department store. Compared to other locations it is far more organized and shoppable than the one in Parkway Place that always seems ransacked on any given Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday…
What To Do
Bridgestreet serves as a second downtown to both Madison and Huntsville. They host many community events as well as offer many year round forms of entertainment.
Christmas does not feel like Christmas without taking the kids to the Christmas Tree Lighting, sipping on Hot Cocoa from the Chocolate Crocodile, and enjoying the incredibly impressive Firework display to everyone’s favorite Christmas jingles over the lake. I do not advise coming to BridgeStreet for fourth of July however, there was no music and the Fireworks were off campus. So far off that their magic was lost on us. I had heard such marvelous things about fourth of July at BridgeStreet and my husband and I felt completely let down by the entire experience.
For a business lunch or dinner do make reservations at Connors as the tables fill up fast, it has to be the best Steakhouse in town.
The lunch menu has 32 items that are all decent portions 12 dollars and under. The dinner menu is far more pricey, but the food meets the high standard they set for themselves. From there carry yourself over for a few cocktails and cigars at the Vintage Cigar Lounge.
Restaurants range in most price ranges, though I do wish there were more family friendly quick spots to grab a bite for moms of tots other
than a design your own 7 dollar pizza joint, Pieology (their pizzas are absolutely amazing but my daughter has a strict no cheese/no dairy diet and their seating is incredibly limited). Girls night is a trip to Sephora followed by appetizers and dessert at The Melting Pot.
There is a train the kids love to ride throughout the entire facility. The Venetian carousel is the most gorgeous one I have ever seen, and rotates with the Rockets of Nasa just in view. The movie theatre has a restaurant with a great selection of sushi. There are RC boat rentals that the kids and grown nerds can skip about the large lake area. In the warmer months there is an active splash pad in the middle of the complex, super helpful to keep the kids cooled down on those super hot Alabama summer days. And don’t forget the live music every day!
There is shopping for any demographic, there are candy stores and children clothing shops. High end women fashion retailers such as Kate Spade, Anthropologie, and Michael Kors. For the more moderate pocketbook women can shop at Francesca’s or H&M. For the men the new Haberdashery opened this past year, and the customer service and deals to be found in the Belk Men’s Department is unbeatable!
The Barnes & Nobles is a great way to kill sometime. It is large with a music department, toy section, and Starbucks. Though in a city of engineers don’t expect your four year old to always get a turn at the community lego table. 😉
The problem lies in the large lay out of the shopping center and though the entertainment possibilities are nicely spaced they are also all on the outer parts of the complex, which do not draw in shoppers. To walk the entire complex is quite exhausting in most any weather, and access from parking to the stores is quite the hike no matter where you park. Trying to collect pictures for this post yesterday with my two daughers I found myself winded by the time we had hit BJ’s Brewhouse walking through the mall from Belk. Then I had to walk back that way.
When I first moved here the mall had a rickshaw like service where bicyclists peddled you from the parking lot to various areas of the facility solely for tips. This was while the parking garage that is a tad bit more centrally located was still under construction. Now if you need to get your screaming toddler or feeble grandmother from on shop to the other you have to make the decent stride to the information booth to rent a wheelchair or a stroller. If you are renting a stroller you now have to take the key to the lower level of the parking garage behind you and then struggle with the lock while trying to keep your kids from running into the busy parking lot. I can only guess the tacky but fun strollers they picked were throwing off their town center aesthetic so they hid them underground.
Also inconvenient is the walkability from one side of the street to the other. It is particularly hard to cross form Toys R Us, Panera, or Dicks Sporting Goods to the main mall property; I always feel as if I’m playing Frogger. There definitely needs to be crosswalks painted, trams provided, or sky bridges built.
Security is present, though I have read in recent reports that the town center does lack in some security tools and measures that most complexes in their realm would deem incredibly necessary in consideration to the safety of their customers.
The Future of Bridge Street
This mall has seen stores come and go, but like most lifestyle malls it is difficult to maintain a high rent and successful retailers as customers are not there to shop as much as they are for all the experiences provided. Lifestyle Centers are the shopping craze of today and I’m interested to see how the mall will fare when they complete the new outlet mall directly across the highway, that is if that is ever built. There is talk around town that Bridge Street are in discussion over skydiving simulators and more kiddie rides to keep the experience fresh. I will greatly miss this mall, my daughter’s absolute favorite spot to play, and my favorite place to stroll at night. With the evening air in Huntsville, the ambient lighting set by the string lights, window displays, and a medium Java Chip Frappe with no whip from Cafe 153 puts this Shopgirl in her place of absolute Nirvana.
If you have already visited this mall, this shopgirl is eager to hear your thoughts and opinions! Feel free to leave comments of your favorite things to do or see. Also, please offer your own ranking here:
*Shopgirl’s overall rating is determined from an average of mall security, cleanliness, activities, family friendly, and accessibility.