COMMUNITIES IN THE RIVER REGION As its name implies, the Montgomery River Region is an area rife with rivers. Some are lazy, others fast flowing, but this confluence of water in Central Alabama has formed a section of the state that is known for many things: natural beauty, agricultural heritage, hightech manufacturing facilities, the seat of state government and a major Air Force base. Encompassing all of this, the River’s Region’s diverse communities have opportunities that make them great places to live, work or visit. Montgomery, Prattville, Millbrook, Pike Road, Wetumpka and Tallassee are all growing, and the region is currently home to over 366,000 people.
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one-third Approximately on of the of the populati es within United States liv ius of a 600-mile rad Montgomery.
Sitting on the banks of the Alabama River, our state capital has plenty to brag about: a storied past that set the stage for both the Civil War and later the Civil Rights Movement; a newly revitalized downtown, complete with a riverboat, championship baseball team and a burgeoning entertainment district; shopping and restaurant choices galore across the city; and the list goes on, creating a high quality of life for all. Anna Buckalew, Senior Vice President of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “Montgomery offers an excellent quality of life on a number of fronts — amenities, cultural, recreational, family activities, entertainment, great neighborhood options and strong schools. Part of what we find when people are relocating to Montgomery is that they are looking for a quality place—a great education and activities for their kids, family, faith, recreation and entertainment, excellent healthcare options, a variety of residential choices, economic opportunities, safety and an easygoing lifestyle. Montgomery and the River Region have all that, and with no two-hour traffic commutes!” But it’s not all play and no work. Montgomery cemented its reputation of being a city beneficial for business when Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama came to town, and today, the outlook is just as rosy. Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, HYPO (Hyundai Power Transformers USA), CNHI (Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.), Raycom Media, Sabic Innovative Plastics, Rheem Water Heaters, Baptist Health and Jackson Hospital are but a few examples of Montgomery’s stable economy.
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While it will never abandon its heritage, Montgomery is moving ever forward, and its many offerings and options make it a great choice for both families and young professionals. PIKE ROAD
The city of Montgomery has also made its mark in history. “Montgomery is unique in that we are the birthplace of two of the most dynamic events that have happened in the history of the world: the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement,” Buckalew said. “Montgomery has actually been listed as one of the country’s most historically significant cities. This heritage makes Montgomery not only a tourist destination, but it greatly enriches our residents’ quality of life.” This progressive city is now undergoing great positive change. The downtown and Riverfront areas feature a new four-star hotel, convention center and an 1,800-seat performing arts centre, plus the spectacular Riverwalk and Amphitheater. The new Alleyway entertainment district, also downtown, includes restaurants, bars and retails shops—all surrounded by the unique ambiance only historic buildings and the scenic Alabama River can offer. With Mayor Todd Strange and the City Council leading the charge, this revitalization is a great example of how the private and public sectors have come together to work for the best in Montgomery.
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In addition, Montgomery has a vibrant cultural scene. “We are so blessed to have a tremendous arts community — the Shakespeare Festival, museums, Blount Cultural Park, the ballet, the Montgomery Chorale, the Symphony, and a folk and visual arts community too,” Buckalew said.
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Only 10 minutes from Montgomery in Elmore County and easily accessible by Interstate 65, Millbrook is a young city that’s proud to be a great place to live. Its “wholesome, country” atmosphere lends a true sense of community and highlights its natural beauty, all while offering the relaxing lifestyle of a small city with the conveniences of the nearby Montgomery metropolitan area right at hand. The city consistently ranks among the fastest growing cities in Alabama, with its estimated 2011 population of 14,639 in the incorporated area representing a 41-percent increase since 2000. This influx of new residents has spurred unprecedented residential building in recent decades, which in turn attracted new commercial and retail development. City leaders are thrilled with Millbrook’s growth and diligently work to make sure that services meet and exceed needs. And as more and more people discover the allure of the good life in Millbrook, the community spirit of this close-knit city is flourishing. Millbrook Mayor Al Kelley elaborated. “Community in Millbrook is the kindred spirit, the thread that binds all of us together. It is the annual barbeques, parades and fireworks shows. For those who live it, breathe it and expect it, it is dear and important. This sense of community and the high quality of life it provides is also one of my responsibilities, and I take it very seriously.” The great outdoors plays a prominent role in Millbrook’s quality of life, with nature’s beauty celebrated at six well-equipped and maintained public parks that provide recreational options for all ages. Multiple other outdoor activities are enjoyed at facilities at nearby lakes and waterways, including The Alabama River and scenic Lakes Martin and Jordan.
complex. Additionally, we are proud to have Alabama’s first Bass Pro Outdoor World, as well as many other shopping amenities.”
The most significant asset in the Millbrook area is the Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF). Its headquarters are located on the grounds of the historic Lanark estate only one mile from city hall, and there, AWF offers a top-notch conservation education facility called The Alabama Nature Center with miles of diverse nature trails, a pavilion and exceptional programs and events for schools and the public. A laidback environment, a good school system, a low crime rate, plentiful recreational opportunities and growth…Millbrook’s got it all.
With approximately 32,000 people in its city limits, Prattville is the capital city’s neighbor just 13 miles to the north. This community boasts a bevy of things that make it something special. Its people exude Southern hospitality, and despite being among the five fastest growing areas in the state, Prattville has maintained its small-town charm.
Patty Vanderwal, President of the Prattville Area Chamber of Commerce, said, “There’s a lot of opportunity here. Our community is the best of both worlds. We have the beauty of nature with the convenience of city, and small-town closeness with unlimited growth potential.” Vanderwal added that Prattville’s growth could be credited to its community leadership and its education system. We have strong schools here, with a good curriculum and other opportunities such as athletics,” she said. If you’re interested in a city with a “modern Mayberry” feel, give Prattville a closer look.
It all started in 1833, when founder Daniel Pratt arrived on the scene. Acquiring land at the fall line of Autauga Creek, he established the town of Prattville and began manufacturing his cotton gins. His company became the foremost producer of cotton gins in the world, earning Prattville the designation of “Birthplace of Industry in Alabama.” Holding on to this heritage while moving ahead has given Prattville a character all its own, as Mayor Bill Gillespie Jr. explained. “Prattville is a city where progress and preservation go hand-in-hand. We are truly a city on the move, and we are proud of our rich history, but look forward to our future as the ‘Hometown’ of the River Region,” said Gillespie. “We are also home to the world-class Robert Trent Jones Capitol Hill golf
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Montgomery Deer Creek / StoneyBrooke Plantation / Wyndridge / Woodland Creek Prattville Highland Ridge / Mountain Lakes Millbrook Cotton Terrace / Grand Park
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians, along the Coosa River, Wetumpka is appropriately known as the “City of Natural Beauty”. Thanks to the six-mile stretch of whitewater rapids, developed hiking and mountain biking trails and lakes, it is also a haven for outdoor recreation lovers. Wetumpka is located in Elmore County, the third fastest growing county in the state. The archaeological significance found in Wetumpka is staggering, as Wetumpka was home to the most cataclysmic geological event in the area. Some 83.4 million years ago, a meteor slammed into the shallow sea that covered this entire region. Today, its remains are showcased in the four-milediameter crater that the impact left behind, with the city’s historic downtown cradled in its basin. Wetumpka’s historic downtown district is listed on the “National Register of Historic Places”. Visitors will enjoy the Elmore County Museum, Elmore County Museum of Black History, 1931 court house and distinctive Bibb Graves Bridge, three pre-Civil War antebellum churches and historic homes. Outdoor recreation remains Wetumpka’s focus in terms of economic development. The Coosa River offers white water sports for the beginner and the skilled competitor. The blue-green waters of 44,000-acre Lake Martin are only 20 minutes away, as are the shores of smaller Lake Jordan (a mere 10-minute drive), and both offer not only magnificent options for the home buyer, but endless opportunities for boating, fishing and other recreational activities. The Coosa River and world-class Swayback Bridge Trail have become popular destination spots for outdoor enthusiasts as well as competitors. Wetumpka is home to the popular Coosa River Challenge adventure race, Coosa Whitewater Festival kayaking competition, Attack on Swayback mountain bike race and many bass fishing tournaments.
Made up of more than 40 distinct neighborhoods, the Town of Pike Road includes some of the River Region’s oldest settlements. Among those settlements is the original Pike Road community, begun with the arrival of the Marks, Mathews and Meriwether families around 1815. In an effort to preserve a rich heritage and plan wisely for the future, the Town of Pike Road incorporated in 1997, nearly two centuries after the first settlers arrived in the community. The commitment to planning was identified by residents in 2005 as one of four priorities for the future work of the town. The town is now a mix of beautiful new neighborhoods and lovely historic communities, both of which contribute to the hometown feeling generations have sought in moving to the area. The first phase of the Pike Road Natural Trail system was completed in fall 2011 and is ideal for walkers, runners and off-road bicyclists.
Swayback Bridge Trail
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Town of Pike Road
Located in eastern Montgomery County, the Town of Pike Road is a growing small town with a vision that builds a solid future on the area’s rich history. With a population of 5,406 according to the 2010 Census, the Town of Pike Road experienced phenomenal growth during the past decade. Town leaders attribute that growth to the excitement and passion inspired by the unique mix of old and new within the town’s boundaries.
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GET IN THE KNOW WHICH LOCATION IS BEST? The River Region is rich in her history and is equally as blessed in her offerings of places to live. In fact, MSNBC named Montgomery in its top 100 places to live and raise a family. U.S. News and World Report names Montgomery as one of the top 10 most affordable places to retire and named four of Montgomery’s public schools as America’s Best. Recent low prices and offerings in real estate combined with historically low interest rates make it the best time ever, and I mean EVER, to buy a home. But where should you start looking for a new home? First, second and lastly think “location, location, location.” Unfortunately low prices or “great deals” have attracted some buyers to ignore this timeless rule of investing in real estate: Where your home is located will ultimately determine the quality of the investment. The first location is a “macro” decision. Considering things like where you work, where your kids will attend school, the safety of the area and nearby places to eat and play will help you nail down an area or what I call the “macro” decision. 1
Next is a “micro” location decision. You’ll want to pick a neighborhood or setting or what I would call the “micro” location. In determining this, ask yourself what amenities are available within walking distance? Are trees or a big yard important? Is there security built into the area? If I want to take a long walk where will it take me? Is there a home owner’s association that will help protect the integrity of the neighborhood? Is architectural style or continuity important? 2
The last or third “location” decision comes down to your personal space or the footprint that you’ll live on / in. Do I want a corner lot or in a cul-de-sac? Do I want to live on the first or second floor? What do I see from my front porch? Not every home is perfect, but the location needs to be the most thought out, least-compromised part of the decision of where you will lay your head down at night! 3
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Jimmy Rutland is a native Montgomerian and third generation home builder and developer. He serves on the Board of Directors for the State of Alabama Home Builders Association. Jimmy enjoys serving and giving to his church and community through numerous volunteer opportunities. He has been married to his wife, Rachel, for 16 years and they have three children, Wells (13), Gray (11), and Ella (8). Jimmy is a Vice President of Lowder New Homes, the area’s largest homebuilder and developer of single family homes and neighborhoods since 1956. You can visit their website at: www.LowderNewHomes.com.
Pike Road Mayor Gordon Stone wants residents and others to think of the Town of Pike Road as the River Region’s oldfashioned hometown where citizen input drives future priorities. “Our town’s motto is ‘Welcome Home,” said Stone. “These words exemplify the spirit of this town and the feeling we try to give everyone who comes through the door of Town Hall.”
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Introduced early in 2012, the ENHANCE initiative combines the strategic efforts of the town with the work of nine citizen groups to increase citizen involvement and leadership. In Pike Road, there’s a place for every resident to be active and involved.
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The lovely “Treasure on the Tallapoosa,” Tallassee is a small town with big energy that’s got much to give its residents and visitors. Only 20 minutes from Montgomery, this city may be best known for a rich history dating back to Native American times and carefree lake living (with Tallapoosa River running through it and Lake Martin practically in its backyard). But Tallassee is also an industrial hub, with over 21 industries located in the city, including Neptune Technologies, GKN Aerospace and several Tier-1 Hyundai suppliers. “We are a small, but growing city,” Jeanna W. Kervin with the Tallassee Chamber of Commerce said. “Our public city school system continually out-ranks all neighboring systems.” She also pointed to Mother Nature as a large part of the community’s appeal. “Our natural resources are bountiful,” she said. “Hunting, fishing and all types of outdoor activities are easily available.” And it’s all about to be easier to access. “We are in the beginning stages of developing our Riverfront and Entertainment district,” Kervin said. “This area will include an amphitheater, a Creek Indian heritage museum, walking paths plus a hotel and conference center.”
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With its hometown feel, Tallassee is a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle, and for those who are considering a place to live, work, raise a family, retire, or even start a new business, Tallassee deserves consideration.
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GET IN THE KNOW MORGAN’S HOTSPOTS There’s more to Montgomery than just downtown. Let 27-year-old Montgomery native and Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitor Bureau Marketing Coordinator Morgan Berney introduce you to some of the city’s other happening areas. HAMPSTEAD Enjoy a fine meal at the newly relocated City Grill. The lamb chops are amazing. Then, move on over to the Tipping Point for great beer, fun and music and an occasional outdoor movie in the beer garden. OLD CLOVERDALE Don’t miss the best margaritas in town at El Rey Burrito Lounge or the artistic feel of Tomatino’s pizza. If you’re up for a date night, try Chophouse at the Vintage Year or TRUE. Then, spend the evening laid back at Pine Bar or Leroy’s or take in some soothing jazz at 1048 Jazz and Blues.
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MIDTOWN Now thriving once again, the Midtown area of town has so much to offer. Absorb live musical entertainment at Midtown Pizza Kitchen on Thursday nights and bring the whole family for scrumptious pizza. Or, for a ladies lunch or date night, do not miss the mouthwatering meals at Michael’s Table. EASTCHASE To experience fine dining on a budget, I love $5 Bang Bang Shrimp night at Bonefish Grill. Follow the spicy shrimp with a cocktail or other libation while enjoying some live musical talent at La Jolla. BLOUNT CULTURAL PARK For a relaxing afternoon and a picnic, this is Montgomery’s hidden jewel. I love combining it with a performance at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival or a stroll through the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
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