This is a good idea - we know Chattanooga has a vibrant downtown but that started ~20 years ago with the thought of an aquarium. I was living there when they were discussing that and there were a lot of naysayers (for sure it turned out great). I would suggest taking a good look at Knoxville who have recently (within the past 4 years) put in a Market Square Mall. It is similar scale and similar size city and we could learn a lot by what they are doing and what they have learned.
Would love to see a market place such as Nashville's Farmer's Market or the wonderful Soulard Market in St. Louis. Huntsville has a beautiful downtown area that could really flourish with this idea. Please...go for it!!!
Actually, the one that really got me thinking, before I stumbled across Greg's design, is when 4 troupe members and myself flew to Ithaca, NY to do a show in February. There was a MASSIVE one designed ... great long street, and called the Downtown Commons. Buskers were playing music at different locations. Casual seating dotted throughout. 'Art' venues, and shops with several attractive restaurants.
Of course, Ithaca is the home of Cornell and Ithaca College, which doesn't hurt. But we have several Huntsville universities close by, as close as Cornell is to their downtown, so that fact doesn't affect how it works. Ithaca has SNOW, so the Commons is pretty sparse in the winter, with the snow. So happens F2F arrived in a warm spell, and were able to maze through the crowd.
My thoughts, as they are.
This is a terrible idea. It is wasteful to spend money on building new stores when we have plenty of shops that are not being used. They should make market shops in the buildings that are empty. We need to use what we have. This is gluttony. Especially in these economic times. This is why we are in this mess. They should be resourceful instead of spending more. Plus it will look very gaudy and it is very inconvenient.
This idea is fantastic IF the city is involved with other ways of revitalizing downtown. My ideas of this include:
1. use Chattanooga as a template for revitalization. They are doing a wonderful job! We don't have an aquarium to bring in tourists, but a Marketplace would be great for bringing in locals.
2. Provide incentive for businesses to come to downtown, and allow them to establish themselves through cheap rent. Businesses have a tendency to disappear from downtown (not to mention in Huntsville in general: Stearns Coffee, Magnolia Chocolates, Alabama Bread Company, to name a few off the top of my head). People need to develop the habit of thinking of downtown as a destination outside of Panoply or Big Spring Jam. They won't if good businesses disappear before people can develop a habit around them (like they've been doing with Sam and Gregs! Myself included).
3. There was some talk of allowing downtown to expand upwards. I like this for NEAR historic downtown - say the area west and north. Huntsville's downtown area is tiny, and there is plenty of space that could give way to high rises west of the historic district. But the historic downtown and the nearby neighborhoods are what give it personality, and in my opinion make it a desireable place to visit and even live. I love walking around and checking out the houses after I've eaten a pizza at S&Gs then going to the park to watch people feed the (Franken)ducks. This historic downtown should be seen as a part of Huntsville to cherish, not sweep away.
4. It would be great to see the Flying Monkey's weekend market downtown, along with a Farmer's market. Some businesses I would love to see populate downtown Huntsville: Coffee/bookstore that can stay open late, new/used book store (boy, a Powells sure would be awesome! http://www.powells.com/), Stearns with food!, bike rental (assuming some bike-friendliness makes its way downtown!), arts theater (like the Capri Theater in Montgomery - they play great movies! Only place for one is Sammy T's though... not gonna happen), chocolateria like Magnolia's, etc. Anybody else have any ideas?
I like this idea very much. One additional thing we need to think about is how to get foot traffic from the nearby hotels over to this area without having to worry about stepping in front of a car. Pedestrian access will be key to keeping this idea afloat. Also, parking will be an issue. Solve those two problems and I say lets do it.
I was born and raised in Huntsville and have always loved the downtown area. This is a great idea and long overdue !!
With all the improvements in downtown this would be a fabulous addition.
Love this idea. It's exactly what this "City of Arts" needs!
I LOVE the idea of Huntsville having a marketplace. It would greatly broaden the classification of Huntsville as a city, redefining it as a artistic mecca, as well as city of innovative technology. Our children, teens, and adults need to be exposed to the arts such as those in Taos, Santa Fe, San Francisco, and other cities that have marketplaces. I have heard people come from other cities and ask, "Where's the art? Where's the market?" I hope we can soon answer these questions by pointing the way.
Huntsville downtown is an embarrassment. It gives a terrible impression of our city. Visitors who land at the airport, drive on 565 then get off on Jefferson Street to stay at our beautiful Embassy Suites Hotel have to drive along empty Jefferson Street past deserted store fronts and empty buildings. Having a marketplace would definitely be improvement.
In my travels I have seen many downtown areas with some type of market space, festive retail, or other pedestrian mall spaces. I could see this working in Huntsville. A downtown square marketplace would flow very nicely into Big Spring park -- really adjoining the two. This would create a needed shopping for some of our new downtown dwellers as well. I heartily endorse this idea.
I'm sure the city is interested in new ideas to revitalize downtown and this seems like a good idea, I vote the city do an assessment (cost vs. benefit analysis) of the project. Thanks for putting this together Greg.
I have visited the marketplace in Savannah and would love to have something similar in Huntsville!
There is something like this in Tampa, FL and it is so much fun to take an afternoon and go explore! I would love to be able to do this in Huntsville!
Great idea. Let's make it happen! The sooner, the better!