While no specific projects were announced at this event, some rather vague goals were laid out:
- Create a long-term plan for downtown. I thought that was what the Downtown Master Plan, last updated in 2006, was for. However, I would like to see more public involvement the next time it's updated.
- Compile a list of restaurants, retail, companies, etc. that would work downtown, and bring them there. Not a bad idea, though I would take it a step further-- identify undeveloped and underutilized lots (surface parking, non-historic buildings) and see how each one can be redeveloped to fit with the broader scope of downtown.
- Build a consensus among the community on downtown growth. See "long-term plan."
- Create a long-term funding strategy for improvements. What has made Chattanooga's downtown so great? A community that supported it not only with their feet, but with their money. Many of the improvements to their downtown have been funded through private sources. Huntsville is beginning to see this with the work of Jim Hudson and the late Mark Smith (through his wife, Linda).
- Get people downtown! It's pretty self-explanatory, but it's rather hard to do in reality. It's the old "chicken or the egg" question-- what should come first: the residents or the businesses?
Also of note-- several representatives from Sci-Quest were in attendance. While their intent on moving the science museum downtown is no secret, this could mean that the move could occur sooner than later.