Comments are welcome (positive or negative), but any self-advertisements or irrelevant posts will be deleted.

No new posts are being added to this blog. For planning news and updates, check out The BIG Picture Huntsville (also on Facebook). For transportation info, check out the Huntsville Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Next Ideas Summit: Downtown

On the city-wide Ideas Map, which went live in January, general non-retail ideas for the downtown area came in fourth overall. Since then, the momentum has been building for downtown redevelopment-- the Belk-Hudson Lofts project has been announced (construction begins in August), the first hotel at Constellation opened, and if you can read between the lines, you may realize that Councill Court's redevelopment is imminent-- if you liked Belk-Hudson, believe me, if it all pans out, you're going to love what's in store for that site.

The City of Huntsville's Intern Class V this week is launching a new version of the Ideas Map that will be welcome to any downtown ideas-- not just new retail and restaurants. While the city is still using SeeClickFix for the actual map, we have come up with several other ways to get people involved, including a Facebook page and a chalkboard that will be at several events (e.g. Concerts in the Park) and locations throughout downtown in the next few weeks.

The summits will be consolidated into one finale, open to the public, to be held July 21st at 6PM at the Belk-Hudson building at the corner of Holmes and Washington old Regions Bank building on West Side Square. It's the same night as the Sidewalk Arts Stroll, so you should already be downtown. Speakers at the event include David Wilson (the new Downtown marketing director), Mayor Battle, interim planning director Marie Bostick, and Mary Jane Caylor. An after party hosted by Huntsville Young Professionals will be at Humphrey's immediately after the event.

So, how effective was the original Ideas Map? Some uber-vague highlights:
  • One of the Top 5 new retailers, fully aware of their placing on the map, is now aggressively pursuing a site for their first Huntsville store. If they are successful, history shows in other cities that another store in the Top 5 wouldn't be too far behind. 
  • One of the Top 5 restaurants, which originally had no plans to expand here in the near future, has zeroed in on an area for their Huntsville location. And if someone committed to opening at least five Dunkin' Donuts franchises in the area, that would be two in-demand eateries taken care of. 
  • A grocer already in the area was disappointed in its competitor's high ranking on the map. So it has accelerated its plans to expand in the city. 
  • Ideas for better transit also ranked highly on the original map. This moved plans forward for Huntsville's first transit plan; its kickoff should be coming soon.


Anonymous said...

Cool. Whole Foods and Trader Joes!

If the new restaurant is looking at Jones Valley, then Chipotle's. Otherwise Joe's Crab Shack in BS or downtown...

Anonymous said...

I love to see things happening downtown. That is where the action should be.

Anonymous said...

When I get downtown on the weekend, I am always shocked at how much activity there is. It has REALLY come a long way in the last ten years. I'm looking forward to more activity too.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope that the city will use discretion regarding allowing chain shops and restaurants to locate within the downtown square area. Neon has no place in that area.