2018 was another fantastic year for Downtown Huntsville, Inc., filled with remarkable successes on many different fronts. For starters, DHI celebrated our 5th Anniversary in January. It’s hard to believe that over five years ago visionary business, civic, and government leaders worked with the International Downtown Association to create the blueprint for revitalizing our city center and assigning DHI the responsibility for coordinating this collaborative effort. The great teamwork of these partners started Downtown Huntsville on today’s impressive path of success.
Over the last five years, dynamic new developments have debuted in the city center including The Avenue, City Center, The Garage at Clinton Row, Twickenham Square and more. Our strategy to expand the conventional definition of “Downtown” to include surrounding areas in the city center (we call them the Districts of Downtown) has also been successful.
Visionary developers at Campus No. 805, Huntsville West, Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, Merchant’s Walk and many others have helped turn the Huntsville City Center into one of the premier urban destinations to live, work, and play among middle-sized cities anywhere in the Southeast. Combined with the expansive small business growth, Downtown Huntsville has now become one of the most unique and interesting destinations in the state.
While the private market has invested in the revitalization of Downtown Huntsville, so have our partner public entities. Highlights include $40+ million in approved improvements to the Von Braun Center (including a new signature ballroom and music hall), important functional and aesthetic improvements to Big Spring Park, the revitalization of Constitution Hall Park, the new Lowery Boulevard gateway into Downtown, new parking decks and beautiful streetscape improvements.
In addition to dynamic development activity, DHI events have brought thousands of guests to the city center including signature events like Tinsel Trail and the Downtown Open, along with unique new events like Paddle the Canal, Pop Up Parks and L.I.T.
Another popular DHI initiative has been the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail which has grown to include over ten local breweries and craft beer destinations within the Downtown area. This popular activity has attracted great media coverage and visitors from throughout the country.
Another important Downtown milestone occurred in 2017 when the City of Huntsville and DHI partnered to successfully create and begin implementation of a new Downtown Master Plan Update led by internationally-renowned planning firm Urban Design Associates. Initial implementation successes include the state’s first protected cycle track and a significant expansion of the Downtown Huntsville bikeshare program.
Since our inception, Downtown Huntsville, Inc. has also received five straight International Downtown Association Awards—including the Clinton Row Retail Incubator, Downtown Book Boxes, The Garage at Clinton Row, the Downtown Open Pop Up Putt Putt and the Spragins Street Cycle Track. This streak of success is a testament to the Downtown developers and entrepreneurs who brought these projects to fruition in our city center.
Downtown Huntsville, Inc.’s sustained success is further evident by the continued growth on DHI social media platforms (33,000+ Facebook followers, 20,000+ Instagram followers, and nearly 14,000 Twitter followers) along with a loyal membership base (with an over 90% renewal rate). Also, the DHI sponsorship base has almost doubled in new event sponsors along with returning partners. Our success is made possible because of our extraordinary member and sponsor partners!
As we reflect on the great results over our first five years, we’re equally excited about the great opportunities coming soon in the Rocket City Center. Significant groundbreakings. New and expanded businesses. Unique hotels and office spaces plus shopping, green space, and entertainment improvements all await in the coming years. Now is an exciting time as we work with our strategic partners to revitalize Downtown Huntsville into one of the premier experiences among our peer cities.
We hope to see you in the City Center soon!