Some imagination and 15 parking spots were all it took.
What resulted was a retail spot that is helping transform downtown Huntsville and which has now been recognized internationally for its ingenuity.
The Garage at Clinton Row, a municipal parking deck which has incorporated businesses on the ground floor, has been recognized with Certificate of Merit award by the International Downtown Association.
Downtown Huntsville Inc., which shepherded the project, is the official recipient of the award. It marks the fourth straight year DHI has been honored by the association.
But, as DHI President and CEO Chad Emerson says, “This is for the team that’s come together between DHI and the City of Huntsville. These programs couldn’t have been done without the City and our third-party developers.”
Wesley Crunkleton at Crunkleton & Associates was the chief developer on The Garage at Clinton Row.
“We got with Wesley and his team, who were able to see past it as more than a well-maintained 30-year-old municipal parking deck with a fence cage on it, that this could be a great retail destination,” Emerson says. “You had to have just the right developer because it was a very unconventional development.”
“The important thing as we continue to revitalize downtown Huntsville is how to creatively adapt existing buildings and structures to fit the needs of residents going forward. The Garage at Clinton Row is a perfect example of that.”
The ground-level development in the garage eliminated only 15 parking spots, leaving 482 spaces in the deck.
The current tenants are Honest Coffee Roasters, Elitaire Boutique, Roosevelt and Company Gentleman’s Supply Company and Frios Gourmet Pops. Two other bays are vacant, with new tenants expected to be announced soon.
Particularly significant to Emerson is the Garage’s synergy with the other nearby properties.
“We know that retail works best on the first level and retail works best when it’s around other retail,” he says. “In downtown, that concept is the same. You can’t have U.G. White (Mercantile, directly across the street) and Clinton Row by themselves. You need others. You create a critical mass.”
The Merit awards “recognize the best practices in the areas of innovation, representation and sustainability,” according to the Washington, D.C.-based International Downtown Association. This year’s award will be presented at the annual conference in Winnipeg, Canada, in mid-September.
A vibrant downtown core is vital for a thriving City. Chad Emerson, President & CEO of Downtown Huntsville, Inc., takes us on a tour of one of the most eclectic areas of our city's center – The Garage At Clinton Row
Posted by City of Huntsville, Alabama – Government on Wednesday, September 6, 2017
Previously, Downtown Huntsville was recognized for the Clinton Row Retail Incubator (2014), the Downtown Open “pop-up” miniature golf course with holes created by various downtown businesses (2015) and the Downtown Book Boxes (a gold medal award in 2016), in which ArtsHuntsville enlisted six local artists to repurpose obsolete newspaper boxes into works of art that would house books from the Huntsville-Madison County Library in a free lending program.
“What it shows is we’re continuing to innovate in downtown Huntsville,” Emerson says. “It’s a pretty significant award and it adds to the reputational value of the city for us to be recognized internationally like this.”