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Old 02-28-2010, 08:58 PM
 
256 posts, read 602,316 times
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You know, I don't know how realistic this is (or why I bother with the idea because talking about it doesn't do much of anything); but, while HSV could use some "chain" stores/restaurants we don't have -- ALDO, Coach, Sephora, California Pizza Kitchen, Macys, Sur la Table, etc -- we've really reached a certain threshold with what we can support. AND, the TRUTH is, there's alot less out there nowadays with stores merging/closing/etc. We're not going to get a Louis Vuitton or Tiffany and Co or Hermes; so, after you factor in REALITY, there's not really a ton out there that's left.

However, I was looking at this development outside Dallas (in Plano) today. The Shops at Legacy While we are SOOOOOOO not a metro of 6+ million and could not support a lifestyle center like this or of this magnitude, I think the "idea" is great -- an upscale lifestyle center with mostly all "unique" stores and restaurants. In today's world of homogenized retail and suburban living and chain restaurants, it's harder and harder to distinugish one city from another, honestly. And while we all see that independent stores/restaurants are not widely supported around here, I wonder if more of a concerted effort were made to "concentrate" such unique things into one area would help. We do not have a large youth population to help draw the arts and help turn our downtown into a Chattanooga or Paducah or other artsy area.

To even just redevelop a few blocks downtown with a very small boutique hotel, an independent/arthouse movie theatre with very few screens, a handful of small cafes or small, upscale restaurants mixed in with some chains we don't have (Pei Wei) or quick lunch places we do (a second Panera). Some unique shoe stores and clothing stores and jewelry stores mixed in with less than a handful of chains we don't have...

It's hard, overall, for "chain" restaurants and retailers to make it in downtown areas. It's why they aren't around in most downtowns anymore (at least in a big way). There isn't much traffic downtowns anymore except for weekday business traffic. And, here, that doesn't even really exist. our downtown is pretty much dead 24/7 with the exception of the hospital and a few banks and the occasional game/concert draw. Chain restaurants and retailers have profitability numbers that they HAVE to get to stick around (not to mention population counts and demographic pulls and rooftop counts and income info before they ever consider an area...God forbid a downtown area).

If we could create something "UNIQUE" -- at least in that it offered different things that you can't just find anywhere mixed with a few things that provided some natural "pull", I wonder if a handful of blocks downtown could not be revitalized into a lively area.

Again, while we have a "habit" of not supporting local, I still argue that (as anywhere) often enough "local" doesn't live up to certain standards. I don't how you get around that, but I DO definitely think concentrating them into a relatively small area may help spur interest/competition/help draw attention/etc. This is not a radical idea. Cities like Greenville become known as "foodie' destinations because of a CONCERTED effort to attract chefs/unique/local. Greenville is SIGNIFICANTLY larger than we are as a metro, and has the advantage of having several major universities. But, I think we benefit from our demographic in this case. I don't know anyone who doesn't want a nice evening out sometimes. Granted, that's different for everyone. Granted, some people will never venture far from Chilis or far from Madison or whatever their routine is. BUT, everyone wants a nice night out. How much nicer could Huntsville be if offered something "unique" on a small but significant scale? One street with one small movie theatre. the same street with one very small boutique hotel. the same street with two handfuls of local stores and restaurants? The same street with a couple small art galleries (surely we can find enough pooled talent for that). The same street with a handful of cafes and restaurants. the same street with lit trees. the same street with heavy "landscaping". The same street with occasional street performers. The same street with benches and outdoor tables. The same street with a wine bar. All of it would make for many nice evenings out...and, I think, help spill over to more streets eventually. But, I think you have to start small or with a very clear vision and wthin reason.

I'm asking for a couple blocks of unique. A couple of blocks developed AT ONCE. A couple of blocks that gets one street noticed locally, eventually regionally and beyond. A couple of blocks that could turn Huntsville from the dead city it is now, into the sophisticated center that we deserve.

One street. One time. One vision. One year.

And, I have no idea where this town center in Plano is. It's probably in the suburbs of the suburb. But, WE need something downtown, and we need it now.

I think it would be a lot more "natural" than trying to MAKE/FORCE one thing be the destination. We could have an aquarium. But, Chattanooga already did that, and deserves to have that success. ATL has the world's biggest. What can HSV do with an aquarium to make it better than one of the country's best or bigger than the world's biggest? We couldn't. It's stupid. We want people to come to HSV because what we have is UNIQUE. Granted, nothing is "unique"...but you get the idea. An aquarium has been done. An artsy downtown has been done. And neither can we pull off as well or better. So, why not go our own way -- developing a SMALL area, and being discriminating about it. I use the word "upscale" far too much, but by it, all I mean is classy, elegant, clean, kept up...and not haphazard and dirty and smoky and ill-planned...and I also mean "pretty" when I say "unique". We have a pretty city naturally. We even have a pretty downtown. But, we need some pretty stores and restaurants AND SOME UNIQUENESS to make us stand out.

Far bigger cities suffer from image problems, too. Getting ANY chain is not going to help us stand out or make us better. But, doing our own thing does make us special.

Again, places like Greenville do enough that eventually draws the attention of more and more chefs...more and more artists...more and more entrepenuers...more and more businesses...Downtown Franklin outside fo Nashville has done it. So, again, it's not a truly unique idea. But, at least what we had would be unique to us. And, the truth also is, not many places go this route as prove by my inabiliy to come up with too many examples. And anything "independent' is unique in some way.

We need Huntsville to stand apart from the rest. It does, already, in many ways. But, in some ways, we fail miserably. Let's let other cities claim aquariums as part of thier rebirth. let's let bigger cities (with bland idenities) revel in landing an IKEA. Let's be REAL. Let's be us.

Thoughts?

Last edited by DavidH74; 02-28-2010 at 09:21 PM..
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:45 PM
 
1,351 posts, read 3,403,827 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidH74 View Post
Thoughts?
Yes, David H. for mayor!
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:07 PM
 
Location: Alabama!
6,048 posts, read 18,327,698 times
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Aldo?
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Old 02-28-2010, 10:50 PM
 
12,732 posts, read 21,622,051 times
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I think that Huntsville can support just almost everything that Birmingham has. I think that Huntsville is now big enough to have a larger reatil market and trade area to support other retail and resturants.
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Old 03-01-2010, 01:14 AM
 
262 posts, read 790,407 times
Reputation: 69
I agree with DavidH. I was just commenting to my husband that the one thing I miss about living in Europe is the unique towns you could travel to. We were having a difficult time thinking of a vacation spot for Spring Break because it seems like no matter where you travel in the States, you get a lot of the same old stuff. Every town has the same malls, with the same stores and restaurants. I want to see something different.

I love to shop at stores that feature local artists and craftsmen. I would love to eat at restaurants that support local farmers and utilize the natural foods of the areas in it's dishes. I realize that the issue is that smaller equates to more expense, though, and most unless the locals support these businesses, they will not last for long.
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Old 03-01-2010, 11:24 AM
 
71 posts, read 143,066 times
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Wow great thread guys.

Lots of good information in here, thanks everyone who posted so far.
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Old 03-01-2010, 03:24 PM
 
1,351 posts, read 3,403,827 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deesonic View Post
BTW I have an Ikea kitchen.
I'm jealous, how did you get that? Remodel or custom-built on your lot? My experience with Adams in Old Ivy ("pick a lot and we build for you") a year ago was that they wouldn't put IKEA in because they wouldn't get "the certificate of occupancy if the house weren't completed". Must have been a misunderstanding (I would've hauled the kitchen myself to be installed by the builder, before completion) , or they were simply turned off when I walked in the door an started voicing out my customization.
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Old 03-02-2010, 07:37 AM
 
Location: BNA -> HSV
1,977 posts, read 4,181,983 times
Reputation: 1523
Quote:
Originally Posted by flstatenolefan View Post
I agree with DavidH. I was just commenting to my husband that the one thing I miss about living in Europe is the unique towns you could travel to. We were having a difficult time thinking of a vacation spot for Spring Break because it seems like no matter where you travel in the States, you get a lot of the same old stuff. Every town has the same malls, with the same stores and restaurants. I want to see something different.
You won't find many (if any in some areas, especially south around Hatteras and Ocracoke) chains at the Outer Banks in NC.
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Old 03-02-2010, 08:13 AM
 
Location: Huntsville native
889 posts, read 2,384,672 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by friday13 View Post
I'm jealous, how did you get that? Remodel or custom-built on your lot?
My wife just got a wild hair and we drove to Atlanta and bought everything we needed and put it all together ourselves. I was skeptical at first, but it turned out pretty nicely. I still say Huntsville doesn't NEED an Ikea. Here's a list of Southern cities that currently DO NOT have an Ikea:

Birmingham
Nashville
Memphis
Louisville
Jacksonville
New Orleans
Raleigh/Durham

So why would we think Huntsville somehow deserves an Ikea? As if Ikea is in the business of bestowing their stores on good communities or something. If it makes good business sense for Ikea to be here, then they'd be here. Sorry, KE.

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