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City of Huntsville, AL
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Greenville Offers New Ideas and Strategies for Huntsville Planning and Economic Development

May 15, 2012
(Huntsville, AL) - Mayor Tommy Battle praised Big Spring Partners today for inviting city and civic leaders on a fact-finding trip to explore one of the nation's more successful downtown revitalizations in Greenville, South Carolina.

Greenville's mayor, city manager, planners, chamber, developers and philanthropists met with the Huntsville delegation last week to explain what motivated them to undertake an ambitious revitalization project, how long they have been working at it (since the 1970s), and what has made it a success.

"Their philosophy is that downtown is everybody's playground," said Mayor Battle. "It belongs to every citizen in the city, and it is where families come to enjoy the beautiful parks, listen to music, dine out, go to the theater, take in a ballet or a baseball game." The lessons learned from Greenville include a city-wide acknowledgement that a vibrant and successful downtown core is an important part of a city's economic engine. It is attractive to business, and it is especially attractive when companies recruit new employees.

"This is an exciting time to live and work in Huntsville," said Evans Quinlivan, Big Spring Partners board member. "We've had national planners looking at our city in recent months and they tell us the conditions for enhancing downtown Huntsville are as good as anywhere in the country. We are competing for the best and brightest minds to live and work here, and an economically vibrant downtown will be attractive on a national and international scale."

Among the take-away items participants noticed in Greenville: the massive canopies of green trees lining the streets, plazas and public art, the high number of outdoor cafes and restaurants, residential units in almost every new or renovated building, and hidden parking garages wrapped by multi story condos and apartments.

Greenville leaders say they advocate for multi-use projects, much like Huntsville is doing with Councill Courts, that incorporate office, retail, residential or hotel. Greenville's mayor believe it is the city's job to provide the infrastructure-the proper roads, streetscapes, parking decks, lighting, public safety and sanitation. In turn, Greenville works closely with developers to guide them toward creative sources of funding including New Market Loans, TIFs, and foundation partnerships.

Mayor Battle says he is proud of Huntsville's downtown and its assets. "We recognize that we are fortunate to have community partners willing to invest in downtown, and to have an organization like Big Spring Partners to successfully lead collaborations," said Mayor Battle.

"Downtown Huntsville is a special place, and Big Spring Partners is proud of what we have been able to contribute to its revitalization," said John Stallworth, Board Chair of Big Spring Partners. "Our trip to Greenville showed us we have made great strides over the last three years and what might be possible in the future. We are eager to explore these ideas with our community partners as we determine where our next focus will be."

Like Greenville, participants on the Big Spring Partners trip believe Huntsville's downtown belongs to everyone. This fall, when the City's new urban planner is on board, Mayor Battle says work will begin on master plans for the entire city. Downtown will be a part of this process, and the Mayor looks forward to more community dialogue on what citizens believe is important for their neighborhoods as well as for the heart of Huntsville.

For more information, contact:

Kelly Cooper Schrimsher, Director of Communications, Office of the Mayor, City of Huntsville, 256-427-5006 (w), kelly.schrimsher@huntsvilleal.gov


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