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Chad Emerson – Downtown Huntsville, Inc. company president and chief executive officer. He served as director of urban development in Montgomery and as a strategic consultant for urban and downtown revitalization in more than 30 cities.
He recently participated in a Q&A session with The Lede.
Can you tell us a little bit about your CEO role? How long have you been in this position?
I started as the first CEO in August 2013. We have been with this company for nine years. Basically, we wake up every day and try to make downtown more vibrant, because we know vibrant downtowns are vibrant.
What are some things to do in downtown Huntsville that people don’t know about?
From decorative LED lights to pop-up gardens, special events and bookshelves, many creative spaces are springing up downtown. The green portable benches where you can sit with friends in the square is an initiative created by DHI or in collaboration with other partners.
They are participating in the Huntsville City Innovation Master Plan. can say
The master plan is the official document of the city. City leading the way. Dennis Madsen in the Planning Department was our primary contact. All city teams participated. We are always cooperative and supportive. We connect with downtown businesses, downtown building owners, and downtown residents. We get feedback on key success factors. We work with the city. It’s a great partnership.
Do you want to focus on events and programs in the city?
There are many cranes and cones. This is a sign of progress. It can be frustrating when both lanes are not open and you have to turn left instead of right.
It is a fact that people want to live, work and play in the city center. People who have never considered downtown want to live in the city center. They want to go to events and shows in town. Some people want to move their business downtown.
There is a tendency to move to inner-city apartments. Why do people like to live in the city center?
Located in the middle. Whether you work in South Huntsville, North Huntsville, West or East, you can easily reach downtown from anywhere in town, including the Redstone Armory. You can go west and enter some of the gates of Redstone. You can go south and do the same.
I think the convenience of this center makes it very easy for people to get there. When you stop here, you can watch everything from a big concert to a small intimate dinner and everything in between, all without having to turn around and drive a mile here or there. .
Not only the compactness but also the beauty of Daquan Park, the trees, the buildings, the creative design of this place, all together, you can go from one city to another and have a Interesting experiment.
How has downtown changed in the nine years you’ve been here?
Demand for businesses, residents and businesses moving into the city center is at the highest we’ve seen during our stay.
In 2013, a beautiful mountain appeared in the middle of the city. This is really good documentation. The square is surrounded by beautiful trees, a beautiful historic district and historic buildings.
They have the infrastructure for a great downtown experience. And then you add in the level of creativity and the ability to run. Now the need to live, work and play in the city center has far exceeded space.
That’s why you see new projects like Grade A offices in Holmes and Green. So you’ll be published in Front Row and ready to go. You will see an eclipse unfold, Constellations open, construction announced in St. Petersburg. Clare, and prepare for the new construction site, Federal Court, and City Hall.
And that’s why you’re watching all these stories. This is not a dream building, they will come. They come here and try to build as quickly as possible.
If you have a list of cities, what are the places that are not in the city center or that you don’t want to see?
Simple attached apartment. There are many houses to buy in the city center. However, there is a section of people who are interested in not having a garden, maybe they have a second home or just want to simplify. Most of the downtown lofts are rented out. I think an affordable elevator is something we can really afford.
And I still have a lot of very important growth opportunities for the von Braun Center. This is one of the biggest attractions for people in Alabama and certainly in the Tennessee Valley. It would be great to see some expansion behind the scenes and in the future.
They may have all the playgrounds they want, but they won’t fill up every day, and expansive showrooms or expansive convention facilities can fill most of the week.