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Downtown development has been a strong focus in the Rocket City for quite some time. In more recent years, the area has exploded with plenty of new and unique retail options, restaurants, and experience destinations that offer everything from axe throwing to arcade bars and fitness studios. It has transformed into a highly livable community that residents and visitors alike are eager to explore.

This year, Huntsville was selected to be part of an impressive lineup of cities where the International Downtown Association (IDA) will host topical conferences around the globe!

Various summits will take place in New York City, Baltimore, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, Raleigh, and even Canada and Tokyo. The fact that our city is among this strong list of communities is a testament to all of the support Huntsville has shown its downtown neighborhood.

However, Huntsville was chosen for a special reason—because we excel at telling our city’s story through creative branding and innovative placemaking.

What is the International Downtown Association?

With a vision of creating intelligently designed, innovative, and vibrant city centers, the International Downtown Association is a network of community leaders who seek to nurture and advocate downtown neighborhoods around the world.

According to IDA, it requires special attention to revitalize and sustain thriving downtowns; therefore, many cities began forming nonprofit management associations that would fulfill the needs of urban centers to enhance growth, host community events, and market the area as a whole.

Huntsville’s own Downtown Huntsville, Inc. (DHI) is one of these vital neighborhood associations that are focused on revitalization initiatives.

Through the network at IDA, members have access to numerous resources including research tools, continuing education, trade publications, and a global network of like-minded individuals who are committed to making downtowns prosperous.

What is placemaking and place branding?

All it takes is a quick walk through Downtown Huntsville to see what makes it so special. Among its colorful alleyways, musical trees, hidden murals, and eclectic annual events, the story of the Rocket City is told in a way that leaves a lasting impression.

Place branding is exactly what it sounds like—the process of creating a recognizable and unique brand that tells the story of your city. As one of the key focuses at the summit, an interactive place-branding session will happen where attendees can engage in real-time techniques to effectively brand an area. Successful place branding will turn a location into a destination by helping the world see the area’s vision and mission with each encounter.

Public spaces within urban areas are greatly enhanced with the addition of assets like parks, pop-up markets, rentable bikes, book stations, music, art, and other similar elements. This is where placemaking takes center stage.

Placemaking is the thought and execution that goes into reimagining public spaces. There are several examples in Downtown Huntsville including the Clinton Avenue Color Walk, Washington Square Park, the Clinton Avenue piano, the musical trees on the square, and the many murals in the heart of downtown.

The possibilities of creative placemaking are only limited by the imagination. Another interactive session at the conference will focus on this topic. At the event, guests will have the opportunity to join a group in creating a limited-time pop-up park with a “mystery box” of tactical urbanism and placemaking materials. It will require attendees to think on their feet and develop an impressive public space “MacGyver-style”.

What special events are taking place during the summit?

Wine tastings, bike tours, yoga sessions, art walks, concerts, panels, and hands-on creative sessions—these are all things attendees of the Place Branding & Placemaking Summit can expect (and much more).

From the moment they step foot off the plane and are welcomed into Huntsville, guests will see what makes our city one-of-a-kind.

The conference is happening May 15th-17th!

CLICK HERE to view the entire program for the event.

The Garage at Clinton Row—Winner of IDA Merit Award

In 2017, one of Crunkleton’s major development projects was recognized with a Certificate of Merit award from IDA. We are very excited to share that the closing ceremony for the summit will take place at that development—The Garage at Clinton Row.

Now serving as one of the city’s major retail destinations, The Garage is a fun venue that took an existing structure—a 40-year-old city parking deck—and created an atmosphere for shopping, mixing, and mingling.

In order to bring The Garage to life, Crunkleton redeveloped the first-floor frontage parking spaces into retail units. In the end, 15 spaces were transformed into the shops that live there today. It’s a destination that we continued to customize by adding decorative screening for the façade, incorporating neon signage, and constructing a permanent “parklet” to increase outdoor seating. A bike share station was also added nearby.

At the conference’s closing ceremony, attendees will be able to visit each shop at the development on a “progressive dinner tour”. There will also be plenty of live music and fun placemaking activities!

Registration Info:

The summit is open to anyone who wishes to learn more about creative place branding and placemaking!

If you are interested in attending, be sure to REGISTER HERE. We hope to see you there!

To learn more about the 2019 IDA Place Branding & Placemaking Summit, CLICK HERE.


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haley_squareHALEY CLEMONS

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