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Marketplace on the Square

You can feel the positive vibe that exists in our great downtown. From the successes of the Green Street Market, the Sidewalk Arts Stroll, and the numerous parades and events, there are many to thank for this.

It's been almost six years since I presented the following concept, so I thought with all the recent activity downtown, and the tireless efforts of so many, including the great work of the Arts Council, the downtown Museums, the Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the Mayor's Office, I'd go ahead and give it another go:

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The Marketplace on the Square proposal from Sam & Greg Hathorn of Sam & Greg's Pizzeria/Gelateria provides a pragmatic and affordable approach to bringing traditional green space back to the courthouse grounds. The idea is to permanently convert the north and south side roads into pedestrian spaces, complete with fountains, gazebos and green space for live music/performances, tables/chairs with community wi-fii to be used by the public, and guests of the surrounding restaurants and attractions, and maybe even a children's fountain on either the north or south side. This idea creates the traditional government promenade or piazza around our own center of government, much like you see in classic European cities.

This would create a safer environment because it would stop the congestion caused by the automobile traffic endlessly circling the courthouse, vying for the handful of parallel parking spaces that exist on the north and south sides. Better to re-institute slotted parking east and west of the courthouse on the two major thoroughfares which lead in and out of town center - Washington and Jefferson Streets. This would add approximately 50 parking spaces, and still leave room for a 10+ foot sidewalk on east and west side. Picture it - a safe pedestrian area that extends from the merchants on the south side, all the way around the courthouse to the merchants on the north side. Wouldn't that be a great and pedestrian-friendly use of space? Almost two football fields of pedestrian right-of-way on the interior Courthouse Square, and a perfect complement to the Square's 19th century architecture. I think it would be an urban-renewal concept that other local governments would come to see and model. If you haven't seen the entire concept, check out more info at: www.marketplaceonthesquare.com

Cheers!

Greg

Submitted by greghathorn 9 months ago

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  1. The idea was posted
    9 months ago

Comments (8)

  1. Short of actually removing the courthouse building this is a great idea. As an interim step in reclaiming the square for pedestrian scale and an open municipal people space it would this would help to establish better traffic flow and convert a built for car, to a built for people urban design pattern. Great idea!

    9 months ago
  2. This is the best idea I have seen for improving the look and feel of downtown. Great idea Larry.

    8 months ago
  3. Bar none, this is the best use of money to improve the square. Tearing down/rebuilding the courthouse is in the 100s of millions. This is barely double digit millions. Also, the BEST value for your money. For commerce- incoming rent & tax dollars per market space- and those market spaces are prime real estate. The remodel of the roadways to walkways pays for itself in a few years. For tourism- oh my gosh! Something for the people staying in all these new hotels we're building downtown to actually DO while they're here, where they don't have to drive! Tourism= walk-ability, period; see Chattanooga. Well done, Greg. I loved this the first time I saw it hanging on the wall of the restaurant. And I still hope to see it succeed. Plus, I hate the circular traffic on the square- exercise in futility!

    8 months ago
  4. While mostly I like the idea, angled spots are very hard to see backing out of. Traffic calming measures might be needed to slow traffic enough for safety. Also, better signage downtown. A lot of people turn at the square because they are lost or confused, and this would make it really rough.

    8 months ago
    1. greghathorn Idea Submitter

      They turn at the courthouse because they are given no information to do otherwise.

      6 months ago
  5. greghathorn Idea Submitter

    I agree with you that we definitely need signage directing folks to the parking garages. I think we need to reinstitute the left-hand turn from Washington onto Clinton so that people can access the parking garage more easily. As for the angled parking, I am often in Guntersville and they have slotted parking on both sides of highway 431 going through town and it works. The merchants are very happy to have that much parking available for the customers. As it stands now, the congestion around the square makes it very difficult to pull past a parallel parking spot and then back into it, because the car behind you is right on your bumper and they can't back up to give you the room you need. As a result, people try to pull straight into a parallel spot, which everyone knows does not work. I drafted a to-scale drawing of slotted parking on both the east and west side of the courthouse and gave it to the city planner last year. I was proposing slotted parking on the right-hand side of Washington and Jefferson, and not on the interior side of the roads next to the courthouse. Seemed better to leave all of the interior space around the courthouse as pedestrian only space. And, it would be great to slow the approaching courthouse traffic anyway possible. Maybe put up some fun signs that read "Drive Slowly, Artists at Work", or "Drive Slowly, Our Government at Work"

    8 months ago
  6. Obviously, rerouting traffic would be the place to start. Instigating use of a trolley system with scheduled stops to and from parking garages, historic district, art museum, civic center, etc. Pedestrian safe and convenient. Many cities, in the USA and abroad, have this. Go for it!

    8 months ago
  7. Here's a thought. Before spending the millions spend a couple thousand and just put in a few removable pillers to put at the end of those streets blocking them for events and evenings etc. (particularly on the A&E district nights) This would not be nearly as attractive as your idea, however it would be a step in the right direction for virtually no effort. Once we see how well that works, the next step would be to make a more permanent solution like you have suggested.

    8 months ago