HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Downtown Huntsville's latest retail experiment hosted a free grand opening event Thursday.
The ceremony is designed to officially welcome the eight small, locally owned businesses that currently comprise the Clinton Row Project. The new shopping area is on the ground floor of the Downtown Storage building at the corner of Clinton Avenue and Jefferson Street.
The grand opening celebration included live music and food trucks: Sugar Belle Cupcakes and Crave Heat.
Huntsville City Council President Mark Russell congratulated vendors and organizers for their hard work and ingenuity in his downtown district.
"We are so proud of the Clinton Row Project," Russell said. "We know small business is the backbone of Huntsville and we so appreciate these citizens investing in Huntsville."
The city's long-range planner Dennis Madsen called the project a win for downtown.
"This is the sort of imaginative, creative, innovative thinking that can really help make the most of our downtown."
Madsen also pointed out the venture is uniquely Huntsville's.
"We frequently get these questions about what are we going to do to be the next Chattanooga or the next Greenville or the next Austin - and what we're doing here really isn't any of those. This is uniquely Huntsville: these are Huntsville artisans and Huntsville craftspeople," Madsen said.
Businesses at the Clinton Row Project subleasing the space from Downtown Huntsville Inc. include Alabama Fashion Alliance, All-N-One Health & Convenience Store, Business Button, Christina Wegman Fine Art, J.A.R., LiveEasy, POSH Couture and Wood Tech.
Clinton Row will expand in May with the addition of Belle Chevre, the Elkmont-based goat cheese creamery. The Belle Chevre shop will offer to-go items and outdoor bistro tables so customers can drink wine and eat cheese on the sidewalk.
"We are planning the next Huntsville," Dennis Madsen emphasized, "and downtown really is ground zero for that effort."