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City eyes retail to lead continued development in downtown Huntsville

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)-- The former Crossroads Music Hall and Heritage Club buildings are vacant in downtown Huntsville.

Leaders in Huntsville say they'd be excited to see something happen with these properties. But that wish may soon come true.

"All of the ideas are in the concept stage, the negotiation stage," said Chad Emerson of Downtown Huntsville, Inc. "But we'll hope that some of the ideas start to shake loose in 2015."

Hope is a theme as the downtown continues to grow and fill with sites that keep visitors coming back.

Emerson confirms there's been interest in using the vacant buildings for retail space, but nothing is set in stone yet.

Barry Berman, realtor for the old Heritage Club building, says there's been "a good deal of interest" there, for small shops or entertainment venues to divide up the space in the large building. But no solid offers yet. He thinks it'll happen soon.

Emerson is of that mindset, too. He believes that retail is the "next big step" when it comes to recruiting new businesses to these locations.

"For a downtown to be complete, in addition to great food and beverage and entertainment options, you also need shopping options," he said.

Emerson believes these buildings are prime targets, both on major streets downtown and capable of supporting a mixture of uses from boutiques, to even bigger stores.

"Hopefully, eventually a larger anchor-type store," he commented.

The retail bandwagon is one Huntsville has already boarded.

Emerson is proud of what's come in so far, but is looking ahead and hoping to see even more.

"We've started that on a smaller scale with Clinton Row and the Greene Street Market store, and Harrison Brothers Hardware," he acknowledged, "but we're really starting to look at more expanded shopping."