People, places and events honored for adding vibrancy to downtown Huntsville

Straight to Ale won the DHI award for Development of the Year. (WHNT News 19)

Straight to Ale won the DHI award for Development of the Year. (WHNT News 19)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – Below freezing temperatures and the threat of winter weather did not keep a couple of hundred people from getting up early Friday to attend the annual Downtown Huntsville, Inc. awards breakfast.

Downtown Huntsville, Inc. (DHI) is responsible for the revitalization of downtown Huntsville through unique events, interesting promotions and dynamic new and redeveloped properties. The non-profit organization partners with city government, the private sector and other non-profits to make downtown more appealing.

Chad Emerson, DHI President & CEO, explained the awards honor people, events and development that make Huntsville more vibrant. “One of the things about downtown is it’s not just a geographic location, it’s the heart of the city. We also want to create places that people make emotional connections with, they find interesting, they want visit, they want to gather with. So that’s a part of our effort here, whether it be the renovations at Big Spring Park, the downtown book boxes and other projects, is to create places that people want to be not just because they need to be,  but they want to be there with people.”

This is the fourth year for the event held at the Von Braun Center’s Propst Arena.

This year’s winners include:

  • Advocate of the Year – Huntsville City Administrator John Hamilton
  • Event of the Year – NASA in the Park
  • Development of the Year – Straight to Ale & Campus No. 805

Event of the Year and Development of the Year are determined by a public vote hosted by AL.com.

Event of the Year Winner

2016 was the third year for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center to host the event which celebrates the city and space agency’s relationship.  More than 5,000 people attended the event which was held on June 18 in Huntsville’s Big Spring Park East.

The concept is to get the engineers and scientists from behind the gates at Redstone Arsenal so the public can learn about space endeavors, ask questions and hopefully inspire the next generation of explorers.

Development of the Year Winner

Straight to Ale & Campus 805 received the development of the year award for the revitalization of the old, abandoned Stone Middle School into a brewery and entertainment complex with space for outdoor events.

Leslie Burton, Communications Director for Straight to Ale said the community support for Campus 805 has been tremendous. “Huntsville is great for craft beer. We have a lot of scientists and engineers that really want to see the science behind making stuff.  It’s been great, especially because we make a wide variety of beers with a lot of different taste profiles and flavors so we found that we can find a beer for just about anybody and the community has been great at coming out.”

Straight to Ale conducts free tours of the brewer every Saturday.

The Campus 805 project has sparked other development in the area.  Bruton added, “A lot of business development has taken place in that area and we think of Campus 805 as the cornerstone. It’s also been very exciting that there are several more breweries that have moved in the same area. We’re creating kind of this brewery row as Downtown Huntsville, Inc. calls it.”