See Downtown Huntsville’s ‘Pop Up Parks’ This Weekend

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Downtown Huntsville, Inc. CEO Chad Emerson shows how to enjoy a pop up park.

Downtown Huntsville, Inc. CEO Chad Emerson shows how to enjoy a pop up park.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Starting today the downtown Huntsville square is peppered with parking spaces that have been transformed into public gathering spaces for the next three days.

The idea of the friendly pop up park competition is ‘to move out the cars, bring in the people.’

Downtown Huntsville, Inc., a downtown revitalization organization, is starting small with this first-time effort as a way to introduce it to the community.

“We had an initial deal with the city to start with 12 spaces but we actually had tons more interest even this first time out than we even had room for,” says Downtown Huntsville, Inc. CEO Chad Emerson.

All of the parks, which are spread around the Madison County Courthouse Square as well as on Jefferson and Washington Streets, have to occupy their single parking space and can be no wider than six feet. But even those parameters give enough room for plenty of fun.

“The idea is to introduce some of these eclectic and fun things to downtown,” says Emerson. “There’s a lot of big permanent projects – the Holiday Inn redevelopment and Twickenham Square – but then you need these temporary or pop up projects which on a weekend introduces people to what could be and what are some interesting ways of re-examining say, a parking space.”

The parks will actually be rated by a secret panel of judges who will sneak around like secret shoppers and take notes on each project. The parks will be judged by sustainability, creativity, interactivity, durability and ‘wow factor.’

The designs range from simple bales of hay for seating, an interactive life-sized version of the classic game Twister, to a zen garden, a landscaped coffee bar and even a pop up tropical oasis.

Emerson says aside from the fun, the projects have actually been effective team building exercises for the companies involved.

“Oh, absolutely,” says Drew Wharton of 4Site, Inc. “We practically had the whole team of twenty working on this thing off site and it was great to bounce ideas off each other.”

The parklets will be in place during entertainment district hours this week which gives downtowners an extra activity to enjoy while patronizing their favorite local vendors.

The pop up parks will pack up Saturday.

“Only three days this time, but this could be done any time of the year – the interest is there and expansion in the future is very viable,” says Chad Emerson.


  • Mike

    I seriously hope the city didn’t waste money on this… What are they hoping to accomplish?

    If you want to breathe life into downtown, find some real businesses to move into the many abandoned buildings. Currently, the only people that seem interested in opening up shop downtown are lawyers.

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