Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Second Fairhope 'Entertainment District' Proposed

Fairhope, Alabama

Update: Our reference to an "entertainment district" similar to the downtown is not to be confused with a formal 'Entertainment District' which may be authorized under Alabama law which allows alcohol to be consumed out of doors.

Nichols Avenue, east of Ingleside Drive


Industrial Board
The city's Industrial Development Board is finalizing a proposal for the city's second "arts and entertainment district" -- for industrially-zoned property generally along and south of Nichols Avenue to "compliment, not compete with" the downtown, according the chairman Bob Gentle.

Gentle envisioned the area as a budget-version of the exiting downtown, targeted primarily for "locals to enjoy," -- but also as an "incubator" for small/micro, start-up businesses which  may want to locate elsewhere someday (downtown?).

"A place for people to start ... without a lot of money ... then move to a permanent location later."

Local artists/crafters (metal, wood, etc.), food and beverage vendors, and "sustainable agriculture" such as weekly farmers markets were mentioned ("not necessarily all retail"): the mini warehouses already there could be an ideal location for such things if that can be worked out with the owner; vacant lots could be used as green space for outdoor activities (pocket parks, a pavilion?).

Another committee member said she had contacted the Downtown Merchants Association and they were "ok with it."

Bob Gentle at left
The successful Fairhope Roasting Company coffee shop and bakery is already there on Nichols: The Fairhope Brewery across Greeno Road would be included in the new district as well.

The possibility of converting the old Mediacom building on Middle Street to class 'A' office space was also mentioned; two interested companies  had to be turned away recently because none exits here, Gentle said.


As a first step, the city would be asked to install sidewalks and street lighting in the area beginning along Nichols Avenue where there are currently gaps; the Single Tax Corporation could be asked for help with funding, according to committee members.
Sherriy-Lea Botop at left

Improvements to the Greeno Road crosswalk and suitable signage will eventually be needed, too.

Local architects were to be approached for a conceptual design (the "overall scope"), and other committee members were working on a mission statement and district logo -- which will be presented to the city council in the near future.

There may be a possibility of obtaining grants for some of the proposals, according to the city's Community Affairs/Economic Director Sherry-Lea Botop.

Numerous other towns and cites have similar Warehouse/Arts Districts, including New Orleans  -- click.

The proposed district is the purple area in the center of the photo below, currently zoned for light industrial use:

North is to right


HANK said...

I think if there is good lighting, access, and plenty of parking, I think this would be a great move. I don't see what the "downtown merchants association" has to say the matter. Fairhope is Fairhope.

Anonymous said...

fantastic idea !!!!

Anonymous said...

I am laughing.. The parking is terrible.. It is hard enough to get down those roads now.
I like the idea, if there is better parking. The brewing parking is terrible. I travel Nichols, & you have to always watch for someone backing out fast from the business. For the Fairhope Roasting Company coffee shop and bakery it seems to have their parking under control a bit better. Both business seem to be doing great & I support both. They are there because it cost to much to rent or find a building downtown. The same thing will happen in that area as soon as businesses start moving in.
GROWTH>>> Just clean up the parking issues..

Anonymous said...

Not such a good idea for the existing small businesses that have been there for over 20 years.

Anonymous said...

As long as it remains family friendly and doesn't turn into a bunch of bars.

Anonymous said...

That would be awesome. Way to go Fairhope!

Anonymous said...

Great idea!

Anonymous said...

may be a good idea. why call in architects? just let it grow organically with each business upgrading the property. maybe it could become what downtown had been years ago. call in architects and it will end up look like everything else in Fairhope. no individuality.

Anonymous said...

I think Fairhope needs to do some upgrades,repair work ,and painting at the ball parks (valanta,founders,kid park ) before they start on anything elsa.The only thing in fairhope for the kids to do is play ball.All the public restrooms are in need of repair work or some up grading inside /outside of all restrooms.

Anonymous said...

I get the "feel" for Fairhope is art etc..but, unless you are in an organized sport there is not much kid friendly things to do. Would love to see a small bowling ally a place for the kids to go at night instead of just riding around in their cars for hours. I would rather keep my money here and not in Spanish Fort.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the city could assist in developing the infrastructure but let the area develop organically.

Anonymous said...

Let it develop organically unless the developer is named Corte you mean.

Anonymous said...

That's a good idea

Anonymous said...

We need more kid friendly thing to do like a bowling alley and skating rink