Decatur Development Blog

Expansion and Development in the Greater Decatur area

My Idea for 2nd Ave

Posted by alalto on October 22, 2009


When you look at downtown, what do you see? A lot of cement, asphalt, and stone. Most of it, amazingly white and hot. It almost make it seem too hot to even get out of your car right? While there is a big streetscape project going on right now, but I feel that A LOT more could be done.

A big detriment to Decatur’s downtown is the fact that it isn’t truly centered around a body of water. If you look at the most successful and enjoyable downtowns in the country, they’re all on water, and they embrace it. New Orleans, New York, Chicago, Miami, Tampa, Nashville, Memphis, and the list goes on. In Alabama, Mobile, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Florence, etc… all do pretty good jobs of using the river to their advantage.

While we can’t move downtown physically and place it right next to river, there are some other things we can do. Think of the pocket park, or the fountain at Delano, or any other park that utilizes a water feature, they’re all big attractions that attract people and make a downtown area seem more enjoyable and not so “hot” and oppressive.

So here is my idea. We’re fortunate enough to have a good street grid in downtown. 2nd avenue is pretty heavily traveled, BUT, the streets that parallel 2nd are very underused and under traveled. Keeping that in mind, this is what I propose.

Tear up the road on 2nd avenue. Construct an artificial creek where the road used to be. A good example of what this entire thing might look like is centennial Olympic park in Atlanta:

Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta

Here is a map of what I propose:

2nd Avenue Decatur

Now, the above seems like it would disrupt all the efforts that the city is putting into the area, but that is simply not true. The streetscaping that they are doing mostly lies in the form of the sidewalks, which would be used, and expanded in this proposal.

Starting at Johnston Street, the road would be torn up and replaced with a creek-bed. Paralleling the creek would be a sidewalk on either side. I would propose a large waterfall somewhere down the road, maybe in front of Emiron Music or maybe next to the pocket park, to enhance the stream and turning it into more of a magnet. People like to see nature in downtown areas, and this is a great way to do it. Plus, this would create a cool spot to sit around on summer shopping trips in downtown for people to get away from all the heat.

At the foot of the creek, there would be a main plaza with a pond where the creek ends. I would propose putting in a grand fountain in the middle. This would act as a central location for downtown, or a true “square” something that Decatur probably hasn’t had since the mid 1800s.

This type of development would look like Bridge Street Towne center in Huntsville, except I’d think it would be better looking. It would make downtown look much much better, attract more people downtown, and would attract those boutique retail stores that cities all over the country are attempting to bring to town.

Would this be expensive? Yes, it would, but in my opinion, this is a sure fire way to bring people downtown.

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2 Responses to “My Idea for 2nd Ave”

  1. Heather Thompson said

    If you have not already checked it out, you may want to check out the Decatur Downtown Redevelopment Authority website at http://www.decaturdowntown.org. You can view some of the current projects going on, as well as the Envision Decatur plan which is serving as a guide to what’s going on. The Decatur Commons plan is similar to what you want, except it uses an existing area of water near 2nd Avenue.

  2. Longtimer said

    Second Avenue has already been torn up at least once. Early 1970s, federal money paid for the entire street to be ripped up with sidewalks rebuilt and canopies installed. Trouble was, they ripped it up right before Christmas. Eventually the project drove away and/or closed what few retail businesses remained. Everybody hated the canopies, and after 25 years, the city removed them (after a private firm showed the way). The little pocket park on 2nd has been re-built multiple times, but face it – nobody uses it.

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