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My name is Greg Hathorn, co-owner of Sam & Greg's Pizzeria on the North Side Square. Prior to opening the restaurant, I served twenty years as an officer of Sirsi Corporation, a downtown Huntsville technology company.

As my wife Sam and I sit outside our restaurant, we often find ourselves talking about the beautiful architecture that surrounds our courthouse square. We talk about visits to cities such as Savannah, Charleston and New Orleans. We recall the markets with friendly pedestrian ways offering vibrant, yet relaxing, environments for residents and tourists.

Marketplace on the Square, as I am calling it, is a concept designed for our downtown, which I believe captures the charm of old world markets, while also serving as the catalyst for further downtown revitalization and growth. It would be the perfect companion to our current downtown public offerings such as Harrison Brothers, Constitution Village, Big Spring International Park, Huntsville Museum of Art, EarlyWorks Children's History Museum, The Historic Depot, Von Braun Center, and the downtown historic residential districts.

On the north and south sides of the square, I am suggesting the removal of the streets. My justification is simple: these two, three-hundred foot stretches of road serve only to create circular congestion around the square, and have outlived their intended utility. On this reclaimed land, (almost two football fields of prime real estate) would sit pedestrian malls, complete with fountains, green areas, gazebos for entertainment, and the city markets, providing affordable retail space for our city's cottage businesses. See an architectural sketch.

Typically, City Markets are owned by the city, and space is rented to local artists, artisans, produce growers, and gourmet food producers, by the day, week, month, or permanently. The potential also exists for at least one of the market buildings to serve multiple purposes. For example, one building could be reserved for permanent renters, while the second building could be reserved for non-permanent (seasonal) renters. When not in use, the seasonal building would become a venue for parties and events, in the same manner as the city's Historic Depot Roundhouse.

I recognize this is an aggressive proposal, which is why I am now working to garner support from all stakeholders. I believe this project will be a win-win for all businesses and residents, as well as developers currently holding properties in the downtown area. Therefore, Sam and I, as well as those that have already endorsed Marketplace on the Square, would like to have your support.