Placemaking projects provide interesting and inviting spaces downtown to sit, gather and actively experience spaces. Athens Main Street is a believer in the importance of placemaking in downtown Athens. We have partnered with several organizations in the past, such as The Exchange, Athens Arts League, and others in short-term projects such as the creation of Pop-up Parks and Pop-up Window Galleries.
The next Placemaking effort is a longer-term project. Athens Main Street has embarked on the revitalization of an alley central to downtown. The vision is to create a gathering spot for people of all ages, provide more space for outdoor dining, engage the community with art in several forms, entertain through impromptu music performances, and most importantly provide a place to engage with each other. This project will improve this alleyway in the heart of downtown Athens between 107 N. Jefferson St. and 105 N. Jefferson St. The alley connects N. Jefferson St. and public parking on Market St. and Madison St.
Our theme for the alley is “Amplify Athens.” With music at its core, this theme will resonate throughout the art. We plan a create a series of works of art that will engage in a multitude of ways, tell a story, and enhance our own identity as we explore our roots in art and music. We will commission a large mural at the entrance to attract the eye of passers by both pedestrian and motorists. Once in the alley, there will be doors to delight when opened to reveal murals that will be creatively refreshed to entice people to return to discover what is new behind the doors. We call these Art Portals. In addition, our plan is to engage our high school art programs by designating an existing large wooden barn door framed by an iron fire escape for their use to create that perfect urban Instagram spot. This would also be art that would change periodically.
As for the physical design, we are replacing the walking surface to create a vibrant pedestrian corridor linking the municipal parking lot and the core of Downtown, thus encouraging spending more time walking and interacting. We will incorporate bricks saved from our original 100+ year old streets. Our design for landscaping and furnishings will promote gathering at a small public scale. We will utilize string lighting the length of the alley, draping from building to building to create a festive atmosphere.
Merchants’ Alley Renovation Project News Releases
Merchants Alley Committee
- Gary Van Wagnen – Construction Manager
- Trisha Black
- Brad Mallette
- Denise Williams