Never underestimate the attraction of a public market. Crowds at the fish market in downtown Seattle’s Pike Place love a crazy tradition – employees throw fish through the air, caught at the counter and wrapped for customers. Not only is Pike Place the city’s most popular destination, it’s the 33rd most visited attraction in the world with over 10 million annual visitors.
No doubt about it, people gravitate to a thriving marketplace. Downtown Anniston will soon have its own outdoor market, and although fish tossing is unlikely, it is likely to be a major attraction as well.
The city purchased the former Anniston Auto Parts Store and adjacent buildings to convert into an open-air market, located a block away from the new Freedom Riders Monument.
Anniston-based architect Bill Whittaker is renovating six damaged building in Anniston’s downtown historic district into the market complex, which will include bathrooms, office space for Main Street Anniston, a community garden and an area for food trucks and open cooking.
The open-air market will take up 15,850 square feet, and 1,450 square feet is for the Main Street Anniston office and restrooms. Construction starts September 2022 and the project is expected to be completed by February 2023.
The objective, says Whittaker, is to “maintain the past on this street front, but look to the future on the adjacent storefront. So, the building has two faces and it ties the past to the future. I think that’s a win for any community,”
Much of the roof was gone from the damaged buildings, so the complex was already on its way to an open-air function. The façade of the auto parts building will remain intact along with the signage. The existing structural steel columns and beams will remain as well, and a new skin of cloth canopies are to be installed.
The salvaged façade will be cleaned and painted, and the original signage will be repaired and illuminated. The existing single-pane windows will remain and will be repainted.
The community garden will be maintained by the Oxford Garden Club located in the neighboring town. Two compartments set back from the façade are to be removed to allow space for the food trucks and outdoor cooking.
Also nearby is city hall and the new federal courthouse, along with the trailhead of the Chief Ladiga Trail, which is part of the Rails to Trails program. Once completed, the trail will stretch 33 miles to the Alabama-Georgia border. Even without its latest extension, the Chief Ladiga trail is considered the nation’s longest paved trail.
Such an ideal location is bound to attract plenty of people to the market. “It kind of checks all the boxes,” Whittaker notes. “It gives them a reason to be here besides selling. It is a place for everyone to gather and talk to each other.”
*Article Written by Jessica Armstrong and Images Courtesy of Bill Whittaker Architecture