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A festival marketplace is a realization by James W. Rouse and the Rouse Company in the United States of an idea conceived by Benjamin C. Thompson of Benjamin Thompson and Associates for European style markets taking hold in the United States in an effort to revitalize downtown areas in major US cities in the late 20th century. Festival marketplaces were a leading downtown revitalization strategy in American cities during the 1970s and 1980s. The guiding principles are a mix of local tenants instead of chain stores, design of shop stalls and common areas to energize the space, and uncomplicated architectural ornament in order to highlight the goods.
In the second half of the 20th century, Rouse and his company became major developers of suburban strip shopping centers and pioneered large shopping malls. In many cities, these were seen as escalating the failure of retail businesses and causing further deterioration of older, downtown core areas.
In the late 1970s, Rouse and his company responded to critics of their suburban development by studying inner cities for similar development potential despite the widely held belief of investors and developers that downtown areas were both dirty and dangerous and not desirable destinations for their residents. In response, inspired by projects such as Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, the Rouse Company worked with architects, urban planners, and city governments to develop the festival marketplace concept as a way to reverse the negative trends and to attract both suburban residents and out-of-town visitors to the downtown areas.
A typical festival marketplace would include local involvement in the creation of a safe and trendy attraction intended to serve as a major catalyst for other redevelopment. Generally, a festival marketplace offers major restaurants, specialty retail shops, and an international food court. Often, there is an exciting nightlife with music, dancing and live entertainment. The more successful projects seemed to benefit from waterfront locations and secure parking.
List of festival marketplaces
- Underground Atlanta, Atlanta, Georgia
- Harborplace, Baltimore, Maryland
- Faneuil Hall, Boston, Massachusetts
- Navy Pier, Chicago, Illinois
- Aloha Tower Marketplace, Honolulu, Hawaii
- Jacksonville Landing, Jacksonville, Florida
- The Grove at Farmers Market, Los Angeles, California
- Hollywood and Highland, Los Angeles, California
- Bayside Marketplace, Miami, Florida
- Jackson Brewery, New Orleans, Louisiana
- Riverwalk, New Orleans, Louisiana
- South Street Seaport, New York City
- Waterside, Norfolk, Virginia
- Jack London Square, Oakland, California
- Arizona Center, Phoenix, Arizona
- Station Square, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Westfield Horton Plaza, San Diego, California
- Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco, California
- Pier 39, San Francisco, California
- St. Louis Union Station, St. Louis, Missouri
- Union Station (Washington, D.C.), Washington, D.C.
- Tower City Center. Cleveland, Ohio
- Water Street Pavilion, Flint, Michigan
- Union Station, Indianapolis, Indiana
- Portside, Toledo, Ohio
- Erie Street Market, Toledo, OH
- Sixth Street Festival Marketplace, Richmond, Virginia 
- Festival Market, Lexington, Kentucky-(Opened in 1986, closed in the early 1990s.)
- Saint Anthony Main, Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Bandana Square, Saint Paul, Minnesota
- Cray Plaza, Saint Paul, Minnesota
- West End Marketplace, Dallas, Texas
- Maitland, Barry (1990). The New Architecture of the Retail Mall. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold. pp. 25–26. ISBN 1854548158.
- Blueprints Magazine Spring 1988 cover
- Ledbetter, Erik. "Rethinking Adaptive Reuse, or, How Not to Save a Great Urban Terminal". Railway Preservation News. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
- Mack, Linda (August 20, 2002). "Architect Benjamin Thompson remembered for St. Paul legacy - The St. Paul native's artistic conception of a lush, forested Mississippi River Valley spurred the city's return to the riverfront.". Star Tribune. "Thompson designed Minneapolis' first festival marketplace , the first part of St. Anthony Main in the early 1980s."