ironchapman

Little Rock Projects List

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I admit I haven't kept up as much with Little Rock as I should. Seems like they recently built a new office building near the downtown area. But maybe that's been there for a little while now. Of course I think most people know about Clinton's Presidential Library. I belive Little Rock and North Little Rock have been competing against each other to build a baseball stadium. Other than that, you'll have to get more info from some Little Rock people around here.

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Since I mentioned something about minor league baseball I have a question for some Little Rock people. I was wondering how the Travelers were doing and how attendance has been going. We're supposed to be eventually getting a sports complex up in Springdale and one of the main goals they have is to get a minor league baseball team. It's great having all the Razorback sports up here, but it would be nice to also have something else. I was just curious how things were going in Little Rock to help get an idea of how things might be up here.

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I know I'm going to be forgetting about a lot of projects. I'll probably edit more in later. Here are all I know of (quotes from Arkansas Business):

2004/2005 Recap

Inland Maritime Musuem, on the banks of Arkansas River (in progress

"And, of course, central Arkansas had a banner year. North Little Rock landed the USS Razorback with more boats

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I forgot about some of those projects. I am still disappointed that northwest Arkansas wasn't selected as a site for one of the nature centers. It just seems silly for me to have to go down to Ft Smith to see the nature center that focuses on the Ozarks. I'm not sure if other parts of the state thought too much money has been spent recently in this part of the state so this is how they made up for it or what.

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Landmark for Little Rock competition (all speculation):

p74jackson1.jpg

p74cromwell1.jpg

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And here's the article:

Creating a landmark

The work to make an abandoned bridge a symbol

This much is certain.

Sometime next year the 120-year-old Junction Railroad Bridge will be reopened as a pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River connecting Little Rocks River Market entertainment district to North Little Rocks Alltel Arena. A $1.6 million matching grant from the state Highway and Transportation Department assures that much. What is less certain but very possible is that the bridge will see additional entertainment-oriented private development, either on the bridge itself or at either end. That idea of creating an inhabited bridge with restaurants or other development is being explored by the Junction Bridge Collaborative. This body consists of a county-appointed public facilities board and a group of interested citizens. They are coming up with ideas on what to do with the abandoned but structurally sound bridge that came into the hands of the city earlier this year.

In February the Arkansas Times urged local governments to turn the bridge into an icon for the area, using the bridge as a platform for a world-class structure that would both symbolize the city and be a social gathering place. The Times published a series of concept drawings from a number of local architects that depicted ideas of how the bridge might be developed. Proposals included restaurants, office space, a hotel attached to the north end of the bridge and a city park.

The bridge presents planners with a number of challenges, even for something as relatively simple as a pedestrian walkway. The southern end of the bridge is permanently raised over the ship channel, forcing pedestrians to climb stairs or stop and wait for an elevator from the main bridge level to the raised bridge portion and then down again. One solution is to build the walkway across the top of the superstructure of the lower bridge, which would put it almost exactly at track level of the raised portion of the bridge. In addition to creating a level walkway, this solution preserves the track level of the lower bridge portion for future development. Millie Ward, president of Stone Ward Advertising and this years president of the Downtown Partnership, has been a strong advocate for exploring private development options. Earlier this fall, Jim Schimmer, executive director of the Downtown Partnership, sent out about 50 packets to developers connected to the Urban Land Institute advising them of the availability of the bridge for redevelopment. Wards agency has also been in contact with CNN, the Wall Street Journal and a variety of trade magazines to get the word out about the interest from local government in seeing the bridge developed.

At a public meeting in August, a participant suggested that instead of widening the bridge to build a restaurant or shops, a developer could simply pull refurbished railroad dining cars onto the bridge and create a restaurant. A railroad buff attending the meeting added that a number of the old stainless steel cars were stored in Kansas City and were for sale. The length of the bridge could accommodate seven or eight cars, which could be used for a number of purposes, including the restaurant. That idea is now being championed by a number of committee members as the most practical way to place structures on the bridge. The pedestrian walkway would run above the train cars and would have stairs leading down to track level. In addition, the bridge could be widened with light steel walkways at track level to provide access to the train cars and possibly outdoor seating.

Another factor that will eventually play into the bridges future is the potential availability of inexpensive city-owned land adjacent to the north end of the bridge in North Little Rock. Available, that is, for the right idea. The possibility of a hotel or some type of entertainment complex that would tie into the bridge and complement the River Market entertainment district on the opposite end of the bridge has been bandied about.

(One prominent developer predicted, however, that a hotel was six years away, due to a raft of new rooms about to come into the downtown market from the new Radisson, Holiday Inn and a refurbished Legacy not to mention developer Jimmy Moses idea for a hotel at Second and Commerce Streets.)

At press time the Junction Bridge Collaborative was waiting on a report from McClelland Consulting Engineers that would identify any structural problems preventing construction of the pedestrian walkway above track level. If that hurdle is met, it is likely that the pedestrian walkway will get underway in January while the Downtown Partnership continues to look for the right developer and vision to create a spectacular destination.

--- By Alan Leveritt ---

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Fancified Marina, Downtown Little Rock:

If this project goes through, it will remind me of the beach-side cities: rows and rows of boats and upscale condos:

p76marina1.jpg

Central High Museum, Commemorative Coin:

"It has been a big day for the Central High National Historic Site.

A bill to create a commemorative coin cleared Senate committee. A companion bill has passed the House committee. It could raise $4 million for the historic site.

The Senate Appropriations committee has approved $5.1 million to build a permanent visitor center at the site. It still needs Senate and conference approval, but this is an important step in having a new center ready for the 50th anniversary of the school crisis in 2007."

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Here's something pretty cool that's going up on the North Little Rock (Dogtown, as it's affectionately known in these parts) side of the river. It's called Argenta Place, getting its name from the name for North Little Rock back in the city's early days. This picture is quite large, but I couldn't find a smaller one.

argentaplace%20002.jpg

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Whoa, that's really neat and different.

Definitely has that that real, "inner city," urban feel... not the flashy, glamorous, shiny, plastic look of most developments.

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One interesting project is the redevelopment of the old YMCA building. It is one of the projects being done by Tower Investments in the city.

Tower Investments YMCA

It is located just South of Arvest Bank's Little Rock headquarters. Also, across the street from Arvest is the new federal courthouse expansion. This is an $83 million dollar project.

The other project by Tower Investments is called Lafayette Square, which is a Main Street redevelopment.

Lafayette Square

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One interesting project is the redevelopment of the old YMCA building. It is one of the projects being done by Tower Investments in the city.

Tower Investments YMCA

It is located just South of Arvest Bank's Little Rock headquarters. Also, across the street from Arvest is the new federal courthouse expansion. This is an $83 million dollar project.

The other project by Tower Investments is called Lafayette Square, which is a Main Street redevelopment.

Lafayette Square

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Cool. According to the satellite image, it's right beside the tallest building in Arkansas, the Metropolitan National Bank Tower.

Pics:

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YMCA%20Artist%20Rendition%202.jpg

YMCA%20Bldg-Aerial%20Photo.jpg

Some Buildings in Lafayette Square:

homeTextTimes20boldItalic.jpg

Edited by johnnydr87

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There is a 200 million expansion going on at UAMS in mid-town. Some of the recent projects at this site include the Jackson T. Stephens Spine and Neuroscience Building:

building.jpg

Also, there is the Jones Eye Institute expansion:

JEI_3-31-05.jpg

Overview of UAMS:

campus2.jpg

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The Old Junction Bridge (former railroad) by the riverfront might be getting a nice facelift and converted to a pedestrian bridge/multiuse thingy. I would much prefer that it be turned into a nicer landmark as in my previous posts. I remember one of my first trips to Little Rock, when I was a little kid....thinking the bridges were hideous. They are rusting and in shabby condition from their unuse. Since the bridges are basically permanent, I'm glad they're making it useful. Here is a UALR report and photos:

Junction Bridge Conceptual Design report

February 11, 2004

Executive Summary: Junction Bridge Conceptual Design report

Presented to the Pulaski County Bridge Facilities Board

Presented by the professional team

The Bridge Design

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How is the Heifer International Global Village coming along? Or have they even started work on that? I remember hearing about it, but don't think I ever heard of of a time table mentioned about it.

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Last time I specifically passed by that part of Little Rock I saw a skeleton of the building. And that was a 1-3 months ago. It's probably much further along.

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It also looks to be somewhat close to the Clinton Presidential Library. So has that area of Little Rock really been booming? I thought I remembered an article talking about some nice restaurants opening up around that area to try to cater to some of the tourists.

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Definitely. I read that the library spawned over 1 billion in development before it was even completed. Hotel renovations, new buildings, new restaurants, etc.

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So I take it that's the booming part of town. Are any of the other areas in town booming like it? I've heard a lot of talk in the past about development in the western part of Little Rock. Seems like they wanted to build a mall and maybe some other stuff out there but there was some opposition and it didn't go through I believe.

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The Central Arkansas Transit has already done some studies (or is working on them at least) of the possibilities of light rail transit in the state:

Planning for Improved Transit

CAT wants to meet the needs of the growing and changing metropolitan area, and to do that we have to make plans for many improvements in our service, and this in turn will call for public transit services that are innovative and non-traditional. Large buses operating on fixed routes and schedules will always have a role, but other more flexible services will be needed if all of our citizens are to have true mobility. Our current plan was prepared in 1992, and while it was a good first effort, we have learned a lot in the past seven years by listening to the community.

We are developing a concept of transit services for suburban areas that cannot be served well by big buses on fixed routes. To get specific ideas before the public, we looked at three areas--West Little Rock, Southwest Little Rock, and the North Little Rock Industrial Park. What we are learning from these case studies will be applicable in the center city areas and other employment centers. The "Suburban Transit Study" was prepared by KFH of Bethesda, MD.

We are also near completion of a long-range rail corridor study. We've looked at service from downtown to the airport, service to Benton, Conway, and Jacksonville, streetcar lines on both sides of the river, and the I-630 and Cantrell corridors.

Finally, we cannot plan for improved transit apart the rest of the built environment. We provide comments and suggestions on to the Little Rock Planning Commission on proposed developments so transit service is more feasible. Sometimes this can be as simple as calling for sidewalks to and from the develpment. Others are more comples such as building, orientation, density, and land use mix.

Your comments on these and other needed services are needed as we develop one single plan that encompasses all the directions we need to be growing. Please write or email us with your opinions about the plans we should be making.

Suburban and Innovative Transit

CAT is finding ways to improve the productivity of its system and quality of service to customers. With the help of a community transportation planning consulting firm, CAT has completed a study (Suburban Transit Planning Study, 1999) of the need for transit in areas that have been under-served or where service is non-existent.

Large employers and community groups met with CATA and its consultant, KFH of Bethesda, Maryland, to discuss transit needs and issues. Innovations such as demand-response service, corridor service, and grouping were reviewed based on needs assessments and the service-area characteristics. Although the study is complete, the work continues. Staff recently travelled to Ft. Worth to see what the "T" transit service has experienced over the past year since implementing non-traditional service in place of the fixed route service in much of its service area. We will be looking for ways to implement innovative transit on an experimental basis.

Technology applications like Geographic Information Systems, automatic vehicle locators, mobile data terminals, and cellular communication devices will be considered in the future when non-traditional services can be implemented.

Regional Rail (CATA Rail)

Persons in Central Arkansas are interested in exploring transit options that would link the region with rail service. The Central Arkansas Regional Rail Project has been completed. It examines opportunities to implement fixed-route guideway transportation solutions in major travel corridors over the next 20 - 30 years.

Public meetings were held to hear comments from citizens about possible alignments and technology. A majority of respondents have said that a Regional Rail Project might offer convenient transit service with comparable travel time and savings to the single-occupant vehicle. They hoped it would also focus development in key transit corridors which would help reverse the trend toward urban sprawl.

This report is a stepping stone to a regional rail strategy and plan. It is meant to show the possibilities and the approximate magnitude of construction costs. It also describes the various rail and fixed guideway modes that are currently available. Finally, the report discusses changes that must occur in land development practices if any projects are to succeed.

Livable Communities Initiative

The Federal Transit Administration's Livable Communities Policy was introduced to demonstrate that the quality of life in cities and towns across America can benefit from positive transit projects. CAT is joining the Federal Transit Administration, and Little Rock and North Little Rock city governments to develop a project that takes advantage of this Policy. The first Livable Communities Policy project is in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. It involves streetscape and lighting projects to form improved "Pedestrian Linkages" that will enhance transit use. Other major components include a possible parking deck/intermodal facility in Little Rock and a working museum concept for the "Trolley Barn" where the River Rail streetcars will be housed and maintained. Additional museum and park concepts may be incorporated on the north side of the River.

CATA has asked Congress to set aside $15 million for this project. If fully funded, this could also pay for a second Livable Communities Policy project involving College Station. CATA has been involved with the Arkansas State Highway Department, Pulaski County, Metroplan, and the citizens of the College Station community in planning efforts to help rebuild College Station after a devastating tornado in March 1997 ravaged the community of about 1400 people.

Plans call for providing better transit linkages to connect people with jobs, education, recreation and health facilities outside and within the community. Some suggested ways of doing this are to coordinate shuttle service with employers, provide enhanced lighting, sidewalk construction, and landscaping for safety and security and to improve bus shelters and other transit amenities in the area. We hope that this project will serve as a model of community participation to stimulate redevelopment throughout College Station and other communities in Central Arkansas.

Transit links and more inviting gathering places will continue to flourish as we begin transit-friendly design efforts in downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock. The plan is to apply the livable communities concept to as many areas as possible to encourage a continuous path of well-planned, diverse, accessible, transit and pedestrian-oriented uses.

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I personally think it would be awsome to have LRT. I love the city feel you get from riding and commuting with it. Then again, I'm not sure if it would be supported in the state. LRT would work in downtown and midtown Little Rock, but I'm not so sure if you could extend the success to the suburbs, where everything is so spread out. Then again, their are important locations that I'm sure would get lots of people: War Memorial Park, Park Plaza Mall, Mccain Mall, and maybe a few of the other shopping centers.

The metrolink in St. Louis a light rail system and is very successful, especially during Fair Saint Louis, which is like Riverfest. Part of the reason why it's successful are the colleges in the vicinity. So, UAMS, UALR, and all of the Little Rock colleges would benefit from LRT.

I'd be interested in your thoughts on this....

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I agree with you it would be nice, but I am not sure how far out it would extend and whether how useful therefore it would be. They've also had discussions on a light rail system here in northwest Arkansas. I don't know if there is enough demand for it yet. But one of the things brought up about it, is to try to start something now before it gets even more expensive to do something in the future. I'd have some of the same concerns on what the extend of it would be up here too. It would be nice to use say if I wanted to go to Rogers. But if everything is spread out and designed more for getting around in a car it's not going to be a big help but to the things that are somehwhat close to that particular station. I could see it working if you say lived in Rogers and you wanted to visit Fayetteville. Maybe have a station near the mall area and have a station near the Dickson Street/Square area. But I don't know if it would work with things like going to work. I don't see it developing enough to have say someone who lives on the west side of Fayetteville using it to get to work in central Fayetteville. I guess the best way it would help is maybe cut down on the travelling between cities and take some of the traffic off of I-540. But I think most of the cities need to do more to make their cities more accessible for people walking and not using automobiles to get around. At least Fayetteville seems to be attempting to address the problem.

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Baseball stadium for Arkansas Travelers

2004_10-20_14-49-22-564.jpg

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There is news on the proposed NLR ballpark.

It appears that the fate of the ballpark will now rest in the hands of the residents of North Little Rock. Mayor Hays has proposed a two year one percent city sales tax that would generate approximately $32 million for the park. The proposal also calls for all excess revenue to be used on a senior center in NLR, which is apparently in need of expansion because of an unexpected large membership. I suspect that the attachment of the senior center to the deal is a move to gather support from the older population, which might not have enough interest in being taxed only for a new ballpark.

There are articles in both the Democrat Gazette and the Arkansas Business.

Edited by Arkansawyer

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The Mayor of LR announced that they are proceeding with plans to try to retain the Travelers in midtown by building a new park if necessay. He sees it as a way to bring development to the area. The NLR plans include private development where as the LR plans do not. Midtown is an area that has rejected development in the past and as a result they are now complaining that they are a dying area.

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