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The Stephens Empire: Big Plans for Downtown LR?

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As many of you know, billionaire Warren Stephens has been buying up all kinds of land in downtown LR, including a bunch along Main Street. He's donating part of it to the Rep, and has kept his other plans under wraps. There are rumblings that he's about to put his plan into action.

Question is: what will it be? My opinion, knowing Stephens' flair for the dramatic (Alotian, the tiff with UA during the stadium debate, etc.), is that we will see some sort of major development, probably a new mid-to-high rise. I've always loved just about everything they have done, so I'm sure we won't be dissapointed.

Here is an article from the Arkansas Times with some notes and speculation:

http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/ArticleVi...1d-a86dc5ec54b5

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Aporkalypse    1

As many of you know, billionaire Warren Stephens has been buying up all kinds of land in downtown LR, including a bunch along Main Street. He's donating part of it to the Rep, and has kept his other plans under wraps. There are rumblings that he's about to put his plan into action.

Question is: what will it be? My opinion, knowing Stephens' flair for the dramatic (Alotian, the tiff with UA during the stadium debate, etc.), is that we will see some sort of major development, probably a new mid-to-high rise. I've always loved just about everything they have done, so I'm sure we won't be dissapointed.

Here is an article from the Arkansas Times with some notes and speculation:

http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/ArticleVi...1d-a86dc5ec54b5

Jack was the big golfer and the Alotian was his big thing, Warren was the one really backing downtown investment. With Jack's passing you have to wonder if this will be an even bigger focus and if his motives are altruistic or for investment purposes or both. The Rep is a great cause and a quality community theatre group and Stephens's support of it has been magnificent. I hope the new theater is first rate.

This issue with Iriana's has been brewing for a while as they really have been adamant about not wanting to leave. They have great pizza and I hope they continue to stay in business downtown.

That building is fairly modern and in good condition, it would be a little strange to tear it down unless a mega-project was planned. Still, anything in that section of Clinton Ave is as prime real estate as you can find in Arkansas.

I know when Warren bought the old Center Theater down there he was quite excited about and was dismayed when the old Dillard's/MM Cohn was purchased for a homeless shelter. Sounds like that shelter deal's off now because of the residential project with the Lafayette and Boyle Buildings. Theres' no reason Main couldn't become first class and it has to be the direction things move now, they have nowhere else to go.

Any word on the original Donaghey building?

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Arkansawyer    0

Jack was the big golfer and the Alotian was his big thing, Warren was the one really backing downtown investment. With Jack's passing you have to wonder if this will be an even bigger focus and if his motives are altruistic or for investment purposes or both. The Rep is a great cause and a quality community theatre group and Stephens's support of it has been magnificent. I hope the new theater is first rate.

This issue with Iriana's has been brewing for a while as they really have been adamant about not wanting to leave. They have great pizza and I hope they continue to stay in business downtown.

That building is fairly modern and in good condition, it would be a little strange to tear it down unless a mega-project was planned. Still, anything in that section of Clinton Ave is as prime real estate as you can find in Arkansas.

I know when Warren bought the old Center Theater down there he was quite excited about and was dismayed when the old Dillard's/MM Cohn was purchased for a homeless shelter. Sounds like that shelter deal's off now because of the residential project with the Lafayette and Boyle Buildings. Theres' no reason Main couldn't become first class and it has to be the direction things move now, they have nowhere else to go.

Any word on the original Donaghey building?

I'm really glad that its looking like the Rep will get a new home. With this development, along with the Lafayette Square project, Main Street seems well on its way to being revitalized. It could turn out to be a cool area for the arts. The River Rail would be a great way to connect the River Market and a successful Main Street.

I hadn't heard about Iriana's having to move. That really is a cool place. According to the article, they're looking for a new location downtown, closer to the River Market. Even though Iriana's is fixed up cool, the building is nothing special. I'm eager to see what plans Stephens has for the property. Downtown has been growing so fast that perfectly functional buildings are being torn down for bigger and better things. I like it. :)

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Jack was the big golfer and the Alotian was his big thing, Warren was the one really backing downtown investment. With Jack's passing you have to wonder if this will be an even bigger focus and if his motives are altruistic or for investment purposes or both. The Rep is a great cause and a quality community theatre group and Stephens's support of it has been magnificent. I hope the new theater is first rate.

This issue with Iriana's has been brewing for a while as they really have been adamant about not wanting to leave. They have great pizza and I hope they continue to stay in business downtown.

That building is fairly modern and in good condition, it would be a little strange to tear it down unless a mega-project was planned. Still, anything in that section of Clinton Ave is as prime real estate as you can find in Arkansas.

I know when Warren bought the old Center Theater down there he was quite excited about and was dismayed when the old Dillard's/MM Cohn was purchased for a homeless shelter. Sounds like that shelter deal's off now because of the residential project with the Lafayette and Boyle Buildings. Theres' no reason Main couldn't become first class and it has to be the direction things move now, they have nowhere else to go.

Any word on the original Donaghey building?

Yeah, I realize that Jack was really the driving force behind Alotian but Warren really oversaw the project and was the "mastermind" according to the media. But, you are right, it would not have happened without Jack's history with golf.

Anyway, it's just complete speculation on my part, but I really believe that building is going to be torn down to make way for something huge. You made a great point before: Jack's passing makes way for Warren to really begin to exert his influence on Little Rock. Jack gave liberally to UAMS, UALR, and other wonderful causes. While I'm sure Warren has and will give plenty to charities over the years, it seems to me he really loves Little Rock and wants to see it grow. In my mind, there is no doubt that he wants to leave a mark on Little Rock like Trump has left on NYC. Once again, this is just speculation, but I wouldn't be a bit suprised to see him announce the new tallest building in the state: the first fifteen or so floors occupied by a fancy hotel, then either office space or condos the rest of the way.

There have also been other rumblings of projects Stephens has going on, and some think when he announces his plans for Main Street it will be more like a multi-building, step-by-step project rather than a single building development. For instance, he has retained several acres adjacent to the land that he donated for the new ballpark in NLR. One interesting fact (that is heresay, but seems reasonable) about the ballpark land donation is that Stephens had one demand: that it was to be built so that it could be expanded to seat 10,000 people in order to accomodate a AAA club one day. Anyway, that is neither here nor there: back to the acres he retained next to the new ballpark. I have heard some say that he will build some type of mid-to-high rise condo/apartment tower here, it just makes sense. There will no doubt be retail and places to eat sprinkled in, probably with a posh club for Stephens to hang out in and peer over into the ballpark. Anyway, that is not speculation on my part, but what a friend that works with Stephens Inc. told me(who has no inside information, but you know how word spreads - could be complete BS so take it with a grain of salt). With the demand for condos in downtown LR, I could also see him buidling a condo mid-rise in the city. He is, after all, a pragmatic businessman and can no doubt see a money making opportunity when there is one.

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skirby    59

The first plans for the Rep called for it to be located between 2nd and 3rd on Main. Now it has been moved further south to the block between 4th and Capitol on Main. Will the property between 2nd and 3rd also be used with the redevelopment of the old bus station between Markham and 2nd? Has anyone thought about the possibility of Mr. Stephens and Belz Enterprises going together for the redevelopment? Belz has redeveloped the area around the Peabody in Memphis and the Peabody in LR is across the street.

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Arkansawyer    0

The first plans for the Rep called for it to be located between 2nd and 3rd on Main. Now it has been moved further south to the block between 4th and Capitol on Main. Will the property between 2nd and 3rd also be used with the redevelopment of the old bus station between Markham and 2nd? Has anyone thought about the possibility of Mr. Stephens and Belz Enterprises going together for the redevelopment? Belz has redeveloped the area around the Peabody in Memphis and the Peabody in LR is across the street.

That's an interesting thought. Peabody Place in Memphis turned out great, so I'd like to see what he'd do in Little Rock. Do you know if there's any history between Stephens and Belz?

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Aporkalypse    1

That's an interesting thought. Peabody Place in Memphis turned out great, so I'd like to see what he'd do in Little Rock. Do you know if there's any history between Stephens and Belz?

I don't know that but the Capitol and Peabody are competitors of sorts.

Belz is first class and I'd like to see him more involved in Little Rock. Everything he touches in Memphis turns to gold.

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skirby    59

Does Stephens property holdings help or hurt downtown LR development? He started work on the Center Theater but this came to a halt. Now he is taking down the bus station for a parking lot. He will have two blocks of parking along Main. Does his holdings drive up other property prices and prevent other development? By giving land for the ballpak he now has the say so for property development on city land next to the park. If he has plans, that is one thing, but I would hate to see him just holding the property. I don't think Main Street can develop without him doing something.

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Does Stephens property holdings help or hurt downtown LR development? He started work on the Center Theater but this came to a halt. Now he is taking down the bus station for a parking lot. He will have two blocks of parking along Main. Does his holdings drive up other property prices and prevent other development? By giving land for the ballpak he now has the say so for property development on city land next to the park. If he has plans, that is one thing, but I would hate to see him just holding the property. I don't think Main Street can develop without him doing something.

The areas around Capitol and Main should be Arkansas' main street. Its probably the densest devloped few square blocks in the state. Walking around down there you almost get the sense that you are truly in a big city. There are so many great buildings down there.

I'd love to see main turn into an entertainment and shopping destination. At the old rep, getting out to go inside under the lit canopy of the theatre, you can for a split second feel like you are in LA or New York going to a premier..

With the condo boom aparently reaching every part of the country at this time and increased interest in urban living, I could see a new 40-50 story high rise with a hotel on the bottom, office in the middle and upscale penthouse condos with the best views in the state on the top 15 or so floors.

That would be great and really do a lot to elevate LR's status around the country.

Visionary, people, we need a visionary!

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Aporkalypse    1

The areas around Capitol and Main should be Arkansas' main street. Its probably the densest devloped few square blocks in the state. Walking around down there you almost get the sense that you are truly in a big city. There are so many great buildings down there.

I'd love to see main turn into an entertainment and shopping destination. At the old rep, getting out to go inside under the lit canopy of the theatre, you can for a split second feel like you are in LA or New York going to a premier..

With the condo boom aparently reaching every part of the country at this time and increased interest in urban living, I could see a new 40-50 story high rise with a hotel on the bottom, office in the middle and upscale penthouse condos with the best views in the state on the top 15 or so floors.

That would be great and really do a lot to elevate LR's status around the country.

Visionary, people, we need a visionary!

Interesting, that's the one part of downtown that I think we made the same mistakes Dallas did in the 70s and 80s. In the quest for flashy office buildings we eliminated any pedestrian-friendly aspects to it. Skywalks and a lack of ground-level retail, etc are all that's left. Thankfully, it's a patch that occurred that way instead of the entire downtown, which is the case in Dallas. Adjacent areas such as that on Main are still walkable and can be renovated to create a vibrant downtown more like Ft Worth.

I learned something interesting the other day, that Ft Worth's downtown is almost entirely owned by a single very wealthy citizen. If you've been over there you know that Ft Worth's medium-sized downtown is a nearly perfect example of what downtown development should be - pedestrian-friendly, historically preserved with abundant ground-level retail and restaurants and few gaps. Apparently, rents are lowered for projects the owner has a penchant for and will ultimately help downtown, ultimately increasing the value of all of his property.

What do we have in common? If Warren Stephens wants to he can do the same thing in Little Rock, he has the money and influence. All it takes is one visionary.

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Interesting, that's the one part of downtown that I think we made the same mistakes Dallas did in the 70s and 80s. In the quest for flashy office buildings we eliminated any pedestrian-friendly aspects to it. Skywalks and a lack of ground-level retail, etc are all that's left. Thankfully, it's a patch that occurred that way instead of the entire downtown, which is the case in Dallas. Adjacent areas such as that on Main are still walkable and can be renovated to create a vibrant downtown more like Ft Worth.

I learned something interesting the other day, that Ft Worth's downtown is almost entirely owned by a single very wealthy citizen. If you've been over there you know that Ft Worth's medium-sized downtown is a nearly perfect example of what downtown development should be - pedestrian-friendly, historically preserved with abundant ground-level retail and restaurants and few gaps. Apparently, rents are lowered for projects the owner has a penchant for and will ultimately help downtown, ultimately increasing the value of all of his property.

What do we have in common? If Warren Stephens wants to he can do the same thing in Little Rock, he has the money and influence. All it takes is one visionary.

In Ft Worth its the Bass family. The downtown streetscape over there puts Dallas to shame. Its a great place to be, and coincidentally has one of the lowest office vacancy rates in the nation.

In LR, we're talking about the area that was turned into an outdoor mall at one time and the streets were blocked off for a decade, right?

There is plenty of real streetscape that can be revamped and given new life around Main and Capitol. Its still the most "urban feeling" area of anyplace in Arkansas.

Stephens could do it if he wanted to.

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Aporkalypse    1

In Ft Worth its the Bass family. The downtown streetscape over there puts Dallas to shame. Its a great place to be, and coincidentally has one of the lowest office vacancy rates in the nation.

In LR, we're talking about the area that was turned into an outdoor mall at one time and the streets were blocked off for a decade, right?

There is plenty of real streetscape that can be revamped and given new life around Main and Capitol. Its still the most "urban feeling" area of anyplace in Arkansas.

Stephens could do it if he wanted to.

I think it was Main that was blocked off, not Capitol. I remember how weird it was when they opened it again.

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skirby    59

I think it was Main that was blocked off, not Capitol. I remember how weird it was when they opened it again.

Main was blocked off along with part of Capitol between Louisiana and Main. This part of Capitol is going to get a facelift from city bond money.

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Aporkalypse    1

Main was blocked off along with part of Capitol between Louisiana and Main. This part of Capitol is going to get a facelift from city bond money.

Capitol should be kept in prime condition, the way the Capitol looms over the horizon on the street really makes it one of the most picturesque urban streets in Arkansas.

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Mith242    69

Capitol should be kept in prime condition, the way the Capitol looms over the horizon on the street really makes it one of the most picturesque urban streets in Arkansas.

Yeah that street has a lot of potential. I can't tell you very well about it because I walked it at night to go take pics of the Capitol. Seems like maybe there were some areas that could use a little work but that would be a nice picturesque street to develop.

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NewTowner    0

There is plenty of real streetscape that can be revamped and given new life around Main and Capitol. Its still the most "urban feeling" area of anyplace in Arkansas.

I would actually have to disagree...the Bathhouse row in Hot Springs is the most "urban-feeling" area in Arkansas in my opinion. But I should probably introduce myself, having never posted on the Arkansas forum before...I more or less grew up in North Little Rock, doing a stint in North Little Rock High School before shuffling off to college in Nashville. I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, where I am getting a Masters in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I want to get a job in development, with the express intention of helping to reform land use in America (rebuilding cities, small towns, coherent communities, etc.). I may even return to Little Rock some day...and put some sweat in for my roots.

The River City gets better everytime I visit, and I always try to support and make the most of it...I even got engaged to a great girl in the River Market this Christmas...but there is still a lot of quite outdated thinking out there, which makes me afraid that the passion and energy so many Little Rockers have for their city will be misspent on skyscrapers and other "big city-looking" stuff. I agree with the postings on this forum which speak out in favor of pedestrian-friendly, human-scaled, mixed-use streetscapes which thrive with life and enoble all those who participate in its (hopefully created) public wealth.

I am optimistic about Little Rock...but I have to say, the countless number of foreign and domestic architects and urbanists whom I have taken to Arkansas in order to shatter their lame stereotypes about the place are always pleasantly stunned by Hot Springs but barely moved by Little Rock. The Quawpaw Quarter and the River Market (minus Parking Mall and fractured riverfront) are much more like the kinds of places Little Rockers should be striving to create than an outdated vision of the failed Modernist (or Postmodernist, or Deconstructivist, or whatever) city of glass and steel. I am not old-fashioned--but I do believe we should strive for beauty and sustainability and dignity rather than fashion or urbanity for its own sake.

But all you guys rock, and Little Rock will always have a piece of my heart, and I think the place will likely do some amazing things in the years to come. A visionary is needed, of course...but more importantly, Little Rock needs a vision. And it should not, by any means, be some overcompensation for a lack of skyscrapers or modern avant-garde nonsense. A new 40 story building is the LAST thing the city needs...rather, ten beautiful new 4 story buildings...

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I would actually have to disagree...the Bathhouse row in Hot Springs is the most "urban-feeling" area in Arkansas in my opinion. But I should probably introduce myself, having never posted on the Arkansas forum before...I more or less grew up in North Little Rock, doing a stint in North Little Rock High School before shuffling off to college in Nashville. I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, where I am getting a Masters in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I want to get a job in development, with the express intention of helping to reform land use in America (rebuilding cities, small towns, coherent communities, etc.). I may even return to Little Rock some day...and put some sweat in for my roots.

The River City gets better everytime I visit, and I always try to support and make the most of it...I even got engaged to a great girl in the River Market this Christmas...but there is still a lot of quite outdated thinking out there, which makes me afraid that the passion and energy so many Little Rockers have for their city will be misspent on skyscrapers and other "big city-looking" stuff. I agree with the postings on this forum which speak out in favor of pedestrian-friendly, human-scaled, mixed-use streetscapes which thrive with life and enoble all those who participate in its (hopefully created) public wealth.

I am optimistic about Little Rock...but I have to say, the countless number of foreign and domestic architects and urbanists whom I have taken to Arkansas in order to shatter their lame stereotypes about the place are always pleasantly stunned by Hot Springs but barely moved by Little Rock. The Quawpaw Quarter and the River Market (minus Parking Mall and fractured riverfront) are much more like the kinds of places Little Rockers should be striving to create than an outdated vision of the failed Modernist (or Postmodernist, or Deconstructivist, or whatever) city of glass and steel. I am not old-fashioned--but I do believe we should strive for beauty and sustainability and dignity rather than fashion or urbanity for its own sake.

But all you guys rock, and Little Rock will always have a piece of my heart, and I think the place will likely do some amazing things in the years to come. A visionary is needed, of course...but more importantly, Little Rock needs a vision. And it should not, by any means, be some overcompensation for a lack of skyscrapers or modern avant-garde nonsense. A new 40 story building is the LAST thing the city needs...rather, ten beautiful new 4 story buildings...

Nice post and welcome.

I have only been to Bathhouse Row once. I have to say that it definitely has a nice cluster of beautiful historic buildings. I disagree about the urban feel however. Hot Springs feels touristy. All the shops across from the bathhouses sell t shirts, etc.. although there are some good restaurants. And its all on the side of a hill. There's nothing behind the bathouses that makes it urban, although the hillside and the trails are nice. They are more touristy, etc.

I said what I said about Capitol/Main area because of the density of development and the cluster of rather big buildings. It has a real urban streetscape, although largely vacant, but it has the bones to be a true urban neighborhood once again.

all jmo

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Aporkalypse    1

I would actually have to disagree...the Bathhouse row in Hot Springs is the most "urban-feeling" area in Arkansas in my opinion. But I should probably introduce myself, having never posted on the Arkansas forum before...I more or less grew up in North Little Rock, doing a stint in North Little Rock High School before shuffling off to college in Nashville. I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, where I am getting a Masters in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I want to get a job in development, with the express intention of helping to reform land use in America (rebuilding cities, small towns, coherent communities, etc.). I may even return to Little Rock some day...and put some sweat in for my roots.

The River City gets better everytime I visit, and I always try to support and make the most of it...I even got engaged to a great girl in the River Market this Christmas...but there is still a lot of quite outdated thinking out there, which makes me afraid that the passion and energy so many Little Rockers have for their city will be misspent on skyscrapers and other "big city-looking" stuff. I agree with the postings on this forum which speak out in favor of pedestrian-friendly, human-scaled, mixed-use streetscapes which thrive with life and enoble all those who participate in its (hopefully created) public wealth.

I am optimistic about Little Rock...but I have to say, the countless number of foreign and domestic architects and urbanists whom I have taken to Arkansas in order to shatter their lame stereotypes about the place are always pleasantly stunned by Hot Springs but barely moved by Little Rock. The Quawpaw Quarter and the River Market (minus Parking Mall and fractured riverfront) are much more like the kinds of places Little Rockers should be striving to create than an outdated vision of the failed Modernist (or Postmodernist, or Deconstructivist, or whatever) city of glass and steel. I am not old-fashioned--but I do believe we should strive for beauty and sustainability and dignity rather than fashion or urbanity for its own sake.

But all you guys rock, and Little Rock will always have a piece of my heart, and I think the place will likely do some amazing things in the years to come. A visionary is needed, of course...but more importantly, Little Rock needs a vision. And it should not, by any means, be some overcompensation for a lack of skyscrapers or modern avant-garde nonsense. A new 40 story building is the LAST thing the city needs...rather, ten beautiful new 4 story buildings...

I think the people that run the city get that idea, even if some of the citizens do not. I don't think anyone wants more 40-story office buildings with omnipresent vacancy signs. I think the first emphasis is on renovating and converting existing historic buildings and the second is on building new ones that fit the area such as the Arkansas Capital Commerce Center and First Security Center. The condo builders and Acxiom broke with this - Acxiom is the only tenant of that building on downtown's fringe and the condo builders are building with specific buyers in mind. Still, I would've like to see designs that blended with the area a bit better. The Block 2 Lofts, Tuf-Nut Lofts, Dailey Building Lofts, and the planned projects to revamp the YMCA and most of Main including Donaghey, the Lafayette/Boyle/M.M. Cohn's block, etc are exactly the type of projects we need. Restoring storefronts there to more of a 1930s format as opposed to a 1970s one would help Main's revival.

LR's doing a good job but it is a functional city, not a tourist destination. A lot of people might think its' a lot nicer than what they thought LR would have to offer but it's nothing they haven't seen elsewhere. Places like Hot Springs, New Orleans, and Savannah are rare gems.

Hot Springs may be more beautiful and architecturally significant but I don't agree it's more urban. I think I just use a different definition of urban. I do like the way the steel and glass blends with a lot of historic buildings in Little Rock, I think it is a nice mix currently but I wouldn't advocate altering that mix by building more modern buildings. Those modern buildings will be just as dated in 40 years as the 1960s buildings are now while the historic ones will be priceless.

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Mith242    69

I would actually have to disagree...the Bathhouse row in Hot Springs is the most "urban-feeling" area in Arkansas in my opinion. But I should probably introduce myself, having never posted on the Arkansas forum before...I more or less grew up in North Little Rock, doing a stint in North Little Rock High School before shuffling off to college in Nashville. I currently live in Savannah, Georgia, where I am getting a Masters in Architectural History at the Savannah College of Art and Design. I want to get a job in development, with the express intention of helping to reform land use in America (rebuilding cities, small towns, coherent communities, etc.). I may even return to Little Rock some day...and put some sweat in for my roots.

The River City gets better everytime I visit, and I always try to support and make the most of it...I even got engaged to a great girl in the River Market this Christmas...but there is still a lot of quite outdated thinking out there, which makes me afraid that the passion and energy so many Little Rockers have for their city will be misspent on skyscrapers and other "big city-looking" stuff. I agree with the postings on this forum which speak out in favor of pedestrian-friendly, human-scaled, mixed-use streetscapes which thrive with life and enoble all those who participate in its (hopefully created) public wealth.

I am optimistic about Little Rock...but I have to say, the countless number of foreign and domestic architects and urbanists whom I have taken to Arkansas in order to shatter their lame stereotypes about the place are always pleasantly stunned by Hot Springs but barely moved by Little Rock. The Quawpaw Quarter and the River Market (minus Parking Mall and fractured riverfront) are much more like the kinds of places Little Rockers should be striving to create than an outdated vision of the failed Modernist (or Postmodernist, or Deconstructivist, or whatever) city of glass and steel. I am not old-fashioned--but I do believe we should strive for beauty and sustainability and dignity rather than fashion or urbanity for its own sake.

But all you guys rock, and Little Rock will always have a piece of my heart, and I think the place will likely do some amazing things in the years to come. A visionary is needed, of course...but more importantly, Little Rock needs a vision. And it should not, by any means, be some overcompensation for a lack of skyscrapers or modern avant-garde nonsense. A new 40 story building is the LAST thing the city needs...rather, ten beautiful new 4 story buildings...

I don't want this to feel like we're picking on you but I also think I have to disagree. :D Bathhouse row is certainly a great place in the state but I don't think I could call it the most urban area in the state either. As far as architectural styles, I guess that's just personal opinion. I know some people argue about cities making everything look older than what it is by copying older styles. Some people like buildings that are the more reflective of what styles were around at the time period it was built. But as I said it's just a matter of opinion. I don't mind either style. But I never felt that Little Rock felt 'dated' because of the style of architecture of it's downtown personally. But anyway it's nice to see you post here and we hope you'll feel free to join us again. :D

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NewTowner    0

I don't want this to feel like we're picking on you but I also think I have to disagree. :D Bathhouse row is certainly a great place in the state but I don't think I could call it the most urban area in the state either. As far as architectural styles, I guess that's just personal opinion. I know some people argue about cities making everything look older than what it is by copying older styles. Some people like buildings that are the more reflective of what styles were around at the time period it was built. But as I said it's just a matter of opinion. I don't mind either style. But I never felt that Little Rock felt 'dated' because of the style of architecture of it's downtown personally. But anyway it's nice to see you post here and we hope you'll feel free to join us again. :D

Well, it is a shame that my first post was so poorly written. I have clearly caused some misunderstandings, and have failed to successfully represent my own opinions. I probably should not have announced my entrance into the Little Rock forum with a potentially controversial statement. My apologies all around, I don't expect to have any street cred the moment I walk in.

By and large I think I agree with the spirit of what everybody is saying, particularly Aporkalypse. I should have defined what I meant by urban before saying that Hot Springs had more successful and intact urban fabric than Little Rock. By "urban" I do not mean "big"--and I certainly don't mean "diverse," "sophisticated," or "modern." I meant the word "urban" in its simplest possible sense--having the characteristics of a manmade environment, built to accomodate the basic needs of a settlement of people which can be called a city (maintains a division of labor, has an element of public or common wealth, contains some sort of public realm for interaction, etc.). In this sense, because Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs reveals an economically flexible and civic-minded built environment framed in both public and private realms, it functions in a much more urban sense than would a farmhouse--or, for that matter, than would a freeway, or a parking lot, or a tumbleweed-blown CDB, or any other single-use, publically impoverished built specimen of socially antipathetic "cityscape." In other words, Little Rock is bigger...but so is suburban Detroit. There are streets in the heart of Dublin, Paris, Prague, Dresden, New York, and countless other cities which could be compared with Bathhouse Row and an articulate conversation could be made of it.

But I still see what all of you mean, and I don't contest it if our definition of urban is different from that above. I just finished a History of Urban Form class in France last Fall...so I am probably a little psychotic on the semantics at the moment.

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skirby    59

Well, it is a shame that my first post was so poorly written. I have clearly caused some misunderstandings, and have failed to successfully represent my own opinions. I probably should not have announced my entrance into the Little Rock forum with a potentially controversial statement. My apologies all around, I don't expect to have any street cred the moment I walk in.

By and large I think I agree with the spirit of what everybody is saying, particularly Aporkalypse. I should have defined what I meant by urban before saying that Hot Springs had more successful and intact urban fabric than Little Rock. By "urban" I do not mean "big"--and I certainly don't mean "diverse," "sophisticated," or "modern." I meant the word "urban" in its simplest possible sense--having the characteristics of a manmade environment, built to accomodate the basic needs of a settlement of people which can be called a city (maintains a division of labor, has an element of public or common wealth, contains some sort of public realm for interaction, etc.). In this sense, because Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs reveals an economically flexible and civic-minded built environment framed in both public and private realms, it functions in a much more urban sense than would a farmhouse--or, for that matter, than would a freeway, or a parking lot, or a tumbleweed-blown CDB, or any other single-use, publically impoverished built specimen of socially antipathetic "cityscape." In other words, Little Rock is bigger...but so is suburban Detroit. There are streets in the heart of Dublin, Paris, Prague, Dresden, New York, and countless other cities which could be compared with Bathhouse Row and an articulate conversation could be made of it.

But I still see what all of you mean, and I don't contest it if our definition of urban is different from that above. I just finished a History of Urban Form class in France last Fall...so I am probably a little psychotic on the semantics at the moment.

I think you make a good point. Buildings are just buildings without the interaction of the public. This is one of the problems with LR except for the River Market District. At one time Main Street had that interaction and if redevelopment proceeds maybe it will happen again. What good are tall buildings if they occupy ghostowns?

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Mith242    69

Okay I see where you're coming from now. :D I've heard of areas of even London's downtown that are filled with offices and after work hours that area of the city is completely dead.

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Aporkalypse    1

Okay I see where you're coming from now. :D I've heard of areas of even London's downtown that are filled with offices and after work hours that area of the city is completely dead.

I lived in Oxford for a while and I can agree to an extent. Most buildings in older parts of London under 10 stories are gorgeous, those that are taller and newer are tackier than anything in U.S cities. The high rise tenaments on the edge of the city are eyesores. Still, the majority of the city is much more walkable and pedestrian-friendly than just about anywhere in the U.S. outside of NYC.

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Mith242    69

I lived in Oxford for a while and I can agree to an extent. Most buildings in older parts of London under 10 stories are gorgeous, those that are taller and newer are tackier than anything in U.S cities. The high rise tenaments on the edge of the city are eyesores. Still, the majority of the city is much more walkable and pedestrian-friendly than just about anywhere in the U.S. outside of NYC.

:offtopic:

Sorry to get off topic here guys. But I've wondered if anyone thinks that the US will eventually develop another major city that is as pedestrian friendly as NYC or for that matter any of the major Europeans cities?

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NewTowner    0

:offtopic:

Sorry to get off topic here guys. But I've wondered if anyone thinks that the US will eventually develop another major city that is as pedestrian friendly as NYC or for that matter any of the major Europeans cities?

Several other cities are pretty close, I would say...large parts of San Francisco, New Orleans (what's left of it), Chicago, Charleston, and Savannah have some fabric to be reckoned with...some cities that are on the move towards greatness are Baltimore, Nashville, Minneapolis, Boston...with Boston being the clear leader of that pack.

There is great reason for optimism in America's urban places--but not yet complacency, as there are still many forces pushing "development" into forms which are unsustainable and inhumane. It will likely be our generation which changes things for the better...I just hope we can get a roaring national dialogue about urban design into the picture before fuel prices demand one, and demand one in an atmosphere tinged by panic and even rage. Little Rock, and North Little Rock (Argenta), may one day be beautiful cities worthy of affection by citizen and visitor alike...where everyone is a citizen first, and a consumer second.

We can do it!!

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