Aporkalypse

Hillcrest and the Heights

Recommended Posts

I think we need a thread to discuss Arkansas' most perseverant historic neighborhoods. They're two of the few century-old neighborhoods in the region that have never gone through a process of urban decay and they also probably have the highest residential property values in Arkansas, especially the Heights.

I think these two neighborhoods with their many upscale and trendy independent shops and restaurants and beautifully restored 1910s-1940s cottages and homes are a big reason for Little Rock's continued urban success and resistance to suburban flight that has plagued similar cities (though it is no doubt still occurring in LR).

The only thing I dislike is the trend of tearing down homes and rebuilding with zero lot line McMansions. The same thing is happening in Dallas in areas like the Park Cities and Lakewood where property values are sky high. It's a shame, it hurts the character of the area.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I think we need a thread to discuss Arkansas' most perseverant historic neighborhoods. They're two of the few century-old neighborhoods in the region that have never gone through a process of urban decay and they also probably have the highest residential property values in Arkansas, especially the Heights.

I think these two neighborhoods with their many upscale and trendy independent shops and restaurants and beautifully restored 1910s-1940s cottages and homes are a big reason for Little Rock's continued urban success and resistance to suburban flight that has plagued similar cities (though it is no doubt still occurring in LR).

The only thing I dislike is the trend of tearing down homes and rebuilding with zero lot line McMansions. The same thing is happening in Dallas in areas like the Park Cities and Lakewood where property values are sky high. It's a shame, it hurts the character of the area.

I don't think I've heard of Hillcrest but I've heard of the Heights. Is that in North Little Rock? I'd also like to hear some about some of Little Rock's older neighborhoods. It's been a while since I mentioned this but is anyone familiar with the Quapaw Quarter in Little Rock? Seems like when I mentioned it before not everyone seemed too familiar with it. Years ago when I visited Little Rock I tried looking around that area. I can't remember exactly but it seemed like it was somewhere in the general area of the Arts Center. Years ago it was having some hard problems because it was surrounded by poor neighborhoods. I think a number of the homes there were built back in the 1800's. I remember when I was there they were having problems with people stealing the elaborate wrought iron fences that surrounded the yards of these old homes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think I've heard of Hillcrest but I've heard of the Heights. Is that in North Little Rock? I'd also like to hear some about some of Little Rock's older neighborhoods. It's been a while since I mentioned this but is anyone familiar with the Quapaw Quarter in Little Rock? Seems like when I mentioned it before not everyone seemed too familiar with it. Years ago when I visited Little Rock I tried looking around that area. I can't remember exactly but it seemed like it was somewhere in the general area of the Arts Center. Years ago it was having some hard problems because it was surrounded by poor neighborhoods. I think a number of the homes there were built back in the 1800's. I remember when I was there they were having problems with people stealing the elaborate wrought iron fences that surrounded the yards of these old homes.

The Heights and Hillcrest are both in Little Rock west of downtown a few miles and can be reached via Markham (Hillcrest) or Cantrell (Heights). They were both originally part of Pulaski Heights which was Little Rock's first suburb in the 1890s and was connected to downtown by an extensive trolley system. It was annexed sometime in the 1920s or 1930s, I think. The two areas probably have a combined have a population of 15k or so but they're hard to define as everyone likes to say they live there. The original trolley line is now Kavanaugh Blvd which is lined with shops and restaurants as it winds in a truly serpentine fashion through that part of the city. You'll see people walking their dogs, jogging, etc all times of the day or night and generally it is a very safe, clean area of town. Many of the city's nicest restaurants are along Kavanaugh.

The nicest part of the Heights is Edge Hill, where the Dillards and Stephens live and there are beautiful vistas overlooking the city.

All of these houses are more tudor-style and there are a number of the 1920s/1930s bungalow-style homes. Most homes in Hillcrest and Heights date from 1920-1940, aside from the newer McMansions. In contrast, the Quapaw Quarter is older and homes date from the 1880s to 1915 or so and the predominant style is Victorian. It is essentially downtown, it is south of I-630 as you pass the Central Business District. Unlike the aforementioned neighborhoods it really fell into a state of disrepair for decades and since the 1980s has been remade. It borders some of the worst parts of town, though, and is not considered a "family neighborhood" the way the Heights and Hillcrest are. If you want to buy a ridiculously large and elaborate Victorian home at a reasonable price in a fully restored neighborhood, though, you can do it there.

NLR's nice older neighborhood is Park Hill, which is of similar age and stature to Hillcrest, it's just smaller. Skyline Drive has beautiful views. They are trying to bring back retail and restaurants along JFK Blvd which is the main access to the area. Lakewood, where the Old Mill is located, might've been what you were thinking of but it is much newer.

Incidentally, the old 1915 Pulaski Heights Masonic Lodge building is being converted into lofts, which I thought was a notable project. Demand is much higher in Hillcrest than in downtown and I would've thought someone would've thought of that a long time ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow some great background info there Aporkalypse. I may not know that area very well but it was very interesting to see that information. It really gives that area a lot of character. So the Quapaw Quarter still needs some work eh? It's a shame from what I saw it looked like it had some really great old houses. Maybe things will slowly get better and that area of town will eventually become a respected part of town.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow some great background info there Aporkalypse. I may not know that area very well but it was very interesting to see that information. It really gives that area a lot of character. So the Quapaw Quarter still needs some work eh? It's a shame from what I saw it looked like it had some really great old houses. Maybe things will slowly get better and that area of town will eventually become a respected part of town.

The Height and Hillcrest (and I'll throw in Stifft Station, the area that surrounded hte old trolley stop leading into Hillcrest, and Capitol View, the area that grew up early in the 20th century and overlooked the state capitol since those two areas really operate as extensions of Hillcrest) are both wonderful areas. I'll admit a preference for Hillcrest because it's a bit more open and retains both its homes and its shops with a....well, neighborhood feel a bit better than the Heights.

My wife and I lived in Hillcrest and then moved west when our second child was born, thinking to save money, and it's a move we've regretted ever since. We plan on going back as soon as possible. Hillcrest, just to speak of my personal favorite of the neighborhoods mentioned, is a jewel and Little Rock hasn't done nearly enough to help preserve it or its other neighborhoods that are older and yet still remarkably stable. For example, unlike Hillcrest/Height/Capitol View/Stifft Station and the more affluent parts of the Quapaw Quarter district, the neighborhoods that grew up in the earlier part of the last century around Central High were wonderful and full of beautiful houses and our city has simply let the area slide.

Little Rock's primary flaw as a city is that we have a city manager government, with some of our directors elected citywide and thus giving west Little Rock the predominant voice in our government. Little Rock is a wonderful place to live and it's my home town, but I look across the river and see what a good mayor/council style government is doing to help preserve and rebuild NLR and I envy them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Height and Hillcrest (and I'll throw in Stifft Station, the area that surrounded hte old trolley stop leading into Hillcrest, and Capitol View, the area that grew up early in the 20th century and overlooked the state capitol since those two areas really operate as extensions of Hillcrest) are both wonderful areas. I'll admit a preference for Hillcrest because it's a bit more open and retains both its homes and its shops with a....well, neighborhood feel a bit better than the Heights.

My wife and I lived in Hillcrest and then moved west when our second child was born, thinking to save money, and it's a move we've regretted ever since. We plan on going back as soon as possible. Hillcrest, just to speak of my personal favorite of the neighborhoods mentioned, is a jewel and Little Rock hasn't done nearly enough to help preserve it or its other neighborhoods that are older and yet still remarkably stable. For example, unlike Hillcrest/Height/Capitol View/Stifft Station and the more affluent parts of the Quapaw Quarter district, the neighborhoods that grew up in the earlier part of the last century around Central High were wonderful and full of beautiful houses and our city has simply let the area slide.

Little Rock's primary flaw as a city is that we have a city manager government, with some of our directors elected citywide and thus giving west Little Rock the predominant voice in our government. Little Rock is a wonderful place to live and it's my home town, but I look across the river and see what a good mayor/council style government is doing to help preserve and rebuild NLR and I envy them.

I used to attend UAMS and when I did about half of the students and residents live in Hillcrest. Many share the same story about moving out. Stifft Station has the same history but was fairly run down for a while but seems to be emerging from that nicely as Hillcrest property values are forcing people to look for more affordable "project homes" on the fringes. There are some beautiful homes in that area as well.

I agree about city government, that would make another good thread. I would love to have a strong motivated mayor like Patrick Henry Hays over Little Rock but even moreso I would like to see the two cities consolidate government, which was a thread here a few months ago.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't guess anyone has any pics of what these areas look like in general. How far west are these areas in regard to the city in general. I'm going to see if I can find these areas on Google Earth. Any particular streets that form the borders of these areas?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't guess anyone has any pics of what these areas look like in general. How far west are these areas in regard to the city in general. I'm going to see if I can find these areas on Google Earth. Any particular streets that form the borders of these areas?

The borders are very ill-defined. An easy but not entirely accurate way to tour the area is to drive west on Markham from downtown a couple of miles. It splits at a very odd intersection (thanks to the Trolleys) at Stifft Station and Kavanaugh veers off to the right. You'll pass the Arkansas School for the Blind (including the original Confederate Veterans' Home) and School for the Deaf which are also beautiful buildings. Take Kavanaugh its entire length and you'll see the majority of the Heights and Hillcrest's commercial development. Kavanaugh really twists and winds the whole way and it's impossible to keep your directions straight - you'll go N, S, E, and W at various points.

The line between the Heights and Hillcrest is ill-defined but it's roughly a few blocks South of Cantrell as you drive South on Kavanaugh. The line is obvious culturally - the Heights is well-manicured and upscale and Hillcrest is funkier, more like Fayetteville. It's also young and tends to vote Democratic while the Heights votes Republican.

Alternatively, you can take Cantrell west from downtown (through parts of the Heights) and turn right at University Ave and take a right on Kavanaugh and then follow Kavanaugh its entire course until it merges with Markham and heads back toward downtown.

Here is a long history and explanation of the Hillcrest Historic District...

http://www.arkansaspreservation.org/pdf/pu...s/Hillcrest.pdf

Typical Hillcrest shopping area...

hillcrest.gif

A funky Hillcrest home...

beechfnt.jpg

In order to build a new Kroger in the Heights, Kroger had to agree to "fit the neighborhood". Therefore, this row of shops faces Kavanaugh. This is a recent development. The Kroger also had to be built in a more upscale fashion with a brick wall between it and the houses nearby...

SHOPS%203.jpg

There are mansions and cottages and everything between, shopping centers dating to 1915, restaurants tucked in 1920s cottages, and new developments made to fit in seamlessly with the vibe. What I can't find are good pictures. The area is not marketed for tourism the way downtown is and I can't find good pictures online. When I go back home I'll try to take some.

Also, if someone has pictures of the U of A chancellor's mansion or of the Diocese of Little Rock HQs (the original campus of what became UALR, once a Catholic college) please post them. Those are beautiful buildings.

Edited by Aporkalypse

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info. I'm wanting to go back to Little Rock and spend the day looking around Little Rock. Maybe I can also try to take some pics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking on realtor.com for houses in the Heights and Hillcrest and I was wowed at how much prices have gone up in those areas. The Heights has always been high but you're paying considerably more per SF (often 1.5-2 times as much) now than you would for new construction in Chenal or the Pinnacle area in NWA. Hillcrest is still cheaper but houses in poor condition that were going for $80-90k when I was in school 5 years ago are now twice that and anything decent starts in the $250k range and there are tons of houses in the $300-500 range.

Knowing that, I would bet prices in the Capitol View and Stifft's station area will start climbing and we will see lots of renovations in those areas before long.

Also, can anyone think of another area of the state where teardowns are common the way they are in the Heights. It's common in the Park Cities and Lakewood areas of Dallas but you have to have some very high property values before that becomes a common thing. Not that I like what it does to the neighborhood's character because I don't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disturbing trend - I noticed the first teardowns in Hillcrest on Midland recently. I hate to see that spread to Hillcrest which still has some historical dignity. I don't want it to end up like the Heights, where as a I speak there is a teardown going up off of Cantrell that used a tiny single lot and has 3 stories with a garage underneath. It's an abomination -it looks more like a condo building than a single family home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Disturbing trend - I noticed the first teardowns in Hillcrest on Midland recently. I hate to see that spread to Hillcrest which still has some historical dignity. I don't want it to end up like the Heights, where as a I speak there is a teardown going up off of Cantrell that used a tiny single lot and has 3 stories with a garage underneath. It's an abomination -it looks more like a condo building than a single family home.

Don't you mean Ridgeway instead of Midland? There was a teardown of a very dilapidated home on Ridgeway. It was replaced by a house that was completely in character with the neighborhood. Also, the old Masonic Lodge on Kavanaugh ie going to be the Hillcrest U.S. Pizza's new location. The second story will be the chains headquarters. The liquor store which occupies a small part of the current U.S. Pizza building will be expanded into the entire structure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Don't you mean Ridgeway instead of Midland? There was a teardown of a very dilapidated home on Ridgeway. It was replaced by a house that was completely in character with the neighborhood. Also, the old Masonic Lodge on Kavanaugh ie going to be the Hillcrest U.S. Pizza's new location. The second story will be the chains headquarters. The liquor store which occupies a small part of the current U.S. Pizza building will be expanded into the entire structure.

I guess it was Ridgeway.

So they're closing the current U.S. Pizza Hillcrest location in order to move? Any idea what will happen with that building? E.J.'s moved downtown - is that building all going to be a bank or only part of it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess it was Ridgeway.

So they're closing the current U.S. Pizza Hillcrest location in order to move? Any idea what will happen with that building? E.J.'s moved downtown - is that building all going to be a bank or only part of it?

The same person owns the building, U.S. Pizza and the liquor store in the structure housing U.S. Pizza. She's moving the pizza operation to the old Masonic building and expanding the liquor store into the entire building. I owned a liquor store and the new store should be a great location for a first-class wine store. Metropolitan Bank bought the C-store at the NW corner of Beechwood and Kavanaugh but hasn't broken ground.

Also concerning the Masonic building soon to be U.S. Pizza. When built the ground floor was a service station. There was an arched drive through which was later bricked up. My understanding is that the brick will be removed and replaced with a glassed in area for the restaurants dining room. The east side has already been taken down. The second floor where the lodge was will be office space.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The same person owns the building, U.S. Pizza and the liquor store in the structure housing U.S. Pizza. She's moving the pizza operation to the old Masonic building and expanding the liquor store into the entire building. I owned a liquor store and the new store should be a great location for a first-class wine store. Metropolitan Bank bought the C-store at the NW corner of Beechwood and Kavanaugh but hasn't broken ground.

Also concerning the Masonic building soon to be U.S. Pizza. When built the ground floor was a service station. There was an arched drive through which was later bricked up. My understanding is that the brick will be removed and replaced with a glassed in area for the restaurants dining room. The east side has already been taken down. The second floor where the lodge was will be office space.

At one point they were talking about converting it to lofts. Regardless, that's a great old building.

You never really worry about having vacant commercial space in Hillcrest or the Heights for long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At one point they were talking about converting it to lofts. Regardless, that's a great old building.

You never really worry about having vacant commercial space in Hillcrest or the Heights for long.

We put together an investment group that looked at purchasing that building for office or loft residential on the second floor, and retail on the first. The problem with the building is that they were asking too much on the front end to get the numbers to work. There was no "headroom" left to accommodate the amount of renovation needed to meet the expectations of the general market. This must have worked out great for one owner with no tenants as she can just put in the minimal amount of improvements upstairs for her own offices, and spend money as needed for a nice restaurant downstairs. Truthfully, this couldn't have worked out better as a prior potential buyer - a bank - had contemplated tearing it down. They must have backed off when they realized the PR nightmare this would have been.

Can't wait for the "new" U.S. Pizza to open!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The renovations to the former Masonic Lodge are taking much longer than I expected. Maybe they are renovating the office space upstairs more quickly but we are unable to see that. The interior of the first floor seems not to have changed in weeks. I guess upgrading of electrical and plumbing and probably the new floor slab is taking longer than expected. Maybe they ran into unforseen foundation problems as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The renovations to the former Masonic Lodge are taking much longer than I expected. Maybe they are renovating the office space upstairs more quickly but we are unable to see that. The interior of the first floor seems not to have changed in weeks. I guess upgrading of electrical and plumbing and probably the new floor slab is taking longer than expected. Maybe they ran into unforseen foundation problems as well.

I don't understand where all the dirt came from that's piled in the parking lot. are they digging a basement?

Why no progress on Metropolitan's new branch at Kavanaugh and Beechwood?

The two doctors that rent the old Easter Seals building at the east end of Lee Street, want to buy the land the building sits on from the Blind and Deaf Schools. Beside their medical practice they have some sort of mortgage or investment company operating out of the building.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the design criteria should be pretty stringent pretty much anywhere on Kavanaugh, whether in the Heights or Hillcrest. Nobody wants buildings that are grossly out of place constructed there.

I am eager to see construction begin. I ate at Canon Grill Friday and I have to admit that the boarded-up building across the street was kind of out of place and really left a bad mark on the area.

Since the chain reaction has started, I wonder what will happen with the old US Pizza. I'm not TOO worried as I've never seen a restaurant space on Kavanaugh stay vacant for long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since the chain reaction has started, I wonder what will happen with the old US Pizza. I'm not TOO worried as I've never seen a restaurant space on Kavanaugh stay vacant for long.

Currently the U.S. Pizza building has a very small liquor store in the east side. When the pizza operation moves to the old Masonic building the liquor store will expand into the entire space.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am eager to see construction begin. I ate at Canon Grill Friday and I have to admit that the boarded-up building across the street was kind of out of place and really left a bad mark on the area.

Funny, I ate at Canon Grill Friday at around 7 myself. I agree they need to just tear it down. A parking lot would be better in the short term than what is there now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Funny, I ate at Canon Grill Friday at around 7 myself. I agree they need to just tear it down. A parking lot would be better in the short term than what is there now.

I always kind of liked the old mural over there by EJ's and whatever the Caribbean place was that was there before it. I kind of hate to see that go but I agree, it would be better to demolish the building now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.