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The Vermillion restaurant located on the ground floor of the Arkansas Capital Commerce Center. Although it was located outside of the River Market it was just one block south. The reason for the closing was the economy and construction in the area, which would be River Market Place. The Aloft Hotel is to be located across the street.

I wonder what the Courtyard will do know since it used the restaurant for food service?

In an interview about the Vermillion closing the president of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership said she would like to see the River Market District expanded south to Capitol Ave.

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Snow in LR

Well, they don't build them like this anymore. Fulk Building on the 600 block of Main.

Is this an image of "what might have been" or of "what still might be"? http://www.oxleyartgraphics.com/LRRiverMarket-MTMap.html The above link shows a conceptual rendering of the River Market Dis

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The Vermillion restaurant located on the ground floor of the Arkansas Capital Commerce Center. Although it was located outside of the River Market it was just one block south. The reason for the closing was the economy and construction in the area, which would be River Market Place. The Aloft Hotel is to be located across the street.

I wonder what the Courtyard will do know since it used the restaurant for food service?

In an interview about the Vermillion closing the president of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership said she would like to see the River Market District expanded south to Capitol Ave.

That is very sad since it was pretty much a one of a kind restaurant for this town. It doesn't surprise me with this economy and the location as well. A lot of restaurants especially closer to downtown aren't making it.

Edited by bchris02
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This is some of what the Arkansas Times had to report about Vermillion's closing in their Arkansas Blog...

Tax problems may have hurried the closure. The state Finance and Administration Department website indicates the restaurant was served a closure notice Feb. 11 for sales and use tax arrearages. But the owners apparently have been making an effort to square accounts. The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau reports that the restaurant had fallen behind on the city hamburger tax, but brought accounts current in mid-March. County Treasurer Debra Buckner also said the restaurant had some $1,700 in unpaid 2008 property taxes.
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Does anyone know what is going on here? Located at the on ramp to I-30 at Cumberland next to the 300 3rd Tower. It has been a island with grass and a small rock wall or old footing of some sort. It would be a good place for public art.

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Does anyone know what is going on here? Located at the on ramp to I-30 at Cumberland next to the 300 3rd Tower. It has been a island with grass and a small rock wall or old footing of some sort. It would be a good place for public art.

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Article in today's Arkansas Democrat Gazette explains what is going on. It is part of a new project by the city to beautify medians around LR. Heifer International donated plants for the project. One of the features is a stepping-stone path. Why? No one can access this median on foot. Cumberland does not have a sidewalk in this side of the street. In fact the area for a sidewalk besides the 300 Tower is fenced off for a outdoor seating area for the Copper Grill.

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The LR Downtown Partnership wants to change the name of 3rd St. from Main to World Avenue to River Market Avenue. The Partnership explains that the River Market area should be expanded from Main Street east to Heifer International and south to Capitol. Building restrictions in the River Market Overlay District would not be expanded to include this area.

If this is done then something should be done to enhance the sidewalks in the new district. They could start with the sidewalks along 3rd(River Market Avenue) and one of the north/south streets. In the future I would like to see the city close La Harpe from President Clinton Ave. to State Street. This would provide a much needed entrance to Riverfront Park between the Chamber of Commerce building and Rumba. This could be pedestrian grand entrance for the park. Maybe even put in a large fountain where the street is now. This part of La Harpe is used mostly by people who live outside of LR going to and from work in LR. Using other streets between State St. and I-30 would probably not cost them more that a few minutes a day. But think how much nicer the River Market would be if this street no longer allowed auto and truck traffic?

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The LR Downtown Partnership wants to change the name of 3rd St. from Main to World Avenue to River Market Avenue. The Partnership explains that the River Market area should be expanded from Main Street east to Heifer International and south to Capitol. Building restrictions in the River Market Overlay District would not be expanded to include this area.

If this is done then something should be done to enhance the sidewalks in the new district. They could start with the sidewalks along 3rd(River Market Avenue) and one of the north/south streets. In the future I would like to see the city close La Harpe from President Clinton Ave. to State Street. This would provide a much needed entrance to Riverfront Park between the Chamber of Commerce building and Rumba. This could be pedestrian grand entrance for the park. Maybe even put in a large fountain where the street is now. This part of La Harpe is used mostly by people who live outside of LR going to and from work in LR. Using other streets between State St. and I-30 would probably not cost them more that a few minutes a day. But think how much nicer the River Market would be if this street no longer allowed auto and truck traffic?

skirby - I disagree with you about the idea of removing La Harpe...that is a MAJOR thoroughfare, and frankly, doesn't or wouldn't offer any redeeming value to a pedestrian...it's just not set up that way, and frankly, isn't part of the grid. Now, if there were some way to reroute Cantrell/La Harpe, maybe, but that would be prohibitively expensive. There is PLENTY of potential along a plethora of the urban grid that would benefit from upgrades to enhance pedestrians and the district without having to remove a dedicated vehicular thoroughfare (that frankly, doesn't interfere with anything). I guess my point is, what is the upside?

Having said all of that, I do agree that the intersection of La Harpe/Markham/President Clinton is a bottleneck.

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skirby - I disagree with you about the idea of removing La Harpe...that is a MAJOR thoroughfare, and frankly, doesn't or wouldn't offer any redeeming value to a pedestrian...it's just not set up that way, and frankly, isn't part of the grid. Now, if there were some way to reroute Cantrell/La Harpe, maybe, but that would be prohibitively expensive. There is PLENTY of potential along a plethora of the urban grid that would benefit from upgrades to enhance pedestrians and the district without having to remove a dedicated vehicular thoroughfare (that frankly, doesn't interfere with anything). I guess my point is, what is the upside?

Having said all of that, I do agree that the intersection of La Harpe/Markham/President Clinton is a bottleneck.

The section of La Harpe between the River Market and the Broadway Bridge doesn't service anything that couldn't be handled with a service lane for the convention center. Other cities have taken out expressways and found that traffic will find its way into the existing grid without any problems. Most of La Harpe could be used for parking and remove the present parking in the park. I disagree that La Harpe doesn't interfere with anything, it acts as a divider between the River Market and the west. The city is cut-off from the river and this would make a perfect place for a so-called grand entrance.

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The section of La Harpe between the River Market and the Broadway Bridge doesn't service anything that couldn't be handled with a service lane for the convention center. Other cities have taken out expressways and found that traffic will find its way into the existing grid without any problems. Most of La Harpe could be used for parking and remove the present parking in the park. I disagree that La Harpe doesn't interfere with anything, it acts as a divider between the River Market and the west. The city is cut-off from the river and this would make a perfect place for a so-called grand entrance.

I just don't see any real significant upside...at least that's worth the significant downside, which is cutting off the last 1.5 miles of a MAJOR east-west thoroughfare, that's a state highway no less. Who would want to travel east on Cantrell then have to dump into the grid - which should arguably be more pedestrian friendly anyway? It's an out of sight, dedicated vehicular artery that stays out of the pedestrian and activity areas of the urban grid. I think you are correct in that is - somewhat - a barrier to the river, but the only real facilities that adjoin it are the Peabody and the Convention Center - which bridge over it anyway.

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I just don't see any real significant upside...at least that's worth the significant downside, which is cutting off the last 1.5 miles of a MAJOR east-west thoroughfare, that's a state highway no less. Who would want to travel east on Cantrell then have to dump into the grid - which should arguably be more pedestrian friendly anyway? It's an out of sight, dedicated vehicular artery that stays out of the pedestrian and activity areas of the urban grid. I think you are correct in that is - somewhat - a barrier to the river, but the only real facilities that adjoin it are the Peabody and the Convention Center - which bridge over it anyway.

The latest traffic counts for La Harpe shows a decrease for this section of the road. A few blocks west of State St. the count is almost twice the count for this section, therefore people are leaving La Harpe to travel the grid. I don't remember many problems when this part of La Harpe is closed for Riverfest.

Make this a plaza/park I don't like to walk across a five lane street.

p1050340.jpg

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The latest traffic counts for La Harpe shows a decrease for this section of the road. A few blocks west of State St. the count is almost twice the count for this section, therefore people are leaving La Harpe to travel the grid. I don't remember many problems when this part of La Harpe is closed for Riverfest.

Make this a plaza/park I don't like to walk across a five lane street.

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I would argue that there is little, if any argument or demand to turn the portion directly behind DoubleTree/Statehouse/Peabody into a park - in fact, even the city seems to have de-emphasized this portion of the park and have focused their attention to the east end. However, I do think where it then crosses Markham/President Clinton becomes very problematic, and is an eyesore (per your picture). It would be nice if that were an entry plaza to the park, etc. Perhaps a good compromise would be to change paving materials and add a landscaped island to slow traffic and make it more conducive to pedestrian use.

But, all that to say skirby, I respect your opinion and agree that were there no downsides/access to the freeways, ideally it would be nice if the road could be taken out. :thumbsup:

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I agree with Skirby--I sort of wish the La Harpe area was added to the park as well. That's prime real estate and it's a shame that the western downtown of LR is laid out so that the river is basically off limits beyond the Peabody.

I think building a world-class park would be good reason to explore alternatives to Cantrell. Just imagine that ugly concrete turned into world-class greenspace with excellent landscaping--an extension of the incredible work at the children's park they already built.

Is there an alternative to the Cantrell thoroughfare? I don't know, but it's worth exploring.

Edited by johnnydr87
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I agree with Skirby--I sort of wish the La Harpe area was added to the park as well. That's prime real estate and it's a shame that the western downtown of LR is laid out so that the river is basically off limits beyond the Peabody.

I think building a world-class park would be good reason to explore alternatives to Cantrell. Just imagine that ugly concrete turned into world-class greenspace with excellent landscaping--an extension of the incredible work at the children's park they already built.

Is there an alternative to the Cantrell thoroughfare? I don't know, but it's worth exploring.

The next major road is Broadway, however, it would be really hard to connect it to cantrell because of the bridge. If there were a way to move the access there, IMO it would be the perfect location as it would be moved far enough westward. After that the only "major" intersection is chester. Thats a little bit too far.

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I agree with Skirby--I sort of wish the La Harpe area was added to the park as well. That's prime real estate and it's a shame that the western downtown of LR is laid out so that the river is basically off limits beyond the Peabody.

I think building a world-class park would be good reason to explore alternatives to Cantrell. Just imagine that ugly concrete turned into world-class greenspace with excellent landscaping--an extension of the incredible work at the children's park they already built.

Is there an alternative to the Cantrell thoroughfare? I don't know, but it's worth exploring.

No, not if cost is taken into account.

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I agree with Skirby--I sort of wish the La Harpe area was added to the park as well. That's prime real estate and it's a shame that the western downtown of LR is laid out so that the river is basically off limits beyond the Peabody.

I think building a world-class park would be good reason to explore alternatives to Cantrell. Just imagine that ugly concrete turned into world-class greenspace with excellent landscaping--an extension of the incredible work at the children's park they already built.

Is there an alternative to the Cantrell thoroughfare? I don't know, but it's worth exploring.

In an ideal world, sure, that'd be great. But why would an additional 100' wide strip (which is tiny in the outside world) automatically make this a "world class park"? It wouldn't. If the city wants to make it a world-class park, then upgrade the ample area already available. So to increase pedestrian traffic (is there really even a demand?), the solution is to remove a MAJOR arterial? It's like wanting to give yourself a haircut, so you cut off your head.

I don't buy the idea that you have to remove vehicular lanes to make great parks. They have to coexist in urban areas. Go to any larger, city and observe how that works.

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In an ideal world, sure, that'd be great. But why would an additional 100' wide strip (which is tiny in the outside world) automatically make this a "world class park"? It wouldn't. If the city wants to make it a world-class park, then upgrade the ample area already available. So to increase pedestrian traffic (is there really even a demand?), the solution is to remove a MAJOR arterial? It's like wanting to give yourself a haircut, so you cut off your head.

I don't buy the idea that you have to remove vehicular lanes to make great parks. They have to coexist in urban areas. Go to any larger, city and observe how that works.

Let me just state upfront: I have no realistic expectations of this happening, ever. I was just mulling it over.

No, 100' wouldn't make it a world class park, but developing it would. Right now the riverfront park towards the western edge is really just enough space for a walkway with some buffer. It's nicer at the east end with the river market, but it tapers off and dies pretty quickly once you start heading west.

Unfortunately, parks don't work quantity-demand scale. You can't simply turn things into parks--as this discussion shows. Great parks are built by foresight--land set away from development--or luck of circumstances. When enough people move in to start "demanding" a park, chances are the property values have risen and the area's too developed for a large park.

Per your suggestion to "go to a larger city and observe how that works": It just happens that I live in a pretty large city (St. Louis), and I live by one of the greatest urban parks in the nation, right up there with Central Park in NYC: Forest Park. It's 2 square miles and right in the middle of the city--it hosts museums, a zoo, and lots of other public recreational activities. It borders a major university, which I attend.

Obviously, St. Louis is tons bigger than LR, so we can't compare them straight up.

But there are some key differences. First, your point that major urban thoroughfares interact with "great parks" is obviously true--but it's not true for the way Cantrell interacts with the Riverfront Park. Cantrell is a chute, interstate-like highway that constitutes about as much land as the park itself. There are no broad boulevards lined with trees and the park is pretty much sealed away. The park as it stands is a walkway with some lawn on either side.

And while we're on the topic, Little Rock seems to be pretty lacking in a broad-sized park, although it has some pretty awesome river front around the big dam bridge. MacArthur Park is the closest I can think of, and War Memorial. MacArthur Park is undersized, underdeveloped, and suffocated by the Interstate. War Memorial is mostly concrete and unimaginative. Was Rebsamen always a golf course? Was it purchased by the city? It seems strange that the largest portion of prime park lands along a river would be devoted to an esoteric sport enjoyed mostly by people in the upper incomes. Murray Park, on the other hand, is size of three holes on Rebsamen.

Anyways, my (other) point is that Little Rock lacks great boulevard-style park, and it's too bad that there was not enough foresight to develop one. And there's basically no chance that a great one will be injected into the urban fabric--unless a billionaire pops in and decides to buy property/convert it to a park. As many of you whizzes here would keenly observe, "That is highly unlikely!!"

(That said, it would be amazing if said billionaire bought up some land east of I-30, connected to Heifer/Clinton Center, and built a heretofore fictitious park with museums and such. Highly unlikely, however.)

Another Q to jog the ole' melon: how unlikely is it to remove the interstate ramp that splices the downtown Little Rock area, from 1 unlikely to 5 unlikelies, where 5 unlikelies is exactly 5x as many unlikelies as 1 unlikely. I don't like it, personally.

Edited by johnnydr87
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Let me just state upfront: I have no realistic expectations of this happening, ever. I was just mulling it over.

No, 100' wouldn't make it a world class park, but developing it would. Right now the riverfront park towards the western edge is really just enough space for a walkway with some buffer. It's nicer at the east end with the river market, but it tapers off and dies pretty quickly once you start heading west.

Unfortunately, parks don't work quantity-demand scale. You can't simply turn things into parks--as this discussion shows. Great parks are built by foresight--land set away from development--or luck of circumstances. When enough people move in to start "demanding" a park, chances are the property values have risen and the area's too developed for a large park.

Per your suggestion to "go to a larger city and observe how that works": It just happens that I live in a pretty large city (St. Louis), and I live by one of the greatest urban parks in the nation, right up there with Central Park in NYC: Forest Park. It's 2 square miles and right in the middle of the city--it hosts museums, a zoo, and lots of other public recreational activities. It borders a major university, which I attend.

Obviously, St. Louis is tons bigger than LR, so we can't compare them straight up.

But there are some key differences. First, your point that major urban thoroughfares interact with "great parks" is obviously true--but it's not true for the way Cantrell interacts with the Riverfront Park. Cantrell is a chute, interstate-like highway that constitutes about as much land as the park itself. There are no broad boulevards lined with trees and the park is pretty much sealed away. The park as it stands is a walkway with some lawn on either side.

And while we're on the topic, Little Rock seems to be pretty lacking in a broad-sized park, although it has some pretty awesome river front around the big dam bridge. MacArthur Park is the closest I can think of, and War Memorial. MacArthur Park is undersized, underdeveloped, and suffocated by the Interstate. War Memorial is mostly concrete and unimaginative. Was Rebsamen always a golf course? Was it purchased by the city? It seems strange that the largest portion of prime park lands along a river would be devoted to an esoteric sport enjoyed mostly by people in the upper incomes. Murray Park, on the other hand, is size of three holes on Rebsamen.

Anyways, my (other) point is that Little Rock lacks great boulevard-style park, and it's too bad that there was not enough foresight to develop one. And there's basically no chance that a great one will be injected into the urban fabric--unless a billionaire pops in and decides to buy property/convert it to a park. As many of you whizzes here would keenly observe, "That is highly unlikely!!"

(That said, it would be amazing if said billionaire bought up some land east of I-30, connected to Heifer/Clinton Center, and built a heretofore fictitious park with museums and such. Highly unlikely, however.)

Another Q to jog the ole' melon: how unlikely is it to remove the interstate ramp that splices the downtown Little Rock area, from 1 unlikely to 5 unlikelies, where 5 unlikelies is exactly 5x as many unlikelies as 1 unlikely. I don't like it, personally.

I agree with your assessment of the Little Rock parks, and I'd also always wondered how cool it would be if there was a "broad-sized" park - especially downtown, if even one block or two.

Regarding your comments (and skirby's) about LeHarpe...don't get me wrong. Ideally it would be great if the thoroughfare could be accommodated elsewhere and that area completely deeded to riverfront access. My apologies to all for debating this as if it were an actual consideration! I've always been sensitive about people's aversion to vehicular access (or even thoroughfares) adjacent t parks - if done properly. And to be completely forthcoming, I despised the politics and special interests that (falsely) derailed the planned extension of Rebsamen Park road - that it would ruin the park. A later UALR (objective) study confirmed and supported the original plan.

One last thing, I DO agree that the intersection of LaHarpe/Markham/President Clinton is a bad situation for all involved...pedestrian, vehicle, etc.

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I agree with your assessment of the Little Rock parks, and I'd also always wondered how cool it would be if there was a "broad-sized" park - especially downtown, if even one block or two.

Regarding your comments (and skirby's) about LeHarpe...don't get me wrong. Ideally it would be great if the thoroughfare could be accommodated elsewhere and that area completely deeded to riverfront access. My apologies to all for debating this as if it were an actual consideration! I've always been sensitive about people's aversion to vehicular access (or even thoroughfares) adjacent t parks - if done properly. And to be completely forthcoming, I despised the politics and special interests that (falsely) derailed the planned extension of Rebsamen Park road - that it would ruin the park. A later UALR (objective) study confirmed and supported the original plan.

One last thing, I DO agree that the intersection of LaHarpe/Markham/President Clinton is a bad situation for all involved...pedestrian, vehicle, etc.

No worries.

Rebsamen road, you mean where literally my favorite destination in Little Rock, the Big Dam Bridge, sits? You may have been right, but I'd like to think that the area took a much better turn with more trails and the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.

Where else can you get such gorgeous views of a river and small mountains in the background, all while being in city limits? Certainly not anywhere else in middle america. My family took our out-of-country visitors (my parents are immigrants, after all) to the bridge.

So I'm looking at Google Maps to see where this Rebsamen road extension would go--and I have to say, it seems like an awful idea on paper. The riverside area past Big Dam Bridge is very narrow--its width goes from the river until you hit the steep hillsides. And that narrow strip of level park is where the pedestrian trail goes. I'm not sure how extending Rebsamen would be possible without wrecking that awesome trail.

Here's a street view of what I mean: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=34....,117.07,,0,2.18 Past that yellow pike is the old road which is used by bikes and pedestrians.

The trail is literally one of the best things going for Little Rock. It's a must see if you live in LR. I've built up a love affair with it---it's really gorgeous and so surprising that it's in a major city metro.

Edited by johnnydr87
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No worries.

Rebsamen road, you mean where literally my favorite destination in Little Rock, the Big Dam Bridge, sits? You may have been right, but I'd like to think that the area took a much better turn with more trails and the longest pedestrian bridge in the world.

Where else can you get such gorgeous views of a river and small mountains in the background, all while being in city limits? Certainly not anywhere else in middle america. My family took our out-of-country visitors (my parents are immigrants, after all) to the bridge.

So I'm looking at Google Maps to see where this Rebsamen road extension would go--and I have to say, it seems like an awful idea on paper. The riverside area past Big Dam Bridge is very narrow--its width goes from the river until you hit the steep hillsides. And that narrow strip of level park is where the pedestrian trail goes. I'm not sure how extending Rebsamen would be possible without wrecking that awesome trail.

Here's a street view of what I mean: http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&ll=34....,117.07,,0,2.18 Past that yellow pike is the old road which is used by bikes and pedestrians.

The trail is literally one of the best things going for Little Rock. It's a must see if you live in LR. I've built up a love affair with it---it's really gorgeous and so surprising that it's in a major city metro.

Sounds like you're not familiar with the chain of events. The road was there long before (a portion of) it was decommissioned for a dedicated, non-vehicular bike lane. So what would have been a fairly simple "connection" of two ends of a road separated by a ravine would not have precluded the River Trail (which is awesome) or the Big Dam bridge. Again, why does it have to be one or the other? I can see the point of people preferring no adjacent (separate) vehicular traffic, but how would that differ from the other 90% of the River Trail?

The "facade" of the argument was that it would ruin the park and some hoax about a rare species of salamander along the creek. The real reason was the adjacent neighbors (if you consider houses perched 300' up a mountain neighbors) were afraid of what they thought would be added crime that comes with more traffic. They were the only ones who really cared, and as such, they were the only ones who got out to vote. Yes, it was put forth as a referendum.

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Wasn't the Plague I mean League of Women Voters involved in some way? It is funny such a fuss was raised about Jimerson Creek, while God knows what washes off the streets of downtown and is dumped straight into the river and you never really hear about that. I guess its really not so much an issue now that Alltel's been sold. Although, I'm not sure I'm really a huge fan of making it easier for people to get out of Little Rock. I'd like to see more of Markham repaved first.

You're definitely right about it not being an either or choice. Look at the wonderful bikeway on the west side of Manhattan adjacent to 12th Ave.

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