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Nomadic

River Market Retail, Can It work?

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I have made a few trips down to the River Market area recently and really wish their was more retail there. I honestly think the earlier attempts at retail failed because they were before their time (SOHO era) and targeted too much of a narrow demographic. I think the previous retailers were more destination type stores instead of stores that appeal to casual walk-by consumers. I also dont remember the River Market near as popular then as it is today.

This is my take on the customer base.... From 10am-5pm-ish its going to be a little bit of a "hassle" to shop at a retailer in the River Market due to parking (both having to pay, and having to perhaps walk). The target customer should be the after 5pm crowd which from what I see is a large demographic of 21-30 that ventures down there after 5pm to drink and hang out. I cant remember any retailers that really target that demographic. And most past retailers I think closed at 5-6pm.

What do you guys think would make a retailer work in the River Market? On a side note does anyone know what retail space is going for in the River Market as far as per sq/ft?

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I have made a few trips down to the River Market area recently and really wish their was more retail there. I honestly think the earlier attempts at retail failed because they were before their time (SOHO era) and targeted too much of a narrow demographic. I think the previous retailers were more destination type stores instead of stores that appeal to casual walk-by consumers. I also dont remember the River Market near as popular then as it is today.

This is my take on the customer base.... From 10am-5pm-ish its going to be a little bit of a "hassle" to shop at a retailer in the River Market due to parking (both having to pay, and having to perhaps walk). The target customer should be the after 5pm crowd which from what I see is a large demographic of 21-30 that ventures down there after 5pm to drink and hang out. I cant remember any retailers that really target that demographic. And most past retailers I think closed at 5-6pm.

What do you guys think would make a retailer work in the River Market? On a side note does anyone know what retail space is going for in the River Market as far as per sq/ft?

I think one thing that would do well are shops that can be utilized by downtown residential but also serve a bit of a specialty purpose, such as a gourmet grocery store. The boutique shops that were the early River Market mainstays did poorly because as you said they were before there was much daytime foot traffic and they were too specialized. I think the stores we really need are "destination stores" like a Tower Records or Urban Outfitters. A record store would've been an outstanding idea a few years ago but right now Virgin, etc are HURTING because of I-pods and electronic media.

The other issue is that parking is a bear. I think for retail to succeed the city will need to provide ample nearby free parking, something it is now unwilling to do. This is the key to the Plaza in KC's success and Hot Springs took a cue when it built its new downtown parking deck.

Ultimately I'd like to see a retail district downtown, perhaps a revitalized Main Street being the site.

The other issue is that we need downtown to bring in more restaurants, not just bars. This has been happening over the last few years but more are needed. If that area transitions to the metro's main dining destination, and not just drinking, I think becoming a retail destination is the next step. I would like to see a couple of upscale chains such as Ruth's Chris (no, I didn't forget Bosco's), come into the area to match the handful of original places like Nu and Vermillion Water Grille.

I think an indoor shopping area would be a mistake at this point.

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I think one thing that would do well are shops that can be utilized by downtown residential but also serve a bit of a specialty purpose, such as a gourmet grocery store. The boutique shops that were the early River Market mainstays did poorly because as you said they were before there was much daytime foot traffic and they were too specialized. I think the stores we really need are "destination stores" like a Tower Records or Urban Outfitters. A record store would've been an outstanding idea a few years ago but right now Virgin, etc are HURTING because of I-pods and electronic media.

The other issue is that parking is a bear. I think for retail to succeed the city will need to provide ample nearby free parking, something it is now unwilling to do. This is the key to the Plaza in KC's success and Hot Springs took a cue when it built its new downtown parking deck.

Ultimately I'd like to see a retail district downtown, perhaps a revitalized Main Street being the site.

The other issue is that we need downtown to bring in more restaurants, not just bars. This has been happening over the last few years but more are needed. If that area transitions to the metro's main dining destination, and not just drinking, I think becoming a retail destination is the next step. I would like to see a couple of upscale chains such as Ruth's Chris (no, I didn't forget Bosco's), come into the area to match the handful of original places like Nu and Vermillion Water Grille.

I think an indoor shopping area would be a mistake at this point.

We think quite similar b/c when I think of an idea that would work in the River Market, an Urban Outfitters type store comes to mind. I think of their store in Austin, a similar type location with the proximity to bars and all the walking traffic. If the retail location was "cool" enough I think people would fret less over the parking. I wonder if the new parking deck has helped out at all with parking, and if the deck offers River Market retailers to validate any parking? That would help matters also.

I think the other issue with retail in the River Market is lack of real estate. Truthfully its only possible right now from maybe Block2/On The Rocks to right past the Flying Fish. I wouldnt venture off that strip. If you did, you wouldnt get any of that foot traffic.

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This doesn't fall into the category of River Market Retail more of downtown retail but I had to say how impressed I was with the Louisiana Boardwalk, downtown Bossier City's new retail district essentially in the same place as the undeveloped part of downtown NLR would be. It has a mix of outlet retail, restaurants, a large movie theater, and "entertainment district".

Check out the links, courtesy of SBCmetroguy...

downtownBW.jpg

Lousiana Boardwalk

Map of Louisiana Boardwalk

Louisiana Boardwalk from Shreveport

The bottom link is a panorama and you'll need to click on the box to make it full-screen size to really get a good look at it.

Why couldn't something like that work here? It could incorporate existing buildings because of the lack of space or occupy the area East of the Clinton Library or East of I-30 in downtown NLR where things could easily be leveled or gutted, or both. Even better, depending on what's built first it could create a retail village between the areas of Main St Argenta, the new Travs ballpark, and the Maritime Museum/Alltel Arena. In all of these sites parking decks might have to replace surface parking due to lack of space.

Does someone have the balls to reestablish retail in downtown LR/NLR after the debacle of the Main Street Mall in the 1980s? It's a different time, a different situation and a more logical development with a track record of success elsewhere. I'd love to see something like this but wouldn't get my hopes up. This development incorporates a marina the way we want NLR and LR development to do and we could even integrate it with the ballpark and arena in NLR or Clinton Library and Heifer Project in LR.

Of course nobody will do it but why wait another 10-15 years to see what will happen with University the way we did over the last decade? This makes just as much sense. If you write "outlet" on it everyone in Arkansas will flock there, I assure you.

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This doesn't fall into the category of River Market Retail more of downtown retail but I had to say how impressed I was with the Louisiana Boardwalk, downtown Bossier City's new retail district essentially in the same place as the undeveloped part of downtown NLR would be. It has a mix of outlet retail, restaurants, a large movie theater, and "entertainment district".

Check out the links, courtesy of SBCmetroguy...

downtownBW.jpg

Lousiana Boardwalk

Map of Louisiana Boardwalk

Louisiana Boardwalk from Shreveport

The bottom link is a panorama and you'll need to click on the box to make it full-screen size to really get a good look at it.

Why couldn't something like that work here? It could incorporate existing buildings because of the lack of space or occupy the area East of the Clinton Library or East of I-30 in downtown NLR where things could easily be leveled or gutted, or both. Even better, depending on what's built first it could create a retail village between the areas of Main St Argenta, the new Travs ballpark, and the Maritime Museum/Alltel Arena. In all of these sites parking decks might have to replace surface parking due to lack of space.

Does someone have the balls to reestablish retail in downtown LR/NLR after the debacle of the Main Street Mall in the 1980s? It's a different time, a different situation and a more logical development with a track record of success elsewhere. I'd love to see something like this but wouldn't get my hopes up. This development incorporates a marina the way we want NLR and LR development to do and we could even integrate it with the ballpark and arena in NLR or Clinton Library and Heifer Project in LR.

Of course nobody will do it but why wait another 10-15 years to see what will happen with University the way we did over the last decade? This makes just as much sense. If you write "outlet" on it everyone in Arkansas will flock there, I assure you.

I agree. I had hoped the Bass Pro Shops Dark Hollows shopping project would not be approved and someone would come up with the idea of developing the area east of I-30 on the NLR side of the river. There is plenty of land waiting to be redeveloped eastward along the river. Just imagine shopping and taking in a movie and then strolling along the pedestrian bridge to the Clinton library.

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I agree. I had hoped the Bass Pro Shops Dark Hollows shopping project would not be approved and someone would come up with the idea of developing the area east of I-30 on the NLR side of the river. There is plenty of land waiting to be redeveloped eastward along the river. Just imagine shopping and taking in a movie and then strolling along the pedestrian bridge to the Clinton library.

To tell you the truth, the idea had never occurred to me until I saw that this had been done in Shreveport. In many ways we are comparable markets, if it worked there it could work here. I'm not particularly excited about what I've seen schematically at the Shoppes at North Hills.

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I'll have to ask Brian sometime but I had gotten the impression that the Boardwalk wasn't doing too well. But it would be nice to see something like that be able to succeed around the River Market area.

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I'll have to ask Brian sometime but I had gotten the impression that the Boardwalk wasn't doing too well. But it would be nice to see something like that be able to succeed around the River Market area.

Yeah, if you go online to their website and review the tenants, its pretty lame....seems like GAP was the only real nice offering (besides Bass Pro, and I guess thats a matter of opinion), and there were few to choose from. On the Skyscraper forum, some guy from Shreveport stated that its actually more like an "outlet" center. Weird. Anyway...hope it does well.

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Yeah, if you go online to their website and review the tenants, its pretty lame....seems like GAP was the only real nice offering (besides Bass Pro, and I guess thats a matter of opinion), and there were few to choose from. On the Skyscraper forum, some guy from Shreveport stated that its actually more like an "outlet" center. Weird. Anyway...hope it does well.

It's an outlet center and really just has a limited selection of outlets. However, SBC downtown revitalization is years behind that in LR. I think something like that could work much better. However, you have to wonder if land prices in downtown LR/NLR are too high to be compatible with that sort of development.

Bass Pro is practically a tourist destination in a place like Arkansas. There are a lot of people that will never set foot in the River Market or Park Plaza that will come to LR for an entire day just to go to Bass Pro and will end up eating there and hit other stores as well. It's important. I'm not at all thrilled about the schematics for the Shoppes at North Hills. It looks bland as can be.

I'd like to see a decent outlet center in Central Arkansas (there's a mediocre one in Hot Springs). Realistically Little Rock will never have one of the "Mills" malls or a large premium outlets but a moderate-sized outlet center with 20-25 stores would probably do very well.

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