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Aporkalypse

Aesthetic Improvements in LR/NLR

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I guess I thought I'd start a thread regarding things the city could do to improve the city's visual presentation and ultimately its image. A lot has been done downtown and I think this has made considerable progress. What was once a ragged downtown full of urbay decay has been largely revived. I want to hear what your ideas are. Here are a few of mine, most of which are already priorities.

1. Renovate and light the downtown bridges. I think a series of updated well-lit bridges across the river downtown at night will really add a lot to downtown's allure. Ultimately I would like to see a plan to light not only the two railroad bridges but preferably all 6 downtown bridges, maybe all with different lighting concepts. Driving in to downtown at night from the North will be that much more impressive.

2. Rebirth of midtown Little Rock. The Midtowne Center is a big project which will help but to do this I think the key is a complete teardown and renewal of the University Mall and Sears properties. If this can be done in an impressive, upscale way I think you could see positive spillover all the way from the Cantrell/University intersection all the way down to the UALR campus. UAMS's new hospital and other additions are a big component of this. I would like to see a reborn War Memorial Park, possibly eliminating the golf course and definitely encompassing an expansion and complete updating of the zoo. If there was a ever a place to use the TIF in Arkansas, this is it.

3. Modernization of I-630 and its interchanges. Arkansas' only real urban interstate will ultimately have to be widened and have new interchanges at both ends. Why not do it first class with landscaping and artistic features like US 75 in Dallas or US 71 in KC? The extra cost is minimal.

4. Creation of a marina/waterfront culture along the Arkansas River. I think this would really make the downtown area more vibrant. We've been hearing about new developments along these lines for years, I'd love to finally see them.

5. Urban renewal along Main (in progress) and down East Markham to the train station. I think this would largely complete downtown's modernization.

6. The warehouse area east of downtown and west of the airport is a terrible eyesore and the River Market's positive momentum could be carried Eastward into these vacant and industrial buildings. Cleaning up everything all the way to the airport would do a lot to put a positive spin on the city's image as that area's far from impressive for travelers to see.

6a. The exact same thing could be said for the visible industrial areas in NLR east of the I-30 bridge and north of Alltel Arena and it would be great to see this cleaned up as well.

7. I'd love to see more scultures and fountains and "pocket parks" downtown. I think there are many areas where this could happen that would improve the citys' visual appeal.

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Some very god ideas. Here are a few I would like to see added.

1. Development along W. Capitol Ave. from Broadway to the Capitol. There a too many parking lots and little to no streetscaping. I think the state should help fund the way the main street to the Capitol looks.

2. In NLR the area between Main and I-30 from Broadway to 7th. I think the land just east of the trolley barn at Main and 7th would be a great place for a parking deck. Turn 7th into an entryway from I-30 to the Broadway Bridge.

3. I would also like to see 12th redeveloped from MLK to University. This would include tearing down the old Baptist Hospital near the Childrens Hospital so that 12th would connect to MLK. Somewhere north of 12th and south of I-630 build a LR branch of Pulaski Tech.

4. Construct a structure that would LR/NRL would be known for. It could be around 750 ft. tall. My suggestion would be a steel obelisk covered with a glass skin. The would allow the structure to be illuminated.

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1. Renovate and light the downtown bridges. I think a series of updated well-lit bridges across the river downtown at night will really add a lot to downtown's allure. Ultimately I would like to see a plan to light not only the two railroad bridges but preferably all 6 downtown bridges, maybe all with different lighting concepts. Driving in to downtown at night from the North will be that much more impressive.

2. Rebirth of midtown Little Rock. The Midtowne Center is a big project which will help but to do this I think the key is a complete teardown and renewal of the University Mall and Sears properties. If this can be done in an impressive, upscale way I think you could see positive spillover all the way from the Cantrell/University intersection all the way down to the UALR campus. UAMS's new hospital and other additions are a big component of this. I would like to see a reborn War Memorial Park, possibly eliminating the golf course and definitely encompassing an expansion and complete updating of the zoo. If there was a ever a place to use the TIF in Arkansas, this is it.

3. Modernization of I-630 and its interchanges. Arkansas' only real urban interstate will ultimately have to be widened and have new interchanges at both ends. Why not do it first class with landscaping and artistic features like US 75 in Dallas or US 71 in KC? The extra cost is minimal.

I like 1, 2 and 3 (I'm not familiar enough with LR like others, though, to opine much more). But especially in regards to #2, it seems to me midtown/War Memorial area has major potential to change for the better. Perhaps UAMS expansion will spur things, and/or the potential widening of I-630. Aesthetic improvements to I-630 would be slick, and the opportunity to do so would be along with any possible widening.

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The ideas mentioned in the previous posts are all good and have good merit.

Concerning transportation, I agree that I-630, including its I-430 and I-30 interchanges need to be modified and widened. Landscaping and aesthetics would be equally important.

With regard to North Little Rock, I understand the problems associated with improving I-30 and widening the Arkansas River bridge. Any solution would be a nightmare and at an astronomical cost. In my opinion, the North side problem could be fixed as follows. At the I-40-US 67/167 interchange, extend a new interstate due south, crossing the river near the northwest corner of the airport, then turning westerly and connecting to the I-30/I-630 interchange. Most traffic coming into Little Rock from US 67/167 would use this route and relieve a great deal of the I-40 and I-30 congestion. It would also provide an alternate route to the airport and could possibly provide a good alternate route to the Clinton Library and Heifer International. Looking at an aerial map on Google Earth, it appears it would work well and solve a lot of problems. As mentioned earlier, the east side industrial district needs to re-developed, and this would help promote that.

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It would be interesting to see the MacArthur Park area South of the River Market and bordered by I-30 to the East and I-630to the South labelled as the Arkansas Arts District or Little Rock Arts District. It's currently the home of the Arkansas Arts Center and the Decorative Arts Museum. The Kramer School was converted to lofts for artists to live in at subsidized cost. There are cool old pre-1910 buildings throughout the area and a lot of apartments - the area could be potentially artsier and funkier than Hillcrest. Perhaps part of MacArthur Park could become a large sculpture garden. There's also a 1900ish fire station that is being converted into the state's only youth hostel near MacArthur Park.

Arkansas Arts Center

littlerock01.jpg

Arkansas Military Heritage Museum

arsenal-3.jpg

Decorative Arts Museum (Albert Pike Mansion)

AlbertPikesHomeinLittleRock1.jpg

Kramer School (artists' lofts)

Kramer%20North.jpg

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The Decorative Arts Museum was closed in 2003. I do like your thoughts on an Arts District. The Rep is looking for a new home and Main Street south of 9th and north of I-630 would be a good place.

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The Decorative Arts Museum was closed in 2003. I do like your thoughts on an Arts District. The Rep is looking for a new home and Main Street south of 9th and north of I-630 would be a good place.

What a waste. Do you know what they're doing with the old Albert Pike Mansion? That's always been a hot spot for weddings, etc. A new home for the rep near the Arts Center is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. I guess it's also possible Curran Hall could be brought into the theme as well considering it's not going to be used for what it was intended.

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What a waste. Do you know what they're doing with the old Albert Pike Mansion? That's always been a hot spot for weddings, etc. A new home for the rep near the Arts Center is a great idea, I hadn't thought of that. I guess it's also possible Curran Hall could be brought into the theme as well considering it's not going to be used for what it was intended.

The city of Little Rock owns the Albert Pike Mansion. I don't know what it is being used for at this time.

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I guess this belongs in this thread. Anyway, I'm hearing that the Regions building downtown may recieve some aesthetic improvements including exterior lighting similar to the Metropolitan Building, re-designed entrances, lobby area and elevators.

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I guess this belongs in this thread. Anyway, I'm hearing that the Regions building downtown may recieve some aesthetic improvements including exterior lighting similar to the Metropolitan Building, re-designed entrances, lobby area and elevators.

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That's good news. I know a group of CA investors recently bought the building from Regions.

I was driving across the I-430 bridge and notices the new lighting scheme on the "Big Dam Bridge". It's nice and all, I'm not complaining. But I drove downtown across I-30 around 9PM and the riverfront seemed so dark to me. It would be so much cooler to have had these lights along one of the downtown bridges, perhaps the Main St Bridge.

In any case, I think more lighting along the Riverfront Parks on both sides and on the bridges will go a long way to making the area more vibrant.

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I agree and really don't understand why this hasn't already happened. On the list of aesthetic improvements, good lighting has to be at the top in terms of bang for your buck. The 6 bridges project is obviously going to take forever. Why not at least get some kind of lighting scheme on the bridges immediately?

Anyone want to take a guess on the cost for decent lighting.

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I agree and really don't understand why this hasn't already happened. On the list of aesthetic improvements, good lighting has to be at the top in terms of bang for your buck. The 6 bridges project is obviously going to take forever. Why not at least get some kind of lighting scheme on the bridges immediately?

Anyone want to take a guess on the cost for decent lighting.

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This was a recommendation from the Vision LR Culture and Tourism subgroup. It was estimated at several (single digits) million to light the bridges and a million per year to keep them lit. A lot of people really like the idea, but it is cost prohibitive.

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I guess I thought I'd start a thread regarding things the city could do to improve the city's visual presentation and ultimately its image. A lot has been done downtown and I think this has made considerable progress. What was once a ragged downtown full of urbay decay has been largely revived. I want to hear what your ideas are. Here are a few of mine, most of which are already priorities.

1. Renovate and light the downtown bridges. I think a series of updated well-lit bridges across the river downtown at night will really add a lot to downtown's allure. Ultimately I would like to see a plan to light not only the two railroad bridges but preferably all 6 downtown bridges, maybe all with different lighting concepts. Driving in to downtown at night from the North will be that much more impressive.

2. Rebirth of midtown Little Rock. The Midtowne Center is a big project which will help but to do this I think the key is a complete teardown and renewal of the University Mall and Sears properties. If this can be done in an impressive, upscale way I think you could see positive spillover all the way from the Cantrell/University intersection all the way down to the UALR campus. UAMS's new hospital and other additions are a big component of this. I would like to see a reborn War Memorial Park, possibly eliminating the golf course and definitely encompassing an expansion and complete updating of the zoo. If there was a ever a place to use the TIF in Arkansas, this is it.

3. Modernization of I-630 and its interchanges. Arkansas' only real urban interstate will ultimately have to be widened and have new interchanges at both ends. Why not do it first class with landscaping and artistic features like US 75 in Dallas or US 71 in KC? The extra cost is minimal.

4. Creation of a marina/waterfront culture along the Arkansas River. I think this would really make the downtown area more vibrant. We've been hearing about new developments along these lines for years, I'd love to finally see them.

5. Urban renewal along Main (in progress) and down East Markham to the train station. I think this would largely complete downtown's modernization.

6. The warehouse area east of downtown and west of the airport is a terrible eyesore and the River Market's positive momentum could be carried Eastward into these vacant and industrial buildings. Cleaning up everything all the way to the airport would do a lot to put a positive spin on the city's image as that area's far from impressive for travelers to see.

6a. The exact same thing could be said for the visible industrial areas in NLR east of the I-30 bridge and north of Alltel Arena and it would be great to see this cleaned up as well.

7. I'd love to see more scultures and fountains and "pocket parks" downtown. I think there are many areas where this could happen that would improve the citys' visual appeal.

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630 won't need to be widened, it's wide enough already. I'm all for a marina along the river though. Where do you think one could fit along the downtown riverfront?

What sort of renewal have you seen long Main?

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630 will be widened at some point. It's already over max capacity. It may only be the eastern half where lanes can be added more easily, to add lanes downtown would require rebuilding all of the overpasses which would be expensive and tedious. The new 630/430 interchange will happen in the next few years, though.

The most obvious sites for the marina are where two marina developments were planned and failed - the first has been proposed for more than 5 years and was supposed to be East of the Heifer Project HQs along the river, a new Blvd was to be built there to accomodate development. There were going to be several condo buildings 3-4 stories high, a lighthouse, and restaurant. That site would be perfect. Another site was along the NLR riverfront west of Dickey-Stephens and including a high rise and small marina. That is definitely nixed and that property's for sale. Riverdale would also be a nice spot for a marina.

As far as renewal along Main, the main elements thus far are Lafayette Square which is a major residential project with ground floor retail that takes up a city block and the conversion of the old Donaghey Building to condos. More remotely, the Block 2 Loft conversions helped start things. Stephens has bought much of the northern parts of Main and has big plans but they are pretty closely held. The Center Theater was to be converted to an upscale moviehouse by Stephens but the structure was too poor to restore. He also wanted to build a large new site for the Rep at the parking lot on 2nd and Main but this never happened because they failed to get a Reynolds Foundation grant, though it's still planned for some point in the future.

I agree. Perhaps this was an overly grandiose plan. A million a year is beyond excessive.

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It's a shame, but you're right, they probably will widen 630. Riverdale though, I could definitely see a marina there. :thumbsup:

Donaghey's going condo? I didn't hear that. When is that happening? And how is Lafayette coming along? They seem behind schedule.

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This was a recommendation from the Vision LR Culture and Tourism subgroup. It was estimated at several (single digits) million to light the bridges and a million per year to keep them lit. A lot of people really like the idea, but it is cost prohibitive.

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Donaghey was purchased for the purpose of condo conversion 2-3 years ago. The holdup for quite a while was the lack of parking. The investor wanted to buy the parking deck for less than the city paid to build it and despite the fact the city was taking a loss on it every year it couldn't sell it. Finally a couple of mos ago they agreed to lease it and interior demolition work has been going on for a couple of mos.

Lafayette Square will be done one building at a time, starting with the Lafayette Building. I have no idea how much has been done there, it's been going on for several mos.

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Was that for all 6 bridges? If so, I wonder what it would cost just to light the Junction Bridge and maybe the Main St. Bridge.

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