Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola continues to thump the tub for the “Creative Corridor,” current branding for four blocks of Main Street/aka the Metrocentre Mall/aka Downtown is Uptown.
They are dubbing an event at 3 p.m. today at the Rep the “official grand opening” of that stretch of Main, meaning, I guess, that the seemingly eternal “low-impact” streetscape construction project (no, those are not weeds in those embedded planters) is at last at an end. (Narrowing the street, it happens, combined with morning and afternoon rush hours at eStem Charter School school to regularly create traffic snafus.)
Much has happened along the street, but George Waldon of Arkansas Business writes comprehensively this week of what remains undone or is still in progress. Completed projects, by the way, look to be those done almost wholly in conventional business fashion — private capital, private businesses and organizations that raised their own money. The problem-plagued, no-money-down projects of Oregon developer Scott Reed — still spoken of reassuringly by Stodola — are another matter. Incomplete. Behind schedule. Subject of legal action.
Next year, the promise is that the Little Rock Tech Park, which has the gestational equivalent of an elephant, is supposedly to begin construction. That is another project that, to date, has had only financial input from city and state taxpayers.
Downtown IS becoming a magnet for younger people. There is much more to see, do, eat and drink on Main than in many years. But private capital — not corporate welfare or new sidewalks and ecologically friendly shrubbery — has been a critical force, along with a welcome national trend of return to core cities. The city encourages this trend and that’s all to the good.