← Back to issues
Main Street Revival

Main Street Revival

March 28, 2013

Vol 39 • No 30

Read the print version

Main Street revival

The past, present and future of Main in Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Little Rock downtowners

Community without the commute.

Moses, Tucker and downtown Little Rock

Nearly synonymous.

When buildings play movies: the Creative Corridor plan for Little Rock

Last December, the city of Little Rock unveiled the Creative Corridor, a master plan to revitalize four blocks of Main Street.

Warren Stephens: All business

Says Main Street needs private dollars to boom.

Dreams for a decade, action now: A Q&A with Bob Hupp

An interview with producing artistic director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre.

Anita Davis: the distaff side of Main

She nurtures new life, with garden and more.

Starting from the top, in Argenta

North Little Rock's Main Street revitalization got a head start on Little Rock's, thanks to Argenta Community Development Corp., whose work to restore 100 houses in the historic neighborhood starting in 1993 and create a more stable residential area was a catalyst for Main Street improvements.

The role of art on Main in North Little Rock

Mending the historic fabric of the Argenta neighborhood, the restoration of its 19th and early 20th century properties, played an important role in its revitalization.

The Baker House's Scott Miller on the appeal of Argenta

Main Street in Argenta wasn't always a refined place of restaurants, art walks and community theater. But it has always been a place with good bones.

Bennett's has seen three centuries

Bennett's Military Supplies opened in 1870, which makes it unquestionably the oldest surviving retail shop in Little Rock.

Mr. Cool caters to adventurous dressers

Mr. Cool shouldn't, by all rights, exist in this day and age. A general clothing store in a downtown core, it's like something out of another era.

Obscure titles and a well-stocked X-rated section have kept RAO video alive

Could there be a greater anachronism these days than a video rental store? Didn't somebody declare the idea of renting a movie from an actual person dead as a doornail about the time the Blockbuster leviathan went belly up some years back? And yet, there is the reality of Main Street's RAO Video.

Argenta Drug is living history

It's hard to imagine a better example of a Main Street survivor — or a survivor anywhere, for that matter — than Argenta Drug at 324 Main St. in North Little Rock.

Connectivity: Business and governance by citizen legislature

Little attention has been given to an interesting little story Michael Cook wrote about the other day in Talk Business.

UPDATE: Bill would end nursing home wrongful death lawsuits

The new Republican legislative majority is settling so many scores and catering to so many base interests that it's truly impossible to keep up with them all.

DHS releases actuarial numbers behind "private option" study

The Arkansas Department of Human Services last week released a summary of findings that expanding healthcare coverage via the "private option" would cost the feds less than 15 percent more than traditional Medicaid expansion, and could even come at no additional cost at all.

Speaking of Jim Dotson: Then there's school governance

Events today reminded me of another piece of legislation by Rep. Jim Dotson of Bentonville, who sponsored the resolution approved today affirming the legislature's support for gay discrimination in federal law and the Arkansas Constitution.

The best speech of the legislative session

The Arkansas House didn't heed Rep. Deborah Ferguson's stirring call to, for once, "stand on the right side of civil rights" (past examples she cited — slavery, early opposition to women's rights, seg laws). On a voice vote, the House approved a resolution reaffirming Arkansas's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and supporting the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Don't gloss over the booze in Steubenville case

If I were attorney general of Ohio, prosecutions in the Steubenville rape case wouldn't end with the conviction of two high school football players. In interviews, Mike DeWine indicated that he might seek additional charges, possibly obstruction of justice and failure to report child abuse.

Assertion v. insertion

From a letter to the editor — "However, they did not accurately understand the truth and asserted 'contradictories' into their writings."

Capitol protest

Around 500 gathered March 30 to protest the state legislature.

Bringing Global Kids to Little Rock

Local rapper spearheads effort.

Republican politico Princella Smith gains policy chops in Israel

What follows is your typical story of a 6-foot-tall black female Republican who starts off in Wynne, Arkansas, and ends up in Israel, writing for a Zionist newspaper and studying counter-terrorism.

Barth: The DREAM remains alive

Within days, we will know whether the Arkansas DREAM Act, the legislation focused on providing in-state college tuition to undocumented young people who have been educated in the state's high schools, has legs in this legislative session.

The floor to Gov. Beebe

Gov. Mike Beebe on Monday vetoed the Republican vote suppression bill because it unnecessarily restricts the right to vote. It was courageous.

Getting a buzz on at the Hive

Penguins and pork chops stand out.

Ten years after

It was a good week for a veto

It was also a good week for expansion, a tax cut and a protest. It was a bad week for old favorites from retrograde legislators.

Arkansas Ledge in the shadows

Quotes and allusions

"Forty-two-year-old Cal Amadee of Bare Ridge was found unresponsive this morning in his cell. He was being held in a single medical cell due to flue like symptoms."

Cosby and The Coo Coo Birads at Stickyz

Also, Rouxster at Afterthought, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra at the Statehouse Convention Center, MacArthur Unleashed at MacArthur Park, Machine Gun Kelly at Juanita's, 25th Annual Community Easter Sunrise Service and Hot 8 Brass Band at White Water Tavern.

Diamond Hogs search for consistency

Baseball, for all its puffed-up charm as a piece of Americana, is really a pretty fiendish oddity. At the collegiate level, it's especially true.

Cody Belew talks Heifer benefit, upcoming projects

The Times caught up with Beebe native and "The Voice" contestant Cody Belew this week

Obamacare, finally

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, celebrated its third birthday Saturday, and you get the feeling that the infant that was so widely unwanted after its difficult birth is gaining family adulation as it develops a personality and character.

Born free

The Observer saw him while walking out of The Observatory the other day: a bright yellow parakeet, perched on a branch over the driveway.

The need for racial impact statements

Arkansas needs the legislature to pass Senate Bill 1093, a bill requiring a racial impact statement for any legislation introduced that affects punishments for a crime. Why, some would ask? Well, we haven't finished the work that we started when we ended convict leasing that allowed the punishment system to target African American men.

Netflix pix: 'Kumare'

With Easter just passed, I've been thinking a lot about faith — why we need it, what purpose it serves, and just how devout many of the people who claim to be religious really are. It's a question for the ages, and will probably be debated until the sun goes supernova or language finally devolves into a series of squeaks and grunts, whichever comes first.

The 10th Annual Racial Attitudes Conference

James McMurtry at George's Majestic Lounge, too.

Liberty and UAMS

Just as every mass shooting in this country produces a counter-intuitive cry for more guns in circulation, so every showing of the harm done by merging religion and government drives Arkansas officials to pursue amalgamation more ardently.

Looking good

The awful legislative session now raging may go into the history books as Beebe's Finest Hour. The governor wouldn't like that — he'd rather be remembered for doing good things than for trying unsuccessfully to stop bad things — but sometimes it's our response to adversity that most distinguishes us.

'Die Hard' in D.C., but dumber

'Olympus Has Fallen' has 15-year-old boys in its sights.

Mark Pryor: Worse than Tom Cotton on gay rights

A campaigner for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor told me weeks ago there'd be moments undoubtedly when people of my political persuasion would be unhappy with some of the positions he took in his re-election campaign.

The Taxpayer Supported Demagoguery Act

You know how Republicans have become masters at giving misleading labels to legislation in hopes (often realized) that the press will use these labels in news coverage?

Chamber endorses 'private option' Medicaid plan

This ought to cinch it. The masters of the universe have spoken: The Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Associated Industries of Arkansas has today announced its support for the “private option” healthcare coverage approach currently under discussion by members of the Arkansas General Assembly and the Governor’s office.

Daughtry, Sugar Ray, Darius Rucker, Lupe Fiasco, Drive By Truckers, Peter Frampton and more to Riverfest

Lupe Fiasco will perform at Riverfest this year.

"Portraits in Gray" opens Friday at Laman

"Portraits in Gray: A Civil War Photography Exhibition" features 70 images from the collection of an Atlanta collector.

Friday To-Do: Cosby, The Coo Coo Birds

Cosby plays at Stickyz Friday night.

Friday To-Do: Rouxster

Rouxster plays at The Afterthought Friday.

Riverfest music lineup announced

You do read Rock Candy don't you? If not and you're a Riverfest devotee, check it out today for the headliner lineup for this year's Memorial Day weekend party on the river.

Gun nuttery loses round in Arkansas legislature

Today was the day in House Judiciary for Bullet Bob Ballinger's bill to assert state supremacy on various matters related to firearms.

Thursday: New Music Test, 'JFK' and more

The Argenta Film Series screens "JFK" at Argenta Community Theater Thursday.

The Sound of the Mountain and Mainland Divide, tonight at White Water Tavern

The Sound of the Mountain plays at White Water Tavern.

UPDATE: No vote today on effort to override veto of vote bill

Rep. Stephen Meeks said on Twitter this afternoon that he wouldn't move for a vote today on a House vote to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the Republican Party's voter ID bill, national cookie-cutter legislation the GOP has rolled out to suppress the vote of traditional Democratic constituencies that lack driver licenses and ready means to go through steps needed to get required ID. Meeks later told the AP the delay was because of a long agenda and that he'd try next week.

Here's a new video for Cody Belew and Meghan Linsey's 'Baby Don't Go'

Cody Belew released a new video with singer Meghan Linsey.

Banko: It's not just about dollars: UPDATE

St. Vincent Health CEO Peter Banko said in an interview today that the decision to affiliate with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences will not be made on savings alone — the $38 million to $63 million estimated by a Deloitte Consulting study isn’t so great that it’s a deal-maker — but also on the ability of the third-party affiliated entity to expand.

Heritage Hog Roast: Make plans now

OK, you may not always like our politics, but I think you'll like our cooking.

Friday To-Do: Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform at the Statehouse Convention Center Saturday.

The stop-and-smell-the-tulips open line

Another day done. Final items:

Arts education bill passes House committee

Paul Leopoulos, director of the THEA Foundation, and state Rep. Paul McLean, chair of the House Education Committee, made a successful pitch today before the committee to give a do pass to HB1689 to create a pilot program in 15 schools to test the Arkansas A+ arts-infused education model.

Headlines: Hogs, Civil War, deficits

I turned the pages of the New York Times quickly this morning (yes, turned pages of the print edition) and passed a number of articles worthy of note, particularly: * THE GREAT RAZORBACK MIGHT-HAVE-BEEN: Remember Dana Altman, the Creighton basketball coach who spent one day as Razorback coach, then gave it up to return home to Omaha.

Group presses city on street work

Arkansas Community Organizations has scheduled a tour Saturday of the parts of town where need is greatest for the street work promised by the city's massive sales tax increase.

Family values: Health coverage for UAMS now and the future

I was copied on an e-mail being circulated at UAMS. It is building support for a resolution before the Academic Senate at UAMS for partner benefits in health insurance for the University of Arkansas System.

Prospects good for steel mill subsidies

Sounds like this turkey is cooked. Direct support by House Speaker Davy Carter and slightly qualified support by Senate President Michael Lamoureux would make it appear Gov. Mike Beebe is going to get his big state subsidy to help a startup steel mill operation in Mississippi County, despite stout opposition from an existing competitor that cranked up here without such millions in taxpayer help.

Weekend: James McMurtry, Collin vs. Adam, Luminox and more

Collin vs. Adam plays at The Joint Saturday night.

Contractor chosen for Robinson Center renovation

CDI Contractors of Little Rock, in partnership with the Hunt Construction group, has been chosen by the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission to handle the expansion and renovation of the Robinson Center and its music hall.

Who's a lobbyist

I got a note last night from Steve Patterson, former aide to former U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, objecting mildly to my calling her a lobbyist in an item about Sen. Mark Pryor's comments on gay rights.

Food Feedback Friday: a box, a pantry, a root

Some as always, share with us where and what you are eating this week. We're chomping at the bit.

Republicans don't want poor people to vote

When they say it (voter ID, whatever) isn't about race or poor people .... Check this out.

Arkansas jobless rate unchanged in February

The Arkansas unemployment rate in February held steady at 7.2 percent. Details here.

Big government: Now the Republicans like it UPDATE

There's some self-back-patting on Twitter this morning about the Republican idea introduced by Sen. David Sanders to put an office of Medicaid inspector general in the governor's office.

Food happenings on Saturday

Two events for your consideration on what's supposed to be a rainy Saturday.

Sunday To-Do: Machine Gun Kelly

Machine Gun Kelly returns to Juanita's Sunday.

Sunday To-Do: Community Easter Sunrise Service

The Community Easter Sunrise Service is Sunday at Riverfest Amphitheater.

"Be Kind to Animals" art contest

Pulaski County Humane Society announces its 8th annual contest in honor of “Be Kind to Animals” week May 1-8.

Here are the winners of our 'Monty Python's Spamalot' giveaway

"Monty Python's Spamalot" comes to Robinson Center Music Hall Monday and Tuesday.

They're streaming a new track from The Body over at Pitchfork

The Body will release "Master, We Perish" April 30.

Conservatives continue to sound positive about "private option"

Nate Bell, Charlie Collins, David Sanders, Medicaid expansion, private option

DHS's controversial theory: private option $100s of millions cheaper than Medicaid expansion

Two big headlines from the DHS release of actuarial findings on expansion options yesterday. They project that 1) The "private option" saves $670 million to the state bottom line over ten years.

Expand-o-meter: chances of expansion keep jumping up

Today’s chances of passing expansion: 85%Last week’s chances: 82%See here for previous entries on the Expand-o-Meter

The Good God Friday Edition

Prop 8 and DOMA and the Arkansas General Assembly and Sen. Mark Pryor shameful responses where, the fight over voter ID, media criticism of the Democrat-Gazette, the morality of Republican tax cuts, Big River Steel, new numbers on expansion and the latest on the potential merger between UAMS and St. Vincent — all covered on this week's edition.

The fences-make-bad-neighbors open line

Dead around here. Then I remembered, it's kind of sort of a holiday.

I bet Tim Griffin did hustle out to the pipeline oil spill

I think it's worth a separate bit of attention to the pipeline break and crude oil spill, which apparently followed an explosion.

School vouchers don't work

You just have to follow Diane Ravitch if you live in this land of Stepford legislators who accept pronouncements from the Billionaire Boys Club school reform lobby as holy writ.

Speaker Carter gets touchy on senator's outburst

The Arkansas legislature faces a six-day week next week because of the need for extended meetings to complete action on pending business before the currently scheduled end of the session April 19.

Gun nuttery: We ain't done yet

I couldn't begin to catalogue all the steps taken by the Arkansas legislature to combat a problem that doesn't exist.

Live, it's Saturday night

The line is open. We finish up with the threat of pipeline companies taking your property; a thanks to President Obamacare for private option Medicaid expansion, and a tour of Little Rock's neglected streets.

Rainy days and Sundays

Hmmm. Late and not much to bring at this point, either: * HAPPY EASTER: I did join a good crowd beneath the River Market pavilions for Pulaski Methodist's sunrise service this morning and did get to give a good hug to Swann Kohler, my old friend who got the ball rolling 25 years ago.

There will be oil and an open line

Slow and improving day. The line is open.

Another major oil spill; and Nate Bell pulls back on eminent domain bill

By EPA standards, the oil spill at Mayflower wasn't the only major one in Arkansas this month.

Through the back door with money for home schoolers

Good story from Rob Moritz of Stephens Media on an underhanded little ol' amendment from Sen. Johnny Key of Mountain Home to open the flood gates of state money to support home schoolers with tax dollars.

Tuesday: The Frontier Circus at White Water, Amy Grant at UCA

The Frontier Circus plays at White Water Tavern Tuesday.

Exxon Mobil's oil leak report

Exxon Mobil has established a webpage with information on the major spill of heavy Canadian crude from a break in its Pegasus pipeline near Mayflower.

Speaker Davy Carter's got game — nobody loves guns more

Good way to distract attention from unhappiness over House Speaker Davy Carter's failure to move expeditiously enough for some Republicans on the House vote to legalize vote suppression (voter ID) in Arkansas by overriding Gov. Mike Beebe's veto.

Pizzeria Santa Lucia brings a slice of Naples to Arkansas

Little Rock's first look at authentic Neapolitan pizza comes from the mobile pizza oven at Pizzeria Santa Lucia. They're just beginning to roam the streets of Arkansas, hoping to spread the gospel of great pizza to all willing to listen.

Federal report backgrounds Nuclear One accident

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has posted an initial report on the accident Sunday at Arkansas Nuclear One that killed one worker and injured others.

Arkansas housing sales report mixed in February

The Arkansas Realtors Association report on housing sales in Arkansas February shows the number of sales down slightly from a year ago, by 1.5 percent, but prices up by more than 7 percent.

Another honor for chef Watkins

She's the lone Arkansas nominee for a people's award from Food and Wine magazine.

Horns double Bernice sculpture award

Deadline to enter design is April 15.

Little Rock Film Festival moves downtown, adds new $10,000 prize

The Little Rock Film Festival will achieve organizers long-stated goal of having a walkable festival this year. All of the festival's venues will be within walking distance from downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.

Little Rock Athletic Club, 3 others sold to group including Stephens members

An e-mail from Pat Riley Jr. announces the sale of the Little Rock Athletic Club, effective today, to a group of executives from Stephens Inc., led by Brad Eichler.

House overrides Beebe veto of voter ID bill

At 2:20 p.m., the House is hearing arguments from Rep. Stephen Meeks to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the bill to require a photo ID to vote in Arkansas.

Mugs Cafe drop-in Thursday in Argenta

The Church at Argenta has begun work to put a coffee shop, Mugs Cafe, at 515 Main St., next door to the Argenta Market.

Check out the new Cody Belew video 'Say Love'

Cody Belew released a new song and video today.

Open line Monday

It's your turn. Closing out with Grover Norquist, pipeline peril for Lake Maumelle and the growing list of lawsuits to be spawned by this legislature.

The war on the poor continues

Some odds and ends to start the day. * THE WAR ON THE POOR THROUGH PAYDAY LENDING: Is it really a surprise that a gang of Republican lawmakers is trying again to open the legal door to bring the blood-suckday payday lending industry back into Arkansas?

State tax revenue dips in March UPDATE

The monthly state revenue report shows a dip in receipts in March, both against last year and below the forecast.

Wednesday To-Do: Hot 8 Brass Band

The Hot 8 Brass Band plays at White Water Tavern Wednesday.

Standing firm for abortion rights in North Dakota

Good interview by the Washington Post with the director of North Dakota's only abortion provider, a a clinic that the legislature there has been trying by man means — several similar to efforts underway in Arkansas — to legislate out of existence.

Arkansas Republican leaders endorse "private option"

Big news last night with the announcement that House Speaker Davy Carter and Senate President Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux have endorsed the “private option” for healthcare expansion.

McDaniel to investigate Mayflower pipeline spill

Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who's been something less than an environmental crusader to date, has announced that he'll investigate the Exxon Mobil pipeline spill that drenched a Mayflower neighborhood with thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian crude oil.

Spend the evening at Little Rock's newest farmer's market at The Shoppes on Woodlawn

Little Rock's newest farmer's market will be running during the evenings, giving market goers even more flexibility in when they'd like to shop for some of Arkansas's finest produce and artisanal products.

NRA uses Asa Hutchinson to call for more guns in school

The National Rifle Association, with Arkansas Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson as front man for the gun lobby, has a Washington news conference at 10 a.m. to announce their suggestion for response to recent gun violence in school.

The fight for school 'choice' looks one-sided

Several complaints have arisen this morning that the House Education Committee, which is hearing several so-called "school choice" bills this morning, that only supporters of the bilsl are being allowed in the room.

Judge strikes down initiative law limits

I mentioned yesterday that a lawsuit was already cooking should the legislature pass a proposal being pushed by the two Arkansas casinos at West Memphis and Hot Springs to make it difficult to put initiated acts and amendments on the ballot.

Feds give 'conceptual' OK to private option Medicaid plan

Gov. Mike Beebe's office has announced positive news from the federal government on the proposal to expand Medicaid by moving those eligible to coverage under private insurance programs through the new health insurance exchanges.

War on Women continues: Republicans again kill ERA in Senate committee

Sen. Joyce Elliott will try again today. A resolution for Arkansas to ratify the federal Equal Rights Amendment is on the Senate State Agencies Committee agenda at 10 a.m. this morning.

Ross resigns Power Pool job; governor's race looks more likely

Roby Brock at Talk Business reports that Mike Ross, the former congressman recently turned lobbyist-in-waiting for the Southwest Power Pool, has resigned from his government affairs job.

Check out Thea Arts Festival webpage

Paul Leopoulos, director of the THEA Foundation, has shared the link to the Thea Arts Festival webpage, and what a lineup of artists the festival has!

Arkansas “private option” experiment full speed ahead after releases from feds

While lawmakers will clamor for further assurances and details from the feds, the information released in recent days has affirmed the basic framework of the Arkansas “private option” (although you might not have known it reading some responses in the national media).

Tuesday night line: Steel mill advances, judgeships, raw milk, gay rights, oil spill

The line is open. Some final notes: * WHO PAYS FOR OIL SPILLS?: This was an amazing piece of news to me. Pipeline companies pay into a fund that is used for cleanups when disasters happen.

The most decadent burger on earth

Three pampered meats come together into something amazing.

Republican lawmakers weigh "private option" legislation

After weeks of discussion following the "private option" announcement, the legislature finally has an actual bill to debate.