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Pop-Up Main Street pops up

By Eric E. Harrison

This article was published November 8, 2012 at 2:27 a.m.

— Get a look at what Little Rock’s South Main neighborhood might someday look like at Pop-Up Main Street, 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday along South Main between Interstate 630 and 15th Street.

Create Little Rock, the young professionals’ arm of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and studioMain, a nonprofit design collective of architecture and design firms on Main Street, in collaboration with the nationwide Better Block urban revitalization organization (betterblock.org), are transforming the three blocks by reducing the street’s four lanes to two by adding a 10-foot-wide, tree-lined hay-bale center median and re-striping to create two bike lanes.

“The idea is to simulate what those few blocks could be like with a little more attention paid to them,” says Buckley O’Mell, a broker with commercial real estate firm Flake & Kelley and a member of Create Little Rock.

It’s not a street festival per se, O’Mell explains, but more of an opportunity “to come down and see what’s going on.”

The event will also feature food trucks, entertainment and artists and vendors in “pop-up” stores — some in currently vacant storefronts (Goodwill Industries will have a temporary store in operation), some in tents along the sidewalk. A dog park will be available on the east side of Main Street for well-behaved pets.

“It’s a demonstration of a complete street concept, including all modes of transportation, pedestrian, bicycle and vehicular,” says architect Chris East, a studio-Main board member.

East says the street striping will have been in place since Sunday and that city traffic engineers have been monitoring traffic with the idea of possibly keeping some portion of the new traffic pattern if it works.

A noon-10 p.m. Friday kickoff will see the trees being installed in the median and the opening of the popup shops, East adds.

During the evening, a band will play at Bernice Garden at 14th and Main streets; the Green Corner Store at 15th and Main will be open and serving beverages; and Oxford American will serve food at its new headquarters, 13th and Main, a sort of preview of the restaurant the magazine expects to open in the former Juanita’s building in January.

Admission is free. Call (501) 377-6007 or visit popupmainstreet.com.

Weekend, Pages 42 on 11/08/2012

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