A new "pocket neighborhood" has joined a development renaissance underway in a lightly populated section of North Little Rock near the Arkansas River.
The Porches at Rockwater is the latest residential community being developed by Lisa Ferrell and her husband, Jim Jackson.
Situated between the Baring Cross neighborhood off Pike Avenue and the river, the 15 lots encircle a shared green space. Five of the lots have been sold and, according to Ferrell, construction will begin in about a month.
The development is near Rockwater Village, the residential area that the couple also developed. That 33-lot development is about 80 percent sold.
"This year has been our strongest so far with 10 lots being sold," Ferrell said.
A pocket neighborhood is essentially a neighborhood within a neighborhood, small enough that all the residents should get to know one another. A key element is the shared space, which proponents of the pocket neighborhood say fosters a sense of security and identity.
Other area pocket neighborhoods include Black Apple in Bentonville and Harbor Town in Memphis.
The Porches at Rockwater is being pitched to a segment of homebuyers that wants what is describe as "walkable and livable" communities in which residents don't have to rely on vehicles to get around.
The development has easy access to the Arkansas River Trail that skirts along the both sides of the river and the 64-slip Rockwater Marina. It is within easy walking distance of Dickey-Stephens Park, the home of the Arkansas Travelers minor-league baseball team, and the Argenta entertainment district in downtown North Little Rock.
The concept fit the bill for Scott and Katherine Scholl, whose enthusiasm for cycling took them by Rockwater Village often enough to check Ferrell's website, meet with her and purchase one of the first five lots.
"We are cyclists," Katherine Scholl said. "We ride by here all the time. It pretty much fit in our lifestyle."
The homes start at $260,000. They have three bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,700 square feet.
They are aimed at "folks who want knockout beautiful homes but they prefer quality over quantity," Ferrell said.
The Porches at Rockwater and Rockwater Village are part of a broader development effort Ferrell and Jackson have undertaken that includes improvements to homes in the Baring Cross area. Habitat for Humanity and the Argenta Community Development Corp. also are involved in work on neighborhood houses.
Harlan Hunter said his was the first black family to move into Baring Cross in 1970. He left but eventually returned to the neighborhood, where his parents reside. He is now president of the Baring Cross Neighborhood Association.
He credits Ferrell and Jackson with helping improve the neighborhood for everyone.
"My whole thing was how can we work together, not eliminating certain people, not feel like they're getting pushed out," he said. "You're going to see a big difference, not only in Rockwater but in Baring Cross."
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith said the Rockwater development is only the beginning for the area.
"In the next 18 months, we're going to have more happen in North Little Rock than we've had in the last 10 years," he said at a groundbreaking ceremony for the Porches at Rockwater last week. "A lot of exciting things are happening, and this is one of the reasons."
Those comments came the day before First Orion, an Arkansas company that develops and sells software to help cellphone users identify and block unwanted calls, announced it would build its new $10 million global headquarters in Argenta.
But Smith points to two pieces of riverfront property still undeveloped as part of the city's future.
One is a 5.6-acre tract that Terraforma LLC of Little Rock acquired earlier this year for $2.6 million from North Little Rock. It is just west of the Broadway bridge and between the river and West Riverfront Drive. It has been used as a staging area for bridge construction.
At the time, Terraforma's managing member, Doug Meyer, said the company wanted to develop the property into a mixed-use area that would include a hotel, condominiums, offices, restaurants and shops.
The bridge is all but completed, but Meyer said last week that the company wasn't quite ready to announce its plans for the property.
"We are zeroing in the best use of the property and are staying with the 'live, work and play' concept," he said. "I can say we are getting very close to a final plan that would allow us to move forward."
Also still in play is a nearly 40-acre tract west of Rockwater Village.
Arkopolis Properties LLC of Maumelle paid $1.75 million to Pine Bluff Sand & Gravel for the property on River Road east of Paul Duke Drive.
Blake Jackson, a managing partner of Monde Group in Maumelle and an officer with Arkopolis, said in May that the plans were to build a resort community but a construction start was still 18 months away. He also said then that the project backers were building on the momentum created, in part, by Rockwater.
Smith said he hasn't spoken with Jackson, but is confident the project will proceed.
"I don't think they bought it to sit on it," Smith said.
SundayMonday Business on 11/19/2017
Print Headline: Developers adding a 'pocket'; Tiny neighborhood going in near Rockwater Village in NLR