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Tuesday, June 19, 2018, 6:42 p.m.

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OPINION

REX NELSON: Completing the puzzle in downtown Little Rock

By Rex Nelson

This article was published March 11, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

On the cover of today's Perspective section you'll find a story about the transformation of North Little Rock, especially its downtown and areas along the Arkansas River. The place Little Rock residents once derisively dismissed as Dogtown is-- shall we dare say it?--becoming hip. Meanwhile, some view the big brother on the other side of the river as stagnant. Indeed, job growth has been slow for the past decade, but a number of important pieces have come together in downtown Little Rock.

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Print Headline: Completing the puzzle

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Displaying 1 - 3 of 3 total comments

RBear says... March 11, 2018 at 7:33 a.m.

Agree with your points, Rex. After watching the transformation of downtown San Antonio and Austin from nominal urban districts inhabited by office workers during the day and tourists at night, it's great to see both become true urban centers that are attracting residents to live/work/play in the area.
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Little Rock is laying foundations that will reap great benefits in the urban core. A few other things I've noticed are the transit hub at Rock Street allowing downtown to be connected via transit to other areas of the city, the completion of the River Trail in the area of Dillard's offices, and connectivity to NLR (it doesn't need to be a competition and should be more cooperative).
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The challenge has been leadership in helping drive innovation. Kumpuris has been almost the lone advocate on the BoD with the mayor all but absent in the discussion. I've already made my views known about the need for new leadership, but no need to continue that here. The reason I bring this up is that both Austin and San Antonio grew under the leadership of strong mayors. Austin with the trio of Will Wynn, Lee Leffingwell, and now Steve Adler. San Antonio with Julian Castro (Decade of Downtown) and now Ron Nirenberg. All of these men saw the need to rebuild the urban core for a variety of reasons. A strong city has a strong downtown.
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But here is my list of challenges. Transit needs drastic improvement downtown. The hub is not enough. The street car is more a novelty than a true urban connector. A design review commission that understands urban growth rather than stifling any growth because of personal agendas. Too many projects were rejected for what I would see as small aesthetic differences of opinion rather than a true strategy.
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Finally, an urban plan is completely missing. The ReLocal plan is good for helping with infill development, but it's more a framework than a plan. The Creative Corridor plan is focused on one small area and not the urban core. It's time for an urban plan that addresses a lot of what you describe and other issues. It needs to be designed to help knit downtown together while there is opportunity. This should be a priority of the new mayor, along with other things.

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ArkieStrong says... March 12, 2018 at 4:18 a.m.

I think these observations are right on target. Having witnessed the transformation of downtown Little Rock from a daytime-only neighborhood, to a day-night destination, I am truly amazed at how far it has come. A mix of housing, employers, entertainment, and transit (emphasis) are key to continuing that growth.

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adibabdullah80gmailcom says... March 12, 2018 at 7:17 a.m.

I travel alot around America and i noticed the same things as well. Im glad NLR has finally decided to start move Argenta towards more of an Urban center . Its also time for LR to slowly start building its downtown, upwards. The Skyline as been the same for a while now and definitely needs a refresher. Nashville is the perfect example for LR to study and grab idea's from.

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