Conway has been here before.
Any city that experiences the growth that Conway has gets these nuggets of news from time to time. But how can anyone not get excited about it?
The site of the old airport, Cantrell Field, will be completely transformed into a major shopping hub with access just off the highway. Tired of heading into Little Rock for that specialty store? Maybe it will be added to the wide variety of options we already have. Need even more dining options? There promises to be another slew of eateries that will give families, students and everyone else a place to chow down.
And it looks like those doing the developing are doing it right, making sure infrastructure is in place, making sure commitments are inked by anchor stores long before any construction begins.
We can quibble with the name — “Central Landing” doesn’t really have any panache, and the logo is bland as well — but we have a few years to change a few people’s minds about that.
The amount of money being talked about is enough to make your head spin. $2 billion in additional sales revenue over 10 years? An extra $34 million in sales taxes collected? That is staggering even by optimistic estimates.
There is also the possibility that one of the phases of development could include a Conway Convention Center, which could be linked to one of the discussed new hotels that would populate the area. When asked nonchalantly by a radio host at the business expo Thursday, Conway Chamber Executive Jamie Gates gave the classic shrug of the shoulders. So even if it’s not a top priority, it certainly can be talked about as a possibility.
Can we sustain it? Can we support it? We have done well in the past, and hopefully, this will be another feather in our cap. Devoting $18 million to street infrastructure is going to take some fancy bookkeeping in order to make sure other projects stay on track, but if the option is to turn our noses up to this type of development chance, count us in on the new stores, new jobs and new revenue.
A great responsibility is now in the hands of our city ad business leaders. Conway has a chance to take a big step in making the community entirely independent of Little Rock. Part of that is Central Landing, the ability to give more options to our residents. More options can mean more money, which can help the city in the long run.
So mark your calendars. It may be a little ways down the road, but the future continues to look bright.