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Markham designs presented to public

Posted: July 29, 2014 - 2:52pm

Consultants from Gateway Planning presented preliminary designs of their vision of the revitalization of Markham Street at an open house Monday night at the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce.

The chamber’s conference room was packed at 5 p.m. with community members viewing the designs, asking questions and writing down their suggestions.

The project received a $180,000 grant last year from MetroPlan’s Jump Start program which, combined with $50,000 from the city, has gone to fund a private and public partnership to create plans and conduct research studies. Design consultants from Gateway Planning have solicited public input at several turns before presenting designs.

The plans for Markham Street call for a more pedestrian-friendly area with bike lanes, on-street parking, sidewalks and street trees to make it more vibrant and bustling with people. The consultants looked at the city’s plan to turn the 1.5 acres purchased from Conway Scrap Metal into an amphitheater and suggested including other outdoor spaces for additional uses when the amphitheater is not in use.

Brad Lonberger of Gateway Planning, said of the amphitheater/park, “By making it into an amenity and improving the streets around it, it makes an attractive place to locate your business.”

He said to the north, planners would like to see more residential development with small units, large lot multi-units and some town homes.

“If you’re able to mix different housing units and types, you can create a variety of income levels and generations,” he said.

Wes Craiglow the city’s deputy director of development said of the presentation, “I think it’s fantastic. As far as a vision for the area and an illustrative feedback from the previous visioning sessions, I think they brought our community’s vision to life quite well. In general I think everyone’s supportive of the way the neighborhood’s going. I think everyone is in agreement that the area is under served and under utilized. They did a remarkable job. They listened well, and what they presented is an excellent manifestation of community input.”

He said the next step will be to encourage developers to consider a project on Markham Street.

“Fifteen years ago downtown was quiet and less productive. We’re going to be pushing that same sort of energy into that area,” he said.

Lori Melton was among those who attended the open house Monday night. She said, “I told them we need a convention center to bring people downtown. People love to come to Conway for events, but you’re limited to how many people you can get in a room. A downtown hotel/conference center would be great.”

Sandra Leyva, who owns The Locals coffee shop on Van Ronkle, just off Markham, said of the plans, “I really like it. I did the walkabout when they had the consultant come. The first thing he pointed out was there were no people walking around. I’m really impressed with the plans. I’m happy that walking and biking are going to be not just accepted but encouraged.”

Mayor Tab Townsell said the revitalization of Markham Street will “take the power and energy that’s happening in downtown and in The Village at Hendrix and tie them together.”

He said it will add value to the neighborhood, “just like the redevelopment of downtown has added value to those properties in downtown that haven’t yet been touched.”

He also predicted it will be an attractive place to live, with plenty of community amenities within walking distance and further from the railroad than current downtown housing.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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bekael
150
Points
bekael 07/29/14 - 06:11 pm
3
1
Still need a splashpad

I still think this would be an ideal place for a splashpad park........

AuxArc
39
Points
AuxArc 07/29/14 - 11:03 pm
2
0
Splashpad

How cool would that be? The kid in me loves that idea. I drove Markham Street tonight, and after seeing the plans yesterday, I think it would be a great way to connect Hendrix to downtown. It would be a great addition to the downtown area. I look forward to the development that may come to the area. It won't happen overnight, but it will definitely change the feel of Markham Street.

lachowsj
5738
Points
lachowsj 07/30/14 - 08:30 am
1
0
Very important suggestion

"The consultants looked at the city’s plan to turn the 1.5 acres purchased from Conway Scrap Metal into an amphitheater and suggested including other outdoor spaces for additional uses when the amphitheater is not in use."

A key to walkability is having a variety of activities and interests in a small, walkable area. The scrap metal site is a major asset if properly utilized; it is a barrier if it is underutilized. The park should have a variety of activities, big and small, happening on most days. This will draw people to the area and give the neighbors something of interest to see and walk past. I've suggested the possibility of a covered area for a farmer's market, food trucks and other similar activities that could rotate through. If Faulkner County goes wet, serving beer and wine in a confined area is another possibility.

Another key, as the article pointed out, is residential density. Nothing can make an area walkable if you don't have potential walkers. Developers should be encouraged by tax incentives to present suitable plans that go along with the overall scheme.

Developing this area is, it its own way, every bit as important as Central Landing or any of the other projects on the drawing board. I'm very excited to see what comes.

alipage72
1627
Points
alipage72 07/30/14 - 08:34 am
2
0
I third the motion

of a splash pad! I would be down there all the time with my grandson! As it stands I can't remember the last time I was downtown during the daytime outside of Toad Suck Daze.

conwaygerl
6617
Points
conwaygerl 07/30/14 - 01:34 pm
3
1
I agree

We should ban all doors from opening in the city limits!

Yeeee Hawwwwww!

conwaygerl
6617
Points
conwaygerl 07/30/14 - 02:02 pm
2
0
ah now

no, we use unscented window cleaner.
Thanks for your concern, you are very sweet.

lancejgosnell
521
Points
lancejgosnell 07/31/14 - 12:58 am
1
1
I would like to see parking

I would like to see parking decks incorporated into downtown somewhere, then close Markham off to vehicles with the exception of emergency vehicles, vendors for the businesses, taxi services & any future public transit.

Do this will allow for a the road to be used for cyclist without having "bike lanes"

I refer people to Madison, Wisconsin's State Street Model or we could go the Beale Street model and with serve alleys for vendors leaving only Emergency vehicles to be on the actual street.

c'mon man
1255
Points
c'mon man 07/31/14 - 07:47 am
2
1
From what I've heard

the cost of parking decks is prohibitive. I've been told that it's cheaper to buy land than actually build a parking deck (no, I don't have any hard facts, but that came from a knowledgeable source).

Also, why do the bicyclists get all the benefits? Couldn't they park their bikes down the street and walk down Markham? :)

Budnmud
22519
Points
Budnmud 07/31/14 - 12:55 pm
3
0
And

It would be "Hoveround" friendly as well - yeah

c'mon man
1255
Points
c'mon man 08/01/14 - 07:35 am
0
0
A little tongue and cheek

Yes...maybe the sarcasm was lost in my post.

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