Downtown partnership seeking public input

After completing some major goals, the Conway Downtown Partnership is asking the public for input about what projects should be next.

“It’s been almost five years since we did the Conway 2025 Vision for Conway. Many of the things we said we were going to start working on were addressed, but we still have some things to go,” said Kim Williams, director of the downtown partnership. “If you look at the buildings and sidewalks as the hardware, we’re looking for the software. What attractions do they (the public) want to see?”

A survey is available at www.facebook.com/DowntownConway for anyone who would like to share their opinions with the downtown partnership. Participants have a chance to win a gift certificate to ZaZa’s, Statements, Pasta Grill, The Sporty Runner or Grand on Oak.

Williams said the improved entrance to downtown was called for in the Conway 2025 Vision, and that has been created with the new arch on Oak Street and Rogers Plaza.

She added, “Downtown leads Arkansas in the number of restored buildings. Since 2001 we’ve had over 25 buildings renovated. We have a great variety. We have over 40 shops. We’ve got things that go on during the day, we’ve got live music at JJ’s, King’s and sometimes at The Locals and The Lantern Theater.”

She said the abundance of public art downtown, from murals to sculptures to the period street lamps, are important to the downtown experience.

“It softens the built environment. It makes you stop and appreciate where you are. It makes it more of an adventure — what’s around the next corner? Downtown is for the human scale.”

While the survey is still awaiting more responses, Williams said, “From the initial results, parking is on the top of most people’s minds. We are looking into parking solutions, as well as many other quality of place solutions.”

She continued, “Parking can be challenging downtown. When I go downtown to shop or for lunch, it may take one pass around the block until I find a parking place that is just as close as if you’re parking at any restaurant on the strip — same number of steps. Plus, you get to see a beautiful streetscape on the way.”

In addition to working on perceived parking issues, Williams said, the downtown partnership is working on utility infrastructure and addressing more living stock in downtown.

“Drainage issues have been greatly improved with the creation of Rogers Plaza and will continue (to improve) with the Markham Street redevelopment and scrap yard revitalization,” she said.

Williams further noted that the revival of downtown was the catalyst for other major economic developments in Conway such as The Village at Hendrix, the Hewlett-Packard facility and the Southwestern Energy building.

She shared some statistics about downtown Conway. The area has 1,259 public and shared parking spaces; 4,890 jobs within one mile; 87 private parking lots; 11 major employers within one mile; 85,000 square feet of office and retail space renovated in the past two years; and 20 restaurants.

(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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