Bentonville: Main Street Story is Like a Fairy Tale (Main Street Preservation (Over 20K) | Winner)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011 12:00 am  

Downtown Bentonville

Kerr said the city “aggressively prepared” for the new museum and the anticipated opened floodgates of visitors, new businesses and residential growth.

Over the past two years, the city invested more than $4 million in downtown streetscape enhancements, parking lots, landscaping, renovations, new construction projects and new parks. Most of these projects are part of the Downtown by Design Master Plan (available at

Streetscape enhancements included $1 million worth of brick sidewalks, street lighting, landscaping and street overlay to Northeast Second Street, which forms the northwest boundary of the square. Similar enhancement – plus utility relocations – is under way on East Central Avenue, the main thoroughfare into downtown from Interstate 540, with more streetscape enhancements planned downtown.

In addition, the city built two new parking lots ($650,000), one each on the northwest and southeast sides of the square. The lots provide a total of 209 parking spaces. The Bentonville Parks & Recreation Department and the Bentonville Garden Club teamed to improve landscaping around the square, including planting trees and tulips around the fountain.

Other notable projects include the renovation of City Hall, inside and out, at a cost of $191,000; the $1.55 million construction of Lawrence Plaza, a project of the Bentonville Convention & Visitors Bureau and the city parks department; the ongoing construction of the Downtown Activity Center and parks department building ($1.3 million), and the renovation of an 1841 school house, which now serves as home to the Benton County Historical Society.

Bentonville is adding sophistication but not letting go of its small-town charm. Its downtown square has been compared to a movie setting depicting an idyllic American lifestyle. Kerr appreciates the merging dynamics.

“A town of 35,000 will have one of the nation’s most incredible art museums, a corporate museum of the world’s largest retailer and one of the world’s most unique hotel experiences,” she said. “Wrap this into a dynamic and vibrant downtown filled with entrepreneurs, small businesses, great restaurants, retail stores, exciting public events and growing private investment, and we have achieved our vision of becoming the ‘community center of choice.’”



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