Conway: Downtown Facelift Lifts Community Pride (Main Street Preservation | Winner 20,000+)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 12:00 am  

On Front Street, between Main and Oak streets, the developed streetscape includes period lighting, brick pavers, planters and landscaping. The overhead utilities were buried and the drainage was improved.

“To date, approximately $1.2 million in streetscape improvements have been completed throughout downtown,” Williams said. Conway recently added improvements to Main Street.

In 2005, Mike’s Place opened in downtown Conway and was one of the few Conway restaurants allowed to sell alcohol in dry Faulkner County.

The restaurant “was the spark that has been a major catalyst in attracting more” restaurants, Williams said. “The success of the $2.5 million, 9,000-SF hot spot was the CDP’s first step in creating a bustling, 24-7 downtown.”

In addition to adding businesses, buildings were renovated.

The CDP bought a vacant building at Oak and Chestnut streets that a fire destroyed in 2003. The Conway retailer Em Jeans-Express Male bought the property and built a $1.2 million flagship store there in 2007.

The former Steel Chevrolet building at Main and Court streets was renovated for $2.7 million in 2008. The 15,000-SF building “brought the building back to its original warehouse style,” Williams said.The building is now home to JJ’s Grill of Conway and the pizza restaurant, Old Chicago.

The Plunkett-Jarrell building renovation took place in 2008 and is now the home of oneChurch and Central Arkansas Baton Twirling Studio.

The city of Conway jumped into the renovation action and in 2009 developed a 29,000-SF police headquarters.

To boost more development, downtown Conway was designated a Commercial Historic District in 2010. That means property owners could be eligible to receive Arkansas historic tax credits for their renovations.

Also in the works is a pedestrian and bicycle friends promenade that will connect downtown to Conway High School and Conway Regional Health System, Williams said.

“The future is very bright for downtown Conway,” she said.

The moves have cultivated a sense of pride for Conway residents.

“What I always hear from residents regarding our downtown is that we have a beautiful and vibrant downtown,” Williams said.

“When they visit other towns, it makes them so proud because they know our downtown has been preserved and is flourishing while so many have declined, or are nonexistent.”



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