Trail Boosts Springdale's Downtown Effort

by Marty Cook  on Monday, Jun. 30, 2014 12:00 am  

The project to revitalize downtown Springdale brings back good memories for Philip Taldo.

Taldo, an agent with Weichert Realtors-The Griffin Co. of Springdale, remembers walking from Springdale High School after football practice to visit his father, Fredie, who worked at Watson Furniture Store on Main Street. He would go to Joyce’s Drugstore, where his uncle was a pharmacist, and have a cherry limeade at the soda fountain counter while he waited for his dad to finish work.

“They made them with fresh limes,” Taldo, 63, said. “That was a big deal back then. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

There is a sense of nostalgia in Springdale’s attempt to bring life back to its downtown, anchored by Emma Avenue. It’s more than simple nostalgia, though, as the city tries to rebuild its economic base.

The opening later this year of a Walmart Supercenter on the west end of town by Interstate 49 has stirred economic development interest there. Downtown Springdale is also seeing activity, not because of a Walmart but because of the Razorback Greenway.

The greenway, a 36-mile multiuse trail from Fayetteville to Bella Vista, will snake through downtown Springdale alongside Spring Creek. The trail stirred the city to action.

“Springdale is not unlike other cities,” Mayor Doug Sprouse said. “We’ve grown tremendously and a lot of attention shifted away from downtown. We’ve got an effort now that is going to take hold.”

Tyson, Walton Interest

The city’s master plan calls for about $20.5 million in improvements to coincide with the opening of the trail later this year. Not all the improvements will be done at once, and not all the activity is being pushed by the city.

Tyson Foods has bought properties along Emma Avenue and has told the city that the company will relocate one of its offices to downtown. Springdale Downtown LLC, led by members of the Walton family, bought the San Jose Manor building on Emma in mid-May.

Sprouse said the interest shown by Tyson and the Walton family has helped create momentum for the downtown project. He said he is unsure how many jobs Tyson plans to bring downtown, calling it a “fluid” situation.

It helps any effort, Sprouse said, when “you get the Walton family buying a whole block. They’re not stupid with their money.”



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