Trail Boosts Springdale's Downtown Effort

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

Taldo said two unidentified local buyers will close in days on the purchase of the Apollo Theater on Emma. Taldo is even getting into the act, saying he was in the process of buying the Watson Furniture Store building at the corner of Main Street and Meadow Avenue.

Taldo said downtown Springdale has a pull on baby boomers like himself who remember Emma Avenue as the city’s only market area and hang-out spot.

“There is a lot of private money going in there,” Taldo said. “A lot of it is from Springdale people. They’re jumping on the bandwagon and reinvesting in downtown.”

Talk to officials and brokers in Springdale and they will say that downtown Springdale has been targeted before. Nothing has ever panned out in the attempt to bring people and business back to the area.

This time around, the feeling is different.

“One of the biggest things is with Tyson Foods — they’re going to bring some corporate employees downtown,” said Lance Eads, vice president of economic development for the Springdale Chamber of Commerce. “You’ll have the people and then I think you’ll see some other development follow that, whether it will be places to eat or a coffee shop or something like that. The argument has always been, do you do the development first or bring the people? If you get the people, then the development will follow.”

That’s where the Razorback Greenway is playing a vital role, officials said. The greenway, helped along by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation, gives Springdale an advantage not seen in the other main cities along its route because it goes through the heart of the city’s downtown.

Springdale also has Spring Creek running through downtown, and the city has made plans to “uncap” the stream. The creek was channeled through an underground culvert to control flooding and now travels under downtown, but the city envisions free-flowing water with a park setting alongside the greenway trailhead.

“That is why I’ve been telling people that Springdale’s downtown can probably be the best of all of them,” said Ed Clifford, the CEO of the Jones Center, a community and recreation center. “It has more basic elements than anybody else. It also has the railroad depot. It has the Jones Center, the Shiloh history museum and the Arts Center of the Ozarks.”

Clifford was the CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce and saw the work that went into that city’s downtown rejuvenation. He also is a board member of the Downtown Springdale Alliance, one of the leading forces in Springdale’s revitalization efforts.

Bentonville’s downtown success certainly influenced Springdale’s efforts, but Clifford said Springdale’s efforts have come together stronger and better. “It has come together a lot quicker than the Bentonville downtown did,” he said. “Now the leading companies have the same interest as the leading companies did in Bentonville.”

Taldo and Eads said the current effort appears more likely to see things through, unlike previous efforts. The long money is there, of course, and the city has mobilized, but the community has also responded enthusiastically.

 

 

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