El Dorado Provides $9 Million For $50 Million Downtown Plan

The El Dorado City Council recently agreed to funnel $9 million into a $50 million downtown redevelopment project.

El Dorado Festivals & Events Inc., a nonprofit, oversees the project. Austin Barrow, its president, said the city’s contribution was “specifically going toward the creation of a new parking deck lot with a covered farmers’ market. We’re also looking at public restrooms and a police substation in the arts district.”

Proceeds from a 1 cent economic development sales tax are the source of the city’s $9 million, Barrow said.

About $25 million of the project is going toward renovation of the 1929 Rialto Theatre as a venue for the new Southern Theatre Festival. Barrow said the plan would also include administrative offices, a park and an outdoor arena theater.

“It’s a very large, big-scale plan,” he said.

The rest of the $50 million will be raised from partnerships, grants and corporate support. Construction is estimated to begin in January 2014, with a completion date by May 2015.

“We’ve got a couple of meetings scheduled for the next three to six months to see if we can go ahead and get the rest committed,” Barrow said. “Right now I’m feeling very positive about the process.”