The city of Little Rock on Monday opened the 500 block of Main Street — the first section of the Creative Corridor streetscape.
The environmentally friendly area features tree-lined boardwalks, rain gardens and other biodiverse vegetation. It is designed to become a downtown hub that can support both pedestrian activity and traffic.
According to Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola, the design for the area has won more than 10 national and international awards. He said the plan revolves around creativity, vitality and energy on the streets.
On Monday, an open house allowed visitors to tour the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Arkansas, Matt McLeod Fine Art and Cranford Co.
The development project began four years ago; its goal is to create an arts district within four blocks between President Clinton Avenue and 7th Street.
According to Ron Curry, region 6 administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the area will continue to grow and become sustainable as the project progresses.
"We are doing things that are good for the environment," Stodola said. "If the heart of the city is alive and thriving and doing well, the rest will be too."
Stodola estimates that more than $100 million in private and public investment is occurring or in the works to help make this vision a reality.
"The retail is never coming back to Main Street," said Stephen Luoni, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center. "We went into the street itself and said, 'What if the street was a place?' and now it is a productive, functioning landscape."