John Owens has seen firsthand the rapid development of Rockwater Village in North Little Rock.
About two years ago, Owens, the president and CEO of the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, moved into one of the first houses built in the Rockwater Village neighborhood called the Residences at Rockwater, which is west of Pike Avenue and overlooks the Arkansas River.
“The progress has really accelerated over the … past two years, and we have welcomed a lot of new neighbors to the area,” said Lisa Ferrell, CEO of North Bluffs Development Corp. of Little Rock, who is developing the Rockwater Village with her husband and business partner, Jim Jackson.
The third phase of the development is expected to start this summer, she said.
The newest development in the village, the Gardens at Rockwater, has about 50 lots and will feature homes starting at around $350,000. Ferrell said people already have expressed interest in three of the lots.
Construction of the homes in the first development, the Residences at Rockwater, started in 2015, after a 66-slip marina was built. The location has proved to be popular, with 37 of the 39 lots having been sold, Ferrell said.
Prices for the homes, which have a traditional Southern look, range between $450,000 and $1.6 million, she said.
The second phase of the development is the Porches at Rockwater, which is at the northwest corner of Parker Street and Rockwater Boulevard.
Construction in that 15-lot residential development started in 2017, and seven lots remain. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes cost about $270,000.
Ferrell said Rockwater Village is popular because of its location. It’s on the Arkansas River, has its own marina and is part of the Arkansas River Trail. It also has a “traditional neighborhood feel,” Ferrell said.
Rockwater is also close to downtown amenities such as restaurants, offices, the arts and Dickey-Stephens Park, the home of Arkansas Travelers Double-A Texas League baseball team.
The $33 million stadium, which holds about 10,000 people, opened in 2007, and has helped the downtown area grow, Owens said.
“The influx of people that it’s bringing … is just really a positive for our community,” he said.
Paul Allen, general manager for the Travelers, said if it weren’t for Dickey-Stephens Park, central Arkansas wouldn’t have a minor league baseball team.
Through the 2000 season, the Travelers had been a St. Louis Cardinals affiliate for 35 years and played their games at Ray Winder Field in Little Rock, which was “old and falling apart,” Allen said.
“Part of the reason the Cardinals left was because they wanted a newer facility and at that time the community wasn’t ready to invest in it,” he said.
But in 2005, North Little Rock residents agreed to help pay for the stadium in the form of a two-year 1% sales tax.
And the park has been a hit with baseball fans. In addition to the Travelers’ games, some of the bigger events at the ballpark included a concert by the Dave Matthews Band in 2009 and the Texas League All-Star Game in 2014.
A popular attraction is the fireworks show called Pyro in the Park, which started in 2016 and is held on the last Friday home game of the season. “That is the largest in-house crowd that we have,” Allen said.
Owens also enjoys the event, but from outside the ballpark. He goes out his front door and gets in his boat, which is at the Rockwater Marina.
“I love to get out and take a cruise with friends at sundown and let them see the bridges all lit up,” he said. “And the fireworks, when they’re going off at Dickey-Stephens, are pretty amazing from the river.”