The location of the Riverdale Center in Little Rock has a nearly 70-year legacy of attracting retailing traffic, and moviegoers have been a target audience during much of that run.
The show began back in 1953 with the single-screen Riverside Drive-In. The viewing options doubled in 1962 with the expansion into the Razorback Twin Drive-In, recast in 1975 as the Big Red Twin Drive-In.
The projectors went dark when the property was developed into a retail strip center in 1983 alternately known as Razorback Square or Razorback Shopping Center.
Back then, a subsidiary of Batesville’s Independence Federal Savings Bank, was the owner. The property’s vacant bank building originally housed a branch of the now-defunct thrift.
The bulk of the shopping center site was leased from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, a 50-year agreement dating back to October 1980. The 17.6 acres were part of a gift to the diocese by W.D. Cammack’s Riverside Land Co. in September 1939.
In April 2019, Chris Robertson Sr.’s Kappa Realty LLC, which owned improvements to the property, purchased the land from the diocese for $8.3 million — paving the way for Xcited Riverdale to buy the entire project in May for $16.1 million.
Kmart once anchored the project in space that later housed Office Depot and now Ace Hardware. A Skaggs Alpha Beta grocery store was followed by Harvest Foods Extra and Walmart Neighborhood Market.
While a grocer has yet to restock the rent roll at the project, movies returned in 1999 with the opening of the Riverdale 10.
More: How developers are using food, drink and fun to refresh aging Little Rock commercial centers.