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Downtown Is Where It’s At (Editorial)

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When you’re alone and life is making you lonely

“You can always go Downtown.” — From “Downtown,” the 1964 song most memorably sung by Petula Clark.

This week’s issue of Arkansas Business illustrates the continued attraction of vibrant downtowns to real estate developers, including those specializing in office space.

The work-from-home movement is not going away, as Alan Cole, the subject of our Executive Q&A, makes clear, and how office space is used, and how often, “has forever changed.” 

Marshall Saviers, CEO of Cushman & Wakefield/Sage Partners, told Assistant Editor Marty Cook, who wrote about several big projects in and around downtown Bentonville, that offices have to offer amenities a worker wants to leave the house for, and a downtown environment is appealing to many employees. “People want to be around other people, right? So make it a fun, collaborative environment for them,” Saviers said.

Meanwhile, North Little Rock’s downtown continues to evolve and grow, with the demolition of the Greyhound bus depot making way for a new five-story hotel and the development of what’s envisioned as mixed-use space west of Simmons Bank Arena.

In Little Rock, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, formerly the Arkansas Arts Center, on Wednesday announced that, after a multimillion-dollar renovation and redesign, it will reopen April 22, 2023. The reopening of the museum, located in MacArthur Park, after having been closed since 2019 will certainly boost visitors to the capital city’s downtown.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought permanent changes in business and the economy, it could not fundamentally change human nature. People need to see and interact with other people, and that’s a good thing for business and for society. And for downtowns. 

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