Metro Little Rock's Commercial & Infrastructure Developments Not Slowing Down
Proactive leadership, a dynamic economy and continual investment make up the dream team in Metro Little Rock. Here are the recent developments that confirm what everyone who calls the region home is already thinking: Life is getting better and better.
A Revitalized Urban Core
Argenta Innovation Center: Featuring co-working and hands-on technology education spaces and the first phase of the planned Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub, this 17,000-SF center gives entrepreneurs a place to nurture ideas and create new companies around technology and engineering, complete with a schedule full of workshops, classes and events.
South Main (SoMa): Main Street’s south side (with Interstate 630 as the dividing line) is an up-and-coming area of Little Rock. Attractions like the beautiful Bernice Garden and its well-attended farmers market, the Esse Purse Museum and locavore-friendly hot spots like The Root Café, The Green Corner Store, Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom and nationally acclaimed South on Main have brought the area new life, and the locals can’t get enough.
Little Rock Technology Park: Steady progress has been made by Little Rock city leadership to build a 3-acre office park where researchers and other businesses could collaborate in a campus-like environment, serving as a development flagship for the region. After having initial difficulty finding a home for the park, recent plans include siting it in the heart of downtown Little Rock along Main and Scott streets. Once complete, the city estimates the park could employ 2,500 and generate $262 million per year.
Creative Corridor: In 2012, Little Rock leadership unveiled a plan to transform four blocks of Main Street into a neighborhood dubbed the Creative Corridor. Slated to bring residential and retail space together with a focus on the arts, the plan to make it a reality is well underway. So far, businesses and nonprofits with plans to move in include Ballet Arkansas and the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra. Some businesses that already call the corridor home are Little Rock ad Firm CJRW, the video production house M-3 Productions, Samantha’s Tap Room & Wood Grill and Soul Fish Cafe.
Big Rock Interchange: On a daily basis, nearly 200,000 vehicles pass through the intersection of Little Rock’s east-west thoroughfare I-630 and its north-south complement I-430. Dubbed the Big Rock Interchange because of the surprise discovery of a large rock formation during construction, the nearly $150 million project was recently completed in summer 2015.
Bill & Hillary Clinton National Airport: In addition to a recent facelift, a new $20.6 million concourse renovation is the works. Currently finalizing architectural plans, the update will include new gate seating, upgraded Wi-Fi capabilities, as well as new information monitors.
Bridges Alight: Thanks to a $2 million grant from Entergy Inc. and city contributions, the Junction, Clinton Presidential Center, Main Street and Two Rivers bridges spanning Little Rock-North Little Rock are decked out in multicolored LEDs, which change regularly to fit holidays and local celebrations.
Broadway Bridge: Dedicated in 1923, $80 million has been allocated for the replacement of the Broadway Bridge connecting Little Rock to North Little Rock across the Arkansas River. The bridge was closed in September 2016 with construction of the new bridge expected to last six months.
Around the Metro
New Hospital for Conway: Baptist Health will open a new 111-bed hospital in Conway this fall. The facility will boast eight operating rooms and a Level III trauma-center emergency room. It will employ 425 people.
Robinson Center: Home to performances for 76 years, the Robinson Center closed in the summer of 2014 for $68 million worth of renovations. In the works are upgrades to acoustics and technology, a new lobby and an awesome grand ballroom. The performing arts venue is on schedule to reopen in November 2016.
The Little Rock Rangers Soccer Club finished their inaugural season in 2016 as part of the National Premier Soccer League with games at historic War Memorial Stadium, in the heart of the city. Next up will be an expansion to include a women’s side. The women’s team will kick off in spring of 2017 and will be a part of the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
ATA International is in the process of building its international headquarters in Little Rock. The 43,000-square-foot world headquarters will be located on a 3-acre site at 1800 Riverfront Drive. It will feature training facilities and a museum of ATA history and the story of Eternal Grand Master H.U. Lee, who founded the organization in 1969 and relocated its headquarters to Little Rock in 1977. ATA is formerly the American Taekwondo Association.
Benton Event Center and Shopping Hub: The city’s brand-new, $7 million event center opened in 2013 and is quite stunning. And Hurricane Creek Village, a new 250,000-square-foot shopping center, is expected to bring more than 900 jobs to the Little Rock suburb.
Smart Moves: The world of education in Metro Little Rock is looking pretty good these days. North Little Rock High School recently completed facilities for the 2015-16 school year, including a brand new stadium and track, and will continue to complete projects throughout the year. The modern environment encourages project and group learning, and boasts a new culinary lab, commons area, cafeteria, auditorium, broadcast journalism program amenities and more.
Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library: Part of the Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), this $12 million, 30,000-SF library is a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors. It opened in 2013 with much more than just books: Patrons can check out iPads and laptops or play around in the theater or teaching kitchen.
The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and eStem Public Charter Schools of Little Rock (currently located downtown) recently announced a partnership that will relocate eStem's high school to the UALR campus. Set to open in July 2017, the move includes a new 60,000-SF building for grades 9 and 10, with the 11 and 12 grades taking over UALR’s Larson Hall.