by Max Brantley
All I know is what this newsletter from Sharon Priest at the Downtown Little Rock Partnership says, but that move of the Social Security office from the federal building on Capitol Avenue downtown to a new building out west apparently has been put on hold. Politics intervened. The plan had been for a private contractor to build a new building by the end of this year at Executive Center Drive and Bowman Road.
Senator Mark Pryor's office called me this morning to let me know that the proposed move of the Social Security building from downtown has been put on an indefinite hold. Judge Buddy Villines, Mayor Mark Stodola, and I worked with our Congressional delegation on this issue. We appreciate their help.
Many issues were involved including the lack of public transportation, the effect on downtown of losing many federal employees who contribute to the vitality of downtown, and other macro issues such as the cost/benefit of federally owned versus build-to-suit buildings. We will continue to work with our local Social Security Administration to resolve issues such as handicap parking and accessibility.
The Social Security administration had complained about parking and other issues downtown and said the western location was more central to the area served -- parts of Pulaski and Saline counties. About 1,100 people go to the office each week, or about 200 per day. Federal rules, however, encourage development in downtown core neighborhoods.
Lots of parking on Main Street. Maybe they could run a CAT shuttle bus over to the federal building.