by Max Brantley
Readers ask questions. Now and then, I try to answer them.
Recently, a reader asked if the Park Avenue shopping center — with an open Target, a coming Staples and a free-standing Cheddar's chain restaurant and AT&T store under construction — was to be any more than this. The image above shows Strode Develpment's dreamy depiction of the property as a development with retail, entertainment, offices and residential components. It was sold as having a "Main Street feel."
I put the question to City Director Stacy Hurst, who's spent years working on Midtown redevelopment, a long road full of planning studies, debate and even one critical lawsuit that protected Park Plaza from flight of key merchants to a new shopping center farther west. Her response:
Right now it looks like a typical "power center" which is not what we originally envisioned. [Little Rock planning director] Tony Bozynski assures me that the mixed-use component — several floors of multi-family on top of a first floor of retail/office — is still going to happen. Strode Development told planning that plans for that phase would be submitted for review in late September. My hope is that when that is built, it will be closer to the urban village model.