For Pastor Mark DeYmaz and the Mosaic Church, the food truck court on the corner of South University Avenue and Colonel Glenn Road was always more than just a gathering place for food vendors; it was always meant as a gathering place for a community. In the short time that the University Market at 4Corners has been open, developing that sense of community has been slow but steady with the addition of new trucks, the development of a loyal following on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and by good old-fashioned word of mouth from the people who work and go to school in the University District.
On May 1, the University Market took a large step in realizing the dream of becoming a place where people from the neighborhood could gather together to eat and fellowship when the city granted permission to install tables and chairs in the former K-Mart parking lot that has become home to many of Little Rock's food trucks. With this new development, the Market can transition from being a place where people merely pass through to get their food and leave for elsewhere to a place where people can enjoy a meal in the open air, fostering a sense of community through one of our oldest activities: sharing a meal. As sign of bigger and better things to come, the first banners advertising the Market were put up just this week, a symbolic gesture that signals Mosaic's commitment to urban renewal in South Little Rock.
Future plans for the University Market area include access to electricity for the trucks so that noise from the generators now being used for power can be eliminated, the creation of more green space in what is now a seemingly endless expanse of asphalt and a continued effort to turn the former K-Mart building into a home for both the Mosaic Church and office space for non-profit organizations. I've been inspired by the dedication and resilience of the folks behind the University Market, and if the grassroots urban renewal along South Main Street has taught us anything, it's that sometimes, all it takes is the dedication of people who live and work in a neighborhood to make a difference — and in the case of the Market, to get something good to eat while you're at it.