Two architects unveiled the city of Little Rock's master plan for a cultural corridor on Main Street last week. The city used a $150,000 Our Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to hire Marlon Blackwell, private architect and department head of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas, and Steve Luoni, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center, to create the plan.
Their vision for the 300 block to 600 block of Main Street that they call "The Creative Corridor: A Main Street Revitalization" was vivid and grandiose, full of all the sorts of things New Urbanists salivate over — a pedestrian promenade, rain gardens, street furniture, LED lighting installations. If it were realized, they said, Little Rock would be a beacon for urban design the world over (Mayor Mark Stodola, in his introduction, said the plan was one of only two master plans to be shortlisted in an international master plan contest). But, as the mayor acknowledged, whether it's implemented or not is largely up to private dollars. Main Street is currently undergoing about $60 million in development, the mayor noted. To see a PDF of a planned book detailing the master plan, visit arktimes.com/creativecorridor.