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story.lead_photo.caption Tommy Pacello speaks Friday during the Placemakers Summit in the Meteor Guitar Gallery in Bentonville. Pacello spoke about “Lessons from the Field: 7 Ideas for City Building.” - Photo by NWA Democrat-Gazette / BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF

BENTONVILLE -- The big picture implementation for downtown plans is dependant on the ability to do small things, John Anderson, principal at Anderson Kim Architecture and Urban Design, said at the inaugural Placemakers Summit and Small Developer Bootcamp Friday.

Photo by BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF / NWA Democrat-Gazette
Mike Lydon speaks on Friday during the Placemakers Summit in the Meteor Guitar Gallery in Bentonville. Lydon spoke about “Tactical Urbanism: Short-Term Action for Long-Term Change.”

Cities should look to grow their small operators -- property managers, architects, engineers, etc. -- who will develop projects. Small operators working together take small risks and have a big impact, he said. There is also room to learn.

Big projects done by big developers is more vulnerable to shifts in the economy, where as the small operators model can "handle some rough seas if it needs to," he said. Also, small operator projects can give more of a sense of place rather than many standard big developments.

"The big builders are more like a factory, and the small operators are more like gardening," he said.

Anderson, also a co-founder and Real Estate Course Director of the Incremental Development Alliance, is one of 16 speakers at the summit and bootcamp, which started Friday and will conclude Sunday.

The Placemakers Summit was held Friday at the Meteor Guitar Gallery on West Central Avenue. The Small Developers Boot Camp will be today and Sunday morning at Tavola Trattoria on Southeast A Street.

The event, produced by Velocity Group and Incremental Development Alliance, brought together about 130 "placemakers" -- urban planners, developers, architects, bankers, investors, community activists and city leaders -- to discuss "place-based strategies that strengthen the fabric of their community, economy and unique sense of place," according to the event's website.

Attendees heard from planners from multiple area cities, urban planners, leaders from nonprofit groups focusing on downtown revitalization and other national experts.

The core principal of the weekend event is great places make stronger economies, said Daniel Hintz, owner of Velocity Group.

"Place-making is economic development," he said during a summit break. "Cities that don't tackle place as a form of economic development will be left behind."

The big question now that Northwest Arkansas' five largest cities -- Siloam Springs being the fifth -- have a downtown plan is how to move implementation forward, Hintz said.

"They're all going in the right direction," Anderson said. However, it's important the city's zoning code is updated to work with the plan, he added. "Plans are good road maps, but the mechanics of turn-by-turn are not so clear yet."

Houseal Lavigne Associates is in the process of updating the Bentonville codes for downtown development as part of developing a plan.

NW News on 04/23/2016

Print Headline: Summit focuses on community development

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