FAYETTEVILLE -- Residents took a gander Thursday at the conceptual designs for a cultural arts corridor downtown.
The public session held at the Town Center was one of two this week. The Walton Arts Center Council also viewed a presentation on the plans, and the City Council on Tuesday discussed the $226 million bond package the arts corridor would be a part of.
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About $30 million would be dedicated to building the corridor, if voters approve it. Each bond issue will appear as a separate ballot measure. A special election is tentatively scheduled for April 9.
A channel would bisect a civic space planned southwest of West Avenue and Dickson Street. A large lawn in the center would serve as a gathering space for events, with smaller gathering spaces plotted throughout. Trees would cover a large portion of the site, and a contiguous pathway would flow into the trail.
Two buildings included in the design -- a one-story cafe and gallery space at the northern tip of the site and a multistory mixed use building at the southern end -- wouldn't be paid for through the bond issue for the corridor, said Breck Gastinger with Nelson Byrd Woltz, the lead landscape architects on the design team. Those projects would have to come from a public-private partnership later down the line.
The city owns the lot in front of the Walton Arts Center. It has about 290 spaces.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan has committed to replacing the lost spaces in other spots downtown, and a portion of the bond money will go toward that endeavor. He also has said no construction work on the Walton Arts Center lot would begin until the replacement parking is established.
Possible locations include the northwest corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue; where Nadine Baum Studios sits near Spring Street and West Avenue; east of the Spring Street Parking Deck; and on Gregg Avenue west of the trail.
Carson Leavitt, who said he has lived off and on in Fayetteville for about six years, said he usually parks in farther-off spots and walks when he goes downtown. Those spaces are usually free, he said. Plus, he likes the fresh air when walking around.
Leavitt said he appreciated how the gathering spots of different sizes interacted with one another in the plan. The water elements bring in some cohesion from other areas in Northwest Arkansas, he said.
"It's definitely ahead of anything else I've seen around," Leavitt said.
Another significant piece making up the arts corridor would be canopy walks and other low-impact features at the Fay Jones Parkland just east of the Fayetteville Public Library.
The rapid development and population growth the city has experienced over the last few years has led to a more trees getting cut down, said Emily Sledge, who was there with her husband, James.
"I like the sustainability effort with the watershed and the connectivity I think it brings to our downtown area," she said.
The two usually take an Uber to get downtown, and said replacing the parking spaces with the features of the arts corridor didn't bother them.
Public input during Thursday's session contrasted with comments the City Council heard during its meeting Tuesday.
Carl Collier, owner of Collier Drug Store on Dickson Street, implored the council to include putting in replacement parking before the Walton Arts Center lot is touched into the language of the bond ordinance. Work on the other parts of the arts corridor could begin, such as the Fay Jones Parkland, but those 290 spaces are needed to sustain the surrounding businesses, he said.
The parking crunch will compound once the arts corridor is built because more people will be attracted downtown, Collier said.
"We're going to end up needing 500 spaces," he said.
Brian Crowne, owner of George's Majestic Lounge, told the council he looks forward to supporting the entire bond package in order to keep the city relevant with a growing population. However, parking replacement is critical, he said.
"If we can tighten up that language, I look forward as a business owner in Fayetteville and member of the Dickson Street Merchants Association to support it," Crowne said.
The City Council plans to hold a discussion of the bond package Tuesday. It will take the ordinance up for a second reading during its meeting a week after that.
The council also will consider then a contract with Garver Engineering to do a site study on where best to put the replacement parking.
NW News on 12/07/2018
Print Headline: Public helps shape arts corridor design