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Fayetteville council sees final concepts for Cultural Arts Corridor

by Stacy Ryburn | January 30, 2019 at 1:08 a.m.
NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Fayetteville City Council members on Tuesday saw final concept drawings for the Cultural Arts Corridor, which would see the Walton Arts Center parking lot transformed into a civic space.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The table is set, so to speak, for the Cultural Arts Corridor design. Now it's a matter of what will be served.

City Council members on Tuesday saw the final conceptual drawings from the landscape architects behind the project, Nelson Byrd Woltz. Detailed design and construction document phases are anticipated to happen the rest of this year.

Money for the project would come from a nearly $31.7 million bond issue voters will consider April 9. That question will be one of 10 making up the entire $226 million bond referendum covering everything from transportation and trails to public safety, parks and economic development. Voters will be asked to continue the city's 1 percent sales tax to pay for the projects.


Fay Arts Corridor


The proposed Cultural Arts Corridor plan involves turning the parking lot west of the Walton Arts Center into a civic space and making the Fay Jones Parkland west of the Fayetteville Public Library a nature attraction. Prominent features and improvements also are planned along the Razorback Greenway and the streets within the corridor's boundary. The area basically covers both sides of West Avenue from Dickson Street south to Prairie Street.

Breck Gastinger with Nelson Byrd Woltz said the plan has many pieces, but the team kept in mind the overall point to make the corridor a flexible, vibrant, public urban space.

The civic space in particular will have a water course running through it, open event space and room for buildings on the northern and southern ends. Requests for proposals will go out for the buildings, and their construction won't be part of the bond issue.

"We've looked at the ways the civic space can function on a variety of levels," he said. "For many, it might be too easy to think of this space as a park. We've heard that term. We've tried not to use that term. We think this land is incredibly valuable and will perform a range of functions."

Restoration work is planned for Tanglewood Branch. Creek access with spots for pedestrians would sit at Gregg Avenue. Pedestrian plazas across West Avenue would connect the Walton Arts Center to the civic space and the library to the Fay Jones Parkland. A canopy walk would loop through the Fay Jones Parkland. Art would be peppered throughout the corridor, with room for performances, murals and exhibitions.

The city plans to form a committee to set up programming for the whole corridor, Chief of Staff Don Marr said. Partnerships with organizations and private entities will be key, he said.

Council member Matthew Petty said he's been trying to get something to happen in that part of downtown for about six years. He said the plan can't accomplish everyone's hopes and dreams, but most importantly, anyone will be able have meaningful experiences free of charge in an open public space.

"People deserve what we're trying to give them," Petty said.

About $10 million of the $31.7 million total would go toward establishing or building parking to replace the 290 spaces at the Walton Arts Center lot. About $11 million would be used to build the civic space, with $5.1 million for the parkland. Nearly $4 million would be used for features on West Avenue and another $1.5 million would be reserved for improvement and features along the Razorback Greenway.

Additionally, about $3 million planned for downtown walkability improvements as a separate bond project under the transportation question would be incorporated in the plan.

No work on the arts corridor will begin until replacement parking is established. Garver Engineering has been hired to do a site analysis and make recommendations on where the replacement parking would go.

The work on parking would happen next year, with work on the parkland starting in spring 2020. Construction on the civic space would begin in February 2021 and end in June 2022.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said development of the arts corridor will drive the city's economic engine and protect and sustain downtown's ecology.

"We will make the finest arts district not only in the region, but in the state and in the nation as well," he said.

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NW News on 01/30/2019

Print Headline: Council sees final concepts for arts corridor plan


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