TSW Presents Master Plan for Downtown N. Little Rock

After TSW presented the final draft of a new Master Plan for Argenta, Little Rock’s news media took notice.

TV Coverage

First North Little Rock, Arkansas, local news station THV Little Rock aired a report on the future of the area. The report included an interviw with TSW Principal Caleb Racicot.


Newspaper coverage:

The North Little Rock Times also covered the story:

Crowd hears Argenta Master Plan discussed

By Jeremy Peppas
North Little Rock Times
Thursday, May 13, 2010

The plan is ambitious, the scope is vast and it has a price tag to match.

Everything but the price tag was covered Wednesday morning when the Argenta District Master Plan was unveiled in a community meeting at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Tunnell, Spangler and Walsh, an urban planning firm out of Atlanta, prepared the plan that could cost a total of up to $330 million if all the private development along with new public-use facilities and improvements were implemented.

Tom Walsh, of the firm, was among those who made the presentation to the roughly 150 people on hand. The plan was paid for by a partnership between North Little Rock, the Argenta Community Development Corp., and The Mill LLC, a development firm fronted by John Gaudin.

Walsh cautioned not everything in downtown would happen overnight and he used Decatur, Ga., as an example.

There, he said, a plan was developed some 10 years ago, and what they envisioned was now “88 percent” complete.

Walsh said that it was a remarkable achievement.

In North Little Rock, the plan has a total of 1,400 new residential units that would be built with the estimated cost of $210 million. That would all be covered, mostly, by private development. They would include apartments, condos and single-family detached homes.

Walsh said it would add around 3,000 new residents to downtown, once all were completed, pushing downtown’s population up considerably.

Public facilities could cost up to $120 million and downtown would see some significant improvements as a result.

Among them would be a new school, new fire and police stations, a public health facility, new streets and, most expensively, a multi-modal transportation hub that would include the Central Arkansas Transit Authority trolley barn and, eventually, the station for a proposed high-speed rail line that would connect central Arkansas to Memphis.

The facility could cost up to $65 million and the trolley barn, currently being expanded, would be converted to commercial use.

Caleb Racicot, with the firm, said some of that money for public improvements would come from federal grants.

Most federal money for transportation improvements comes with an 80/20 split, with the local government tagged with a fifth of the project’s cost.

He also said under President Obama’s administration, cities that had plans, like Argenta’s, would be viewed more favorably to receive federal funding. Much like street improvements that were considered “shovel ready” were bumped to the front of the line last year when stimulus funds became available and, he said, another round of funding was expected later this year or early next.

Of course, not all the projects in the plan came with expensive price tags. Adding bike parking at different locations downtown would cost $1,000.

Racicot said it was interesting that with a city to have made such an investment in bike trails to not have plentiful bike parking.

Walsh said the next step was that his firm would take comments from the public until June 4 and then those would be reviewed.