Friday, July 6, 2007

Delightful Downtown Developments

Ignore the Chamber of Commerce siren song's Call for Sprawl and the joys of five lanes of asphalt with a suicide lane. Instead celebrate the sensible development going on in downtown Fayetteville and be thankful that it doesn't require additional tax dollars for new roads, water and sewer lines, or fire stations. The new Renaissance Marriott and the refurbished Cosmopolitan hotels will be joined by a new restaurant in the Old Post Office, one in the remodeled E.J. Ball Building, and another on the street level of the Bank of America condo project. Smart growth.

Not everything in Rogers is about Ronnie Floyd's self-aggrandizing tabernacle and the Pinnacle Promenade, an equally lavish commercial bazaar. This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Applegate Building in downtown Rogers, and it is enjoying a new life as Poor Richard's Art, the consignment shop for local artists owned and operated by Clarice Moore and Mary Schopp. Not too far away,
Moe Torabi has rehabilitated the old Rogers Vinegar plant for an eclectic collection of shops now called Traders Market, but it still serves as a reminder that in 1901 Benton County produced more apples than any other county in the nation, and over 300 varieties, too.

In Springdale, there is more to the city's soul than West Sunset and the Supercenter. Plans have been announced by the Shiloh Museum to restore the 1871 Shiloh Meeting Hall, the oldest building in downtown Springdale, to its 19th century design under the direction of
Clements & Associates Architecture. A $69,448 grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage will pay for repairs to the exterior of the building, but it will become an active facility for the museum, not just a monument to the quaint past. Adaptive reuse at its best and much better than those metal buildings on the bypass.

John Lewis always stressed the preservation and transmission of our heritage. Downtown development can do that better than almost anything, and it builds the tax base without the additional drain on taxes for building out infrastructure. These developments are a fitting tribute to the vision that John Lewis shared with us--and a refutation of the modern Babbitts at the Chamber.

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