26 city blocks in Conway to be redeveloped

(KATV) A major corridor in Conway that is not being used to its full potential is being revived in the form of urban rebuilding.

The improvements are not going to happen overnight, but it has been on the city's wish list for more than five years.

Wes Craiglow is the City Deputy Director of Development. He says, "I wouldn't expect a large shopping center to be announced here anytime soon. It is going to be block by block. We will have to overcome challenges presented and then take advantage of every opportunity that comes up."

Markham Street is 26 blocks long. It connects downtown and Harkrider. Craiglow says, "In downtown, over the last 10 years there has been about 68 million dollars worth of new private investment. Up at Hendrix College, there is 100 million dollars worth of reinvestment underway. So we like to think that these 26 blocks is wedged between two fantastic centers of gravity."

It will be a mixed use neighborhood, similar to the streets it connects. The vision is to have sidewalks and bike lanes. They are planning for two to four story structures for offices, restaurants, businesses and apartments. Craiglow says houses will be available in a range of prices.

He points, "It can be Shakespeare in the park, Conway Symphony Orchestra." The Conway City Council has approved $315,000 to purchase the property Conway Scrap Metals is currently at. The business will be moving to another location.

The plan is to build a park and amphitheater. The land deeps in the center like a bowl, so it will also serve as storm water retention to improve the flooding issue downstream.

It will also serve as storm water retention to improve the flooding issue downstream.

Wes Craiglow says this is the future. "I think as municipal governments take stock of how much money it cost to sprawl, new services, new roads, school district expansion, the tax base can only afford to grow out so fast." He continues, "In a community such as this, where the streets already exist, police, fire, sanitation services, water and electric are already here, it is much more efficient use of everyone's dollar."

Starting in December, they will kick of 15 months of planning. Craiglow says public input will guide the process.

Other than the $315,000 for the property Conway Scrap Metals is on, the city is using $50,000 for the general fund to match a $180,000 Metroplan grant. The grant is for planning.{}