Chris Crain thinks Conway has the chance to have one of the premier downtowns in the mid-south. As a business owner, he’s called Conway home for 25 years and has seen the progress made and what could lie ahead.
“It is the heart and soul of our city,” he said. “I’ve watched the evolution of our downtown into a progressive and vibrant community filled with local shops, restaurants, entertainment venues, seasonal events, and much more.”
It’s the reason he started investing in downtown Conway as a property owner. We asked Chris what he wants to accomplish downtown and why a thriving downtown district is important to the entire city.
What's your favorite thing about downtown Conway?
My favorite thing about Conway is the hustle and bustle. There is an energy that has been created through public and private investments. To me, it’s some of the little things that make the difference. The signage at the entrance to Historic Downtown Conway along with the improved lighting, flowers, and beautiful landscaping of Rogers Plaza really set the tone. I love all of the murals painted by local artists on many of the buildings as well. It’s very welcoming and attractive to people that want to open a business or simply walk the streets and enjoy the day.
As a property owner, what do you see as one or two things most important to the future of the area in the next 5 years?
I have recently purchased several properties that will house office space, retail space and an event center. We are excited about the addition of the Markham Square Park that is located in close proximity to our new accessory shop, retail space, and event center. With this beautiful development, there is a play area for the kids, outdoor games, picnic area, performance space and water discovery area surrounded by stone benches and landscaping. We think this Markham District area will extend and enhance downtown Conway for business owners and visitors.
What's an amenity or feature that could take downtown Conway to the next level?
I believe that this beautiful Markham Square Park area will really spur a new area of development. There are plans within the Markham Street District that include new urban living spaces, coupled with office space and exciting retail venues. I believe other private developers will start to see this area and its potential soon. I have faith in the people creating the vision for downtown Conway, and I can’t wait to see the next area of opportunities.
What is the benefit to the entire city when downtown is thriving?
Everyone wants to be a part of a community that enhances our daily lives and proudly preserves its history. When there are unique and interesting retail stores, restaurants that people rave about, and beautiful spaces, excited people are pouring into our economy and moving to our expanding neighborhoods. A thriving downtown Conway sends a message that this city is different and is something you want to be a part of.
What are some projects you are working on and when can we expect to see them?
We are completely remodeling the properties that we have purchased at the intersection of Markham and Spencer. These two buildings total 8,000 square feet and will house our Motorsports Authority accessory business that we are expanding and relocating. Local architect Brandon Ruhl has designed the space beautifully to capture the look and feel of the Historical District and future direction of Markham Square Park. Our target open date for this business is April of 2022.
We are open and booking events now at Conway’s Perfect Place. This event venue has a capacity of 200 and is an affordable option for a shower, wedding, reception, or corporate event. We continue to make improvements and have more plans for the future.
I have contracted to purchase another approximately 15,000-square-foot office building in downtown Conway that I intend to consolidate as my central office for all of my ventures through Chris Crain Enterprises. I hope we will be able to announce those details this year.