Since its inception in 2001, the Conway Downtown Partnership has been responsible for fostering millions of dollars in private and public investments in downtown Conway.
Private Investment: A New Take on “Growth”
Can something grow without getting bigger? Downtown Conway has had roughly the same boundaries for generations: a historic neighborhood to the west, Hendrix College and St. Joseph to the north and south. It is a walkable and cozy scale that has stood the test of time.
But make no mistake – there has been serious growth in our downtown. In 2012 and 2013, more than 85,000 square feet of office and retail space was renovated. We have seen previously underused or vacant space fill up with regionally prominent retailers on Oak Street. Second-generation office space on Main Street is now home to nationally known businesses with growing payrolls. And the number of buildings being redeveloped because of state and federal historic tax credits is growing, too.
- Mike’s Place (2006)
- EM Jeans Building (2007)
- Halter Building Renovation (2007)
- Ferguson Building (2007)
- Hendrix College Townhouses (2008)
- 920 Locust Rik Sowell Building (2008)
- Steele Building Renovation (2008)
- Plunkett-Jarrell building on Front Street (2008)
- Satterfield Station (2009)
- Conway Police Station (2009)
- Federal Building Plaza (2011)
- Smith Ford Building (2012)
- Phillips-Gwin Store (2012-2013)
- Conway Bottling Works Building (2012-2013)
- Moll Cafe' Building (2013)
- Matchett's Barber Shop Building (2013-2014)
If you have to point out just one example of old-fashioned, new-construction growth, look no further than the development of The Village at Hendrix. While done in a traditional way, the Village has grown Conway’s housing, office, retail, and restaurant real-estate options.
Downtown Conway challenges a lot of the conventional thinking about growth. It has managed to grow up without growing old.
Public Investment: The Public Promise
Downtowns are unique by design. Without healthy and attractive public infrastructure, private developments cannot succeed in a downtown setting. Whether it is an amenity like a park, an aesthetic detail like hanging baskets, or critical systems like utilities and drainage, downtowns demand quality infrastructure.
Since its founding in 2001, Conway Downtown Partnership has been the champion for more than $5 million in infrastructure improvements downtown. Beginning in 2003, the Partnership collaborated with the City of Conway, Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, Conway Development Corporation, and Conway Corporation on streetscape projects that include wider sidewalks with brick pavers, landscaping, new period streetlights, and improvements to underground infrastructure along Front, Oak, and Parkway Streets.
In 2009, public-way improvements continued with the new Conway Police Station project that added the block of Front, Deer, Chestnut, and Prairie Streets to the streetscape of downtown Conway. Main Street from Front Street east to Harkrider Street got the improved, public-way treatment in 2012.
In 2013, Main Street added more than 70 parking spaces while improving sidewalks and lighting. And the new Rogers Plaza at the intersection of Oak and Van Ronkle Streets finally gave downtown the signature entrance that had been talked about for more than a decade.
Finally, the Partnership has led the effort to create a Central Business Improvement District (CBID). Once operational, the CBID will provide sustained annual funding for our downtown’s public spaces.
Downtown developers and tenants can see at every corner the proof of Conway’s commitment to downtown.