Taking The Arts Outdoors

Taking The Arts Outdoors

Corridor would change Fayetteville cityscape


The city of Fayetteville is in the middle of plotting a special project that will run from Dickson Street to Prairie Street — a project that has the potential to radically change the cityscape. The Cultural Arts Corridor, says the city’s website, “will link cultural attractions — including the Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared’s new performing arts venue, the Fayetteville Public Library and Fay Jones Woods.”

“This project will ultimately put our community’s cultural values on display for generations to come,” says Fayetteville’s sustainability and resilience director Peter Nierengarten.

Nierengarten answered three questions about the project for What’s Up!

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the potential plans for reclaiming the parking lot at Dickson Street and West Avenue?

A. This [planned] space is centered around a large open lawn area facing toward a stage area on the south. The lawn is estimated to allow for gatherings of 3,000 or more people for festivals, concerts and large events. Smaller shaded niches and alcoves designed around the perimeter of the central lawn will allow for smaller informal gatherings, eating, resting and people watching. The overall design of this civic space is intended to provide numerous opportunities for both programmed events, such as concerts and festivals, and smaller informal non-programmed events that happen organically. The city envisions programmed events such as concerts, movie nights, outdoor festivals, impromptu performances, bicycle and running events, receptions and more utilizing this downtown civic space in the future.

Q. Can you tell us about the plans for the Fay Jones Woodland area?

A. The Fay Jones Woodland is a wonderful natural area located just west of the Fayetteville Public Library’s expansion project and [is] adjacent to the Razorback Regional Greenway. … The intent of the design for this woodland is to preserve and enhance the existing forest and to provide new opportunities for residents and visitors to explore Tanglewood Branch with improved trail access and gathering areas scattered throughout the forest. The conceptual illustration shows elevated trails and boardwalks that will allow visitors to explore the tree canopy from elevated positions in the tree tops. These additional trails and possible structures, such as look-outs or tree houses, will be placed sensitively in the woodland to avoid soil disturbance and the removal of valuable existing trees.

An idea that is also being explored is to use the Fay Jones Woodland as an outdoor learning center for teaching people about native Ozark plants, ecosystems and waterways.

Q. What will this project offer in the direction of addressing affordable housing and business spaces?

A. There is interest in a possible art gallery in the multi-story building on the south side of the project and depending on the public/private partnership that emerges for this building’s design, there is the possibility that live/work project space could be included. Also, the city is interested in exploring opportunities that may exist for future artist live/work space in proximity to the Cultural Arts Corridor.

Artist live/work space has been an identified need in downtown Fayetteville at least since the adoption of the Downtown Master Plan in 2004. The Cultural Arts Corridor will serve as a catalyst to move the discussion of attainable artist housing forward. During the high-level conceptual analysis of the Cultural Arts Corridor, several opportunities have been identified where the construction of artist housing may be feasible, including lands surrounding the Fayetteville Housing Authority’s Hillcrest Towers.



But Where

Do I Park?

The Cultural Arts Corridor plans include reclaiming the large parking lot at Dickson Street and West Avenue. The loss of parking spaces has caused concern for some citizens, but Peter Nierengarten says there are plans to make sure those spaces are replaced.

“The city has retained Garver Engineering to conduct a replacement parking analysis that will explore the feasibility of up to five different sites in proximity to the existing Walton Arts Center on which to construct replacement parking spaces lost with the construction of the civic space,” Nierengarten says.

Possible new parking structure locations can be seen in the Power Point presentation on the city’s website at fayetteville-ar.gov/3456/Cutural-Arts-Corridor .

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