Fayetteville council to discuss arts corridor parking deck location

Fayetteville council to discuss arts corridor parking deck location



Members of the public asked the Fayetteville City Council to keep options open for the location of a new parking deck downtown.

Discussion went late Dec. 17 on where to put a parking deck in association with construction of the cultural arts corridor. Members of the public expressed concern over the administration’s handling of narrowing the location of the deck.

Council Member Kyle Smith introduced a measure to keep three options for the deck open. Mayor Lioneld Jordan presented a measure recommending the deck be built at the depot lot northwest of West Avenue and Dickson Street.

Under the proposal, the city would buy a portion of the lot to build the deck for $350,000. The deck would go next to the east side of Arsaga’s and north of the depot building and train bank.

The council will talk about the options again at its next meeting.

Voters in April approved building a cultural arts corridor downtown. Part of the corridor involves turning the 290-space parking lot west of the Walton Arts Center into a civic gathering space. Turning the Fay Jones woods west of the library into a nature attraction, along with street and trail improvements, also will make up the corridor.

A study from Garver Engineering released in March identified three locations for the deck — the depot lot, a city lot on North School Avenue east of the Spring Street deck and the site of Nadine Baum Studios.

The city owns the Baum Studios site with the University of Arkansas. University officials have said they want Baum Studios to stay. City officials say the building as it is now would have to be demolished to make room for a deck.

Council members Kyle Smith and Sarah Marsh said they would support the Baum Studios option. Smith said he wouldn’t support a plan that would harm the Community Creative Center, which operates out of that building.

City officials estimate replacing the Nadine Baum studio could cost up to $9 million. Marsh suggested having the Community Creative Center operate out of the Porter Produce building next to Grub’s on West Avenue. The city and Walton Arts Center have joint ownership of the space.

Fayetteville Housing Authority board members told the council about a proposal to partner at the Baum Studios site and include affordable housing and revitalization plans along with the deck.

Board member Melissa Terry emphasized the corridor’s stated goals to make a public investment on public land for public use. She questioned who would benefit under the depot lot option.

The depot lot covers 2.4 acres. Greg House, under his Fayetteville Depot LLC, owns 1.6 acres of it. The Bank of Fayetteville owns 0.8 acres where the train bank sits.

Two, three-story buildings also would be part of the plan. One building would line West Avenue and abut the parking deck’s east side. Another would face the south side of Dickson Street. The proposal includes certain requirements for the buildings.

The buildings and the strips of land they would sit on would be built and owned by House under his LLC.

Several residents who spoke also voiced support for the Baum Studios option. Resident Andrea Fournet said there still might be wiggle room to talk with the university.

“A no can be a maybe, and a maybe can be a yes,” she said.

Cary Arsaga, co-owner of Arsaga’s, said he’d accept the decision to build at the depot lot if the administration chooses it as the best option. However, it would kill his business, he said. The layout of the parking deck as proposed would sit outside the front door of Arsaga’s.

“That’s not a limited impact,” Arsaga said. “That’s massive.”

Barb Putman with the Community Creative Center said building the deck at Baum Studios isn’t viable. The smaller space at the Porter Produce building wouldn’t be adequate, she said.

“We are in the cultural arts district right now, doing art,” Putman said.

Council Member Mark Kinion said he heard challenges associated with the depot and Baum Studios options, but hadn’t heard much about the School Avenue option. It seemed to be the least controversial option, he said.

“It might not be the most beautiful or flexible, but our commitment was to build a deck within close vicinity to the Walton Arts Center,” Kinion said.

Discussion went past midnight. About 20 people spoke.



Next Meeting

WHEN — 5:30 p.m. Jan. 7

WHERE — Room 219, Fayetteville City Hall

Categories: In The News