An Update from Batesville, Arkansas
Since our initial case study on Batesville, Arkansas, much work has been done to improve walkability and physical activity.
Work on the final four blocks of the streetscaping project are set for completion next year. Even before construction has concluded, excitement is swirling around Main Street, drawing new interest and investment. As of November 2016, the number of vacant buildings had decreased dramatically, from 20 three years ago to just two today with new businesses moving in and interest growing in creating residential space along the street. One newcomer, Village Adventures, which will occupy the former City Drug, plans to construct new second floor apartments. These will be the first legal apartments on Main Street and other investors are eyeing similar opportunities. The local library is renovating a three-story former department store on Main Street for occupancy in 2017 that is expected to further energize the east end of Main Street, drawing upwards of 500 people daily. Meantime, the west end of the street is already benefitting from three restaurants and the Melba Theater, a circa-1875, once-shuttered facility that has been fully restored and now shows movies four nights a week in addition to hosting other community events. Meantime, an organization called the Downtown Foundation is working to get a nearby park constructed that will add to Main Street’s vibrancy.