DLRP Annual Meeting Highlights Preliminary Work, Findings of Downtown Master Plan

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (March 28, 2023) – Downtown Little Rock advocates, state and city officials and business leaders celebrated last year’s achievements and shared exciting opportunities for the city’s core at the 2024 Downtown Little Rock Partnership Annual Meeting presented by Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Arvest Bank.

“I call on all of you in this room to find a way to champion our city and get involved,” outgoing DLRP Board President Carol Worley told the sold-out crowd. “The Downtown Master Plan is nearly complete, and we will soon have our marching orders. I said this last year, but it bears repeating. Hold on everyone. This is just the beginning.”

Downtown Little Rock shares a great deal in common with peer cities around the South. Many of these peer cities have taken greater strides in recent decades to invest in planning, policy, and the public realm.

Josh Brooks and Daniel Church of Sasaki shared case studies of these peer cities, and explained ways the downtown revitalization drove reinvestment and transformed entire metro regions.

“When you compare downtown Little Rock against some other benchmark cities, we are sitting at 1/3 to ½ of the density as these other downtowns,” DLRP Executive Director Gabe Holmstrom said. “Everyone in this room knows we have a plethora of surface parking lots in downtown, but what you might not know is 23% of the land in downtown is owned by the government — be it state, city or federal… Residential real estate is currently sitting at occupancy rates of upwards of 96% downtown. That seems like a real opportunity by my math.”

The Top of the Rock Award is presented annually to an organization, business or individual who has worked to shape and elevate downtown Little Rock, and this year the the DLRP recognized the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts for its incredible transformation in the heart of the MacArthur Park neighborhood.

 Joe Fox was named ‘Downtown Pioneer’ for his decades of work to revitalize the SoMa neighborhood, and current SoMa 501 Executive Director Elizabeth Michael earned the ‘Downtown Spotlight’ for the energy and events she has brought to the neighborhood. The ‘Heart of Downtown’ went to Phil Brandon of Rock Town Distillery for the unique character his business brings to the core of our city. 

The DLRP board class of 2027 was also elected, during the business portion of the meeting. Board members serve 3-year terms. David Sargent will replace Worley, and Nathan Coulter and Nicki Crane-Hasty will join the Executive Committee.

Robert Klein - The Property Group

Shealyn Sowers - Arkansas Dept Parks and Tourism

Quantia 'Key' M. Fletcher - Mosaic Templars 

Kelli McDaniels - Richardson Properties 

Matthew Dearnley - Flake and Company 

Alecia Castleberry - Pulaski Academy  

Amy Blake - Arkansas Business Publishing Group.

Amy Moorehead - Nexus Coffee/River Market Rise

Elizabeth Michael - SoMa501

Tracy Cryder - Southern Tail Brewing 

Ross Cranford - Cranford Co.

Natalie Ghidotti - Ghidotti Communications

Jacob E. Hall - Regions Bank 

Denise Hanson - Colliers International

Shannon Heard - Walton College

Josh Malone - Arvest Bank 

Lisa Lake - AT&T

Greg McCarroll - Centennial Bank  

Chad Causey - Rose Law Firm 

Mimi San Pedro - The Venture Center 

Mark Stodola - Stodola & Associates, Inc.

James Sullivan - AMR Architects 

Alex Thomas - Clinton School of Public Service 

Will Trice - Arkansas Repertory Theatre  

Jeff Utecht – Meadors, Adams & Lee

Drew Williams - Baldwin & Shell Construction Company

Jeremiah Wood - Friday, Eldredge & Clark, LLP

Brent Birch - LR Tech Park