The Transformation of Downtown Springdale

It was an unexpectedly cold morning. Even so, tulips were everywhere downtown, giving me splashes of color in bursts as I walked. It was beautiful to witness so many installations of canopy and outdoor lights in alleys and nooks and crannies.

There are places in Downtown Springdale that startle you with a mix of form and function. If the right people are involved, this could be amazing. I’m hoping that color finds a better home here.

Downtown Springdale is substantially different than it was a year ago. Entire blocks and buildings have surrendered to history, while others sprouted in their wake. It feels like the area is awakening. Even as the national economy falters, it’s difficult to miss the fact that Downtown64 (as it should be called, by the way) is the focus of a lot of energy and attention. Art, storefront displays, food, outdoor dining/drinking, public spaces, the Apollo Events Center, a trail, bike shops, lofts/apartments off Emma, a marathon, murals, and outdoor dining events; the area is markedly different than it once was. That’s a good thing.

The Arts Center of the Ozarks, often overlooked. Even though the picture is blurry, I’m leaving it, if only because I didn’t have my glasses on when I took the picture.

One of the many murals showing up all over Springdale. If I had a say, every wall would be covered in color and beauty.

Perhaps the ugliest logo in human history. Not quite the ugliest, but I still hate how this logo somehow made it through the process of becoming the city’s logo.

Don Guero’s is no Mr. Taco Loco, but it adds flavor to Emma.

Out of the last several times I’ve dined out, it’s been on Emma. Fair or not, living in East Springdale isn’t conducive to fine dining.

The one thing that is missing for me is a coffee shop for early morning. Such a place would bring visitors to Emma at an earlier hour. As the number of people working near Emma increases, it is inevitable. The question is who’ll realize the pull of such a place first. Art economies require copious amounts of both alcohol and caffeine. I included Bike Rack’s picture because the hours posted on the door don’t coincide with them being open. Trailside Coffee inside the Phat Tire Bike Shop is the other competitor, located off of Shiloh Square and Turnbow Park. Maybe we’ll get back to normal when the pandemic is over.

Speaking of ‘open hours,’ the barbershop adjacent to the Apollo had the same problem the other morning. Unless the clientele is vampire-oriented, someone forgot to turn the light off by 4 a.m.

That is a fox in the middle of the picture. I heard yipping and scampering behind me for at least a minute. I assumed it was a dog following me. It wasn’t. It was Mr. Fox. He was mostly unafraid of me. I took the picture near the intersection of Grove and Quandt, where the vacant church that should be a private residence sits. Years ago, I lived on Grove Street, near the Arts Center of the Ozarks.

I like Emma much, much better now that someone wisely installed multiple 4-way stops and mostly eliminated the one-way street nonsense that once plagued downtown.

Taken from the creekside portion of the trail approaching Huntsville Avenue.

Many people are unaware that there are loft apartments above James & James off Emma.

Storefront art installations; this one is across from The Odd Soul and Mr. Taco Loco on Emma.

Small house tucked away near the Apollo Theater. I love such residences, along with upper story apartments and condos in urban areas. A smart developer built a row of apartments near the old Washington Elementary building past the Community Clinic and near the Jones Center. I think it’s brilliant. (Little Emma apartments) They look sleek and modern. The picture I snapped of them looked terrible.

The old Layman building property. Except for the corner on Water Street, the entire block is gone. For Springdale residents, the absence of anything here is striking.

… as does the block that once held the Bank of American and HelpCard building, along the railroad excursion depot.

If you’re interested, you can still go back to 2007 using Google Streetview and ‘drive’ the old Emma and its old buildings. It’s worth the time to do so if that sort of thing interests you.

No matter how you feel about the changes to Downtown Springdale, you should prepare yourself for ongoing transformation. Millions of dollars will continue to funnel through this corridor. I predict it will be both functional and beautiful. That Springdale is building its new Criminal Justice Center within pitching distance of the Shiloh Museum and Turnbow Park is genius. It anchors downtown and adds an element of safety to visitors. It’s possible to walk for thirty minutes and witness millions of dollars of investment happening right in front of us.

If you’re a fan of Springdale, I recommend that you walk the area when other people are still asleep. It’s another world an done conducive to discovering new things about our common geography.

P.S. You’ll discover things about yourself, too.

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https://www.springdalear.gov/595/Downtown-Springdale

https://www.downtownspringdale.org/

https://www.facebook.com/DowntownSpringdale/

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