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MLK / Daisy Bates development ready to start again

The area around Central High School is ready for an economic shot in the arm. A development plan shelved a few years ago is ready to start up again and provide a boost to the neighborhood.
LITTLE ROCK, AR - The area around Central High School is ready for an economic shot in the arm. A development plan shelved a few years ago is ready to start up again and provide a boost to the neighborhood.

It’s another busy lunch rush at Uncle T's Grocery on Thursday.

"Who's next," an employee calls out to the waiting lunch line.

Now there's another question. What's next across the street at MLK and Daisy Bates.

Ron Woods heads up Woods Group Architects.

"We're hoping what you see on the billboard is what you're going to get," Woods says.

He envisions a two story, 22,000 square foot office-retail complex at a spot he considers critical for Little Rock.

"This will become not only a gateway to the Central High historic district but it will become the stopping point along that tourism route," Woods says.

For most of the last several years the piece of property on the northwest corner of the intersection is known more for marking Little Rock murders.

Woods says the stagnant economy that took hold in late 2008 stopped his project from advancing. His permit expired. Now he has to convince the city next month to green light it again.

"We're just now at the point where we feel comfortable in proceeding with the project," Woods says.

A key part of the redevelopment would include moving Uncle T's Grocery across the street into the new development and expanding to include a fresh produce offering for customers.

It’s an idea Mayzetta Thompson, a longtime employee at the store is looking forward to.

"It’s in a good area for one thing and the business is growing so I think it will be great," Thompson says.

The plan now is to break ground in the fall, and have it open by next spring.

"The neighborhood deserves something like this, they've been waiting for a long time so they don't have to go out of the neighborhood," Woods says.

The city of Little Rock Planning and Zoning Commission will reconsider the permit at their meeting August 2nd.
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