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Blog and pics of the Design Build #3. Welcome new Residents, the Morgan Family.
Blog: Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation
Post: UA Design Build #3
SOMA organizer discusses the design vision for the neighborhood and community involvement.
James Meyer is a project designer with Witsell Evans Rasco Architects/Planners and associate director of the American Institute of Architects Arkansas Chapter. He is the marketing and public relations chair for studioMAIN.
Q: For those who may have missed the buzz over the last year or so, let me start by asking you to tell me a little about studioMAIN. What is it, in a nutshell, and what does the group do?
A: StudioMAIN is a public outreach and community design center that works toward educating the general public about the role of good design in their daily lives and advocates the positive effects good design provides to cities and communities.
We function as a design collaboration between all parts of the design and construction industries, including architects, landscape architects, urban designers, contractors and artists. Our hope is that studioMAIN will provide a place for people to learn more about some of the great design efforts in our city, and to be an incubator for even better ideas about the future of our city.
A key part of our mission is to foster collaboration and encourage multi-disciplinary partnerships between the design fields and other civic institutions. We feel this is a critical endeavor to help develop the future leaders of our city and institutions, and promote a better built environment.
Q: Part of your mission involves hosting exhibits in your office on South Main, right? And I’m told you have an exhibit schedule for the year already? Can you share details?
A: Yep, for the past year we have been hosting monthly exhibitions on local design and issues as part of the city’s Second Friday Art Nights, and have gotten lots of positive feedback. Thanks to this community input we have been able to craft a full and exciting schedule for this year.
In February we will have our Year-in-Review exhibit, which will be a great way for folks who missed some of last year’s exhibits to get caught up. In March, we will be holding a book fundraiser for the DLRCDC and the Pettaway Park Masterplan manual. In April we will hold a memorial exhibition for Rick Redden, a local architect who passed away last year after making incredible contributions to our downtown. In honor of the Arkansas Arts Center’s Bauhaus exhibit this summer, we will have an exhibit of buildings in Arkansas that were influenced by the Bauhaus style. June will bring us a juried student competition from the Fay Jones School of Architecture, and in July we will be exhibiting furniture by UALR Applied Design students. In August we will have a public showing of the finalists for the Envision Little Rock competition. We will hold another PopUp public planning and input in September. An exhibition about transportation called Bikes, Rails and Trails will be seen in October. We will host the Arkansas Design Awards in November showing works from local architects, landscape architects and interior designers. We will finish the year up with an event celebrating the 100-year anniversary of the Nolen Masterplan for Little Rock.
Outside of our Second Fridays there are several events we hope to contribute to again, such as the Little Rock Film Festival. It’s definitely going to be a busy year.
Q: You mentioned there’s another PopUp event coming in the not too distant future. What can you tell me about that and the plans for it? What may be the same or different this time around?
A: PopUp Main Street gave us a wonderful opportunity to create a full-scale test for a “complete street” design that folks have been talking about in Little Rock for years. The City of Little Rock and Create Little Rock have been great partners for us with this event. We hope to keep this partnership of experimentation and placemaking going, and hold another PopUp event this year as well.
We are just beginning our process for the next PopUp event. Main Street, Seventh Street, Second Street and the Argenta area have all been mentioned as possible locations. We will have a few exploratory and organizing meetings before selecting the final location, and then we will start holding our public input and design sessions again in August of this year. We tentatively plan to hold the actual event in October or November.
DLRCDC and UADC receive 2013 AIA Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design for Rock Street Pocket Neighborhood
The Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation and the University of Arkansas Design Center received a 2013 Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design from the American Institute of Architect for their Pocket Neighborhood or Rock Street Pocket Housing Design (in the Pettaway Park Neighborhood). Click here for more.
Students at the University of Arkansas Community Design Center (Fayetteville, AR) have completed “Pettaway Neighborhood Revitalization Manual for a Complete Neighborhood.” The manual culminates a year of study and immersion in this downtown Little Rock community and is a wonderful resource for future development. Click the following link to view and download the Manual (https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B4aUL4Y385ArT0tTZUxRQXJ3ZDg)
Pettaway Pocket Neighborhood Residential Architect Design Award Winner for Affordable Housing, Urban Design
The Pettaway Pocket Neighborhood was featured “On the boards” for the 2012 Residential Architect Design Awards. 36 winning projects were chosen from 800 entries submitted by architects from around the world. According to Residential Magazine, “….judges were impressed with the thoughtful design behind this affordable pocket community.”
principal in charge: Stephen Luoni, Assoc. AIA, University of Arkansas Community Design Center; project designers:Cory Amos, James Coldiron, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, and Jeffrey E. Huber, AIA, LEED AP, University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC); student interns: Brendan Boatright, William Bobo, Suzana Christmann, Jeremy Goucher, Ginger Hefner, Michael Lyons, Akihiro Moriya, Cesar Augusto Larrain Vaca, UACDC; developer: J. Scott Grummer, Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corp., Little Rock; project size: 1,000 square feet to 1,400 square feet; site size: 0.92 acre; construction cost: $90 per square foot; sales price: $125,000 to $150,000; units in project: 9; renderings: Stephen Luoni
University of Arkansas Community Design Center (UACDC) in conjunction with the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation (DLRCDC) have completed a Pettaway Neighborhood Vision Plan. According to DLRCDC Website, “the UACDC submitted its preliminary study for the Pettaway Neighborhood for review and feedback. This initial study looks at what minimal investment can be made to achieve clear connections to Main Street and other anchors around the neighborhood.”
The UACDC/CDC will present their preliminary study to the Pettaway Community, 12:00 pm (Noon), Monday, April 16, 2012 at the East Broadway Alert Center, 500 East 21st Street (at the corner of Commerce). Pettaway residents are encouraged to attend. For more information contact Scott Grummer, Executive Director, DLRCDC at 501.372.0148.
Click (here) To see the preliminary Pettaway Neighborhood vision plan.
The following article, Bank of America denies loan for LR container house appeared in the Arkansas Times. Here’s an excerpt from the article. Enjoy!
Bank of America denies loan for LR container house: Too “unusual” to appraise, bank says.
by Leslie Newell Peacock
Valarie Abrams appeared on the cover of the Arkansas Times last March, standing on the empty lot on 21st Street where her new home was to be built, a big smile on her face. The article was about the rise of the Pettaway neighborhood east of Main Street, which had suffered blows from gangs in the 1980s and a tornado in the ’90s, thanks to efforts of the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation. Abrams was in line to get her first house, which would also be Little Rock’s first home constructed from steel cargo containers, a green idea trending in new construction. She’d signed a contract with the DLRCDC to buy the house a year previously and was anxious to see the house go up.
But a couple of weeks ago, the Bank of America decided not to loan Abrams the money she needs to buy the $120,000 house. It’s not because she can’t afford it — she’s qualified through theNeighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, which works with Bank of America. It’s because, the bank has informed NACA, the home is too “unusual” to accurately appraise.
According to a spokesman in the Little Rock office of NACA, it’s the first time Bank of America has declined to finance a home in the NACA program in Little Rock, which began six years ago here.
Not only could Abrams lose out, but redevelopment in Pettaway, where a dozen homes have been built or remodeled over the past few years, could be stalled. “When something like this happens, it throws a wrench in the process,” said Scott Grummer, DLRCDC director. The DLRCDC needs to sell the house built for Abrams, at 421 E. 21st St., and the mirror-image container house next door, at 417 E. 21st, to fund its ongoing redevelopment of the neighborhood.
Bank of America has financed mortgages on other new homes in Pettaway, including two that would also be considered unusual — modern one-story homes designed by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture’s Design Build program, the first at 1519 Commerce St., a 1,100-square-foot home that sold for $109,000, and the second at 1805 Commerce.
Abrams, 52, an administrative assistant at General Mechanical Contractors, signed a contract with the DLRCDC for the 1,250-square-foot house April 30, 2010. She has jumped through every financial hoop NACA has required, including taking a course in home ownership and having her bank statements scrutinized every month. The three-bedroom, two-bath home has been fitted with a gleaming kitchen from IKEA — including a side-by-side refrigerator — and bamboo flooring. Abrams chose the light fixtures and the Revlon red paint on the living area wall. At her request, the wall was painted with a design that matches the blown-dandelion IKEA light fixture in the kitchen; the room is also lit by cable lights. Constructed of steel and tightly fitted, utility costs in the home aren’t expected to top $100 a month. The DLRCDC’s Grummer said the agency intentionally builds higher-end houses — those over $100,000 — to lift the neighborhood.
Abrams has prayed over the house. Her teen-aged daughter and the niece she’s raising have been eager to move into the house. She started packing her apartment at the first of January.
On Jan. 18, just as she thought everything was taken care of, she got an e-mail from NACA:
“Good Afternoon! After receipt of the third appraisal on this property, Bank of America has declined the loan due to the property being unusual, therefore being unacceptable. Bank of America would be happy to finance another home for you, but it has to be on the acceptable property list. Please advise how I can assist you in moving forward.” It was signed by the NACA agent assigned to Abrams. “I am devastated,” Abrams, 52, said Wednesday. (Click Here To Read The Rest Of This Article)