Volunteers have begun brainstorming on attractions for North Little Rock’s Park Hill neighborhood during an event one weekend this fall to show what the community can be if the attractions became permanent.
Pop Up in the Rock — now in its third year — is an event put on by studioMain and Create Little Rock, an arm of the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce. Event organizers, volunteers and neighborhood residents work together to transform a chosen area into a vibrant urban community to gain momentum for permanent additions.
This year, the group chose to focus on Park Hill, a primarily residential area off John F. Kennedy Boulevard in North Little Rock. The group also has announced the location of next year’s pop-up event as West Ninth Street in Little Rock between Broadway and State Street.
At an organizational meeting Monday night, the group formed committees and talked about a timeline for hosting the Park Hill event, which is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13.
“One thing we hope to accomplish is to make Park Hill walkable,” co-chairman Bethany Berry said.
“A big hurdle we have to overcome is that JFK is a highway. We see that it blocks one side of Park Hill from the other. We want to focus on somewhat making multi-mobile transportation, whether it be through bike lanes or actually just making crosswalks safer. We want to bridge the gap from what residents say JFK has provided.”
Before, pop-up events have focused on a particular street for a certain stretch, but what’s unique about Park Hill is that it offers the opportunity to focus on a entire block or blocks and involve an entire community, Berry said.
Last year, Pop Up transformed Seventh Street in Little Rock, and the year before, its makeshift bike lanes and event on South Main Street were instrumental in persuading city officials to restripe and put in bike lanes there.
“With just a little bit of duct tape, a Saturday morning and a few volunteers, we were able to show a plan many had tried to implement, but with a visual we were able to get more people on board to implement that change permanently,” Berry said of South Main Street.
A recent Jump Start grant for Park Hill will help in the planning. The grant, a Metroplan and Imagine Central Arkansas initiative, will aid the city in “jump-starting” projects based on Metroplan’s long-range planning goals in Park Hill.
After planning is complete, the city can apply for an implementation grant. The city’s Fit 2 Live coordinator, Bernadette Rhodes, said the pop-up event can help show people what can be achieved.
“The idea is that more people will come into the area. It will become more of a destination for entertainment and for shopping, and it will increase the economic vitality, as well,” Rhodes said.
At Monday’s meeting, volunteers signed up for seven committees that will individually focus on streets, landscaping, marketing, entertainment vendors and other areas. More volunteers are needed and can get in touch with event organizers through the Facebook page Pop Up in the Rock.