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Little Rock's mayor gives update on Asher Avenue revitalization efforts

Daniel Breen
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks with reporters at the site of an abandoned former auto parts store at 4102 Asher Ave. in Little Rock.

Little Rock officials say progress is being made on efforts to revitalize a dilapidated stretch of Asher Avenue.

Mayor Frank Scott Jr. gave an update Thursday on the project which was first announced in September of 2020. Speaking in front of a long-vacant building being demolished, Scott said work is progressing to tear down or renovate abandoned buildings in the area.

“We’re focused on not only addressing this blight, addressing this issue, but also bringing back economic activity to this corridor as well as south of [Interstate] 630 and east of I-30,” Scott said. “This is what it means to truly focus on growth and transformation in a city, in an area that needs, because of the equity focus that we have, more development.”

Scott says the city and partner agencies have waived close to $800,000 in building permit and water fees in an attempt to spur economic development in the corridor.

Jamie Collins, Little Rock's director of planning and development, says a number of property owners are working with the city on the project.

“We designated 18 properties in that corridor that we sent letters, communicated, and physically met with property owners, to talk about their plans for the property, what were they planning to do over the next five or ten years. Out of that, four properties have been actively working with the city in remediation efforts,” Collins said.

While the project focuses on properties stretching along Asher Avenue between Woodrow Street and Fair Park Boulevard, Scott said rejuvenating the area ultimately benefits all neighborhoods.

“Since August of 2020 and to now, when we look at economic development and the number of new building permits, the number of new economic activity, 55% of the last year was in south of 630 and east of I-30. That’s because we’ve been intentional about equitable economics, and that’s what helps drive down crime, that’s what helps bring a greater quality of life and place in the entire city.”

Central Arkansas Water CEO Tad Bohannon said the utility has seen about 34 new water service installations in the area, with about $16,000 in fees waived for the property owners. Howell Anderson, COO of the Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority, said it has waived about $90,000 in connection fees, resulting in about 200 new customers in the area.

Daniel Breen is a Little Rock-based reporter, anchor and producer for KUAR.