The former Ryan’s Department Store building at the 200 block of Emma Avenue and the adjacent lot in the heart of downtown Springdale will become a mixed-used space anchored by a new concept from Ropeswing Hospitality Group, called Traveling Public.
The announcement was made Thursday (June 20) during the closing session of the Invest Springdale conference, sponsored by the Springdale Chamber of Commerce.
The mixed-use building will include 48 apartment units, as well as street-level retail anchored by Traveling Public, described by Ropeswing officials as an “all day hangout” with food and beverages. The hangout will be similar to The Holler in Bentonville, another Ropeswing concept where guests can choose their own adventure once they enter the space. Other Ropeswing venues in Bentonville include Pressroom, Preacher’s Son, Louise at Thaden Field and Record.
Ropeswing is an entity of Runway Group NWA, an economic development organization financed by members of the Walton family
Mike Malone, the chief coordination officer for Runway Group, said during the announcement that he loved Springdale, but joked he had to stop visiting in recent years because he was always asked what the plans were for the former Ryan’s store and adjacent space.
In 2015, a limited liability company controlled by the Walton family purchased the store and adjacent San Jose Manor Building at 202 E. Emma Ave., for $1.22 million. The property is on the north side of Emma, between Commercial and Spring streets. That purchase was seen by many as the first of several catalysts in revitalizing downtown Springdale.
Brenda Anderson of Blue Crane, the realty arm of Runway Group focusing on downtown development, said the mixed-use building would take about 15 months to complete. She said officials are working through the final design and construction is expected to begin in late 2019 with an opening planned for early 2021.
Rob Apple, managing director for Ropeswing Group, said the organization is working with Runway Group on the ground-floor commercial tenant space that will include a gathering place like a restaurant, pub or bistro. It could also include co-working space.
“People need to live downtown, not just visit downtown,” Apple said. “The corner space which was the former Ryan’s Department Store, will be kept in part to preserve some of the history.”
Apple said the multifamily tower will be located on the lot beside the former department store.
Just down the street at the 700 block of East Emma, another mixed-use building was announced by Don Harris, a partner with Shiloh Capital. He said a qualified opportunity zone fund established “sometime back” has enough assets now to finance the project.
It will include 2,500 square feet of retail and office space facing Emma Avenue with 24 residential units on the second floor. The units will be one- and two-bedroom apartments, ranging from 500 to 800 square feet. He said the project is expected to begin construction later this fall and possibly begin pre-leasing by early 2020.
Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse told Talk Business & Politics the announcements to bring mixed-use and 72 apartments downtown were huge for the city.
“What we have heard announced here [Thursday] has been in the works for several years and today will serve as a milestone to keep this momentum going,” Sprouse said.
ART, TRAILS, MOVIES
Aside from the new mixed-use announcements, improvements to the Razorback Regional Greenway where it crosses Emma Avenue are also on tap, according to Nathan Street, land development head for McClelland Consulting Engineers. He said design plans call for the crossing to be safer by eliminating a 90-degree turn and will be made more aesthetic with some art elements in the plaza.
There will also be art infused to the new Luther George Park on the east side of town with trails that will connect to the Razorback Greenway. Tyler Christopher, executive vice president of development with SkipStone Pictures, also made an announcement he’s moving that business to Springdale. He is known for his long-time role as Nikolas Cassadine on the NBC soap opera “General Hospital.”
Christopher has family roots in Camden in south Arkansas, has family in Bentonville and he’s been coming to the region for the past couple of years to make movies in the Springdale area. SkipStonecompleted the feature film “Fredi,” which was filmed in Northwest Arkansas and is now available on Netflix. The second film shot here, “Max Winslow and the House of Secrets,” will likely be out on Netflix this fall. Also this fall, SkipStone will be shooting a musical feature in Springdale.
“Every $1 we spend here would cost me $100 in Los Angeles. That’s why we are putting an office here,” Christopher said. “I have fallen in love with this place. We plan to bring a musical and film festival to Springdale next year to rival the Bentonville Film Festival. We are looking for our celebrity ambassador, likely a Hispanic female to reflect the diversity in this region.”