Design to begin on cultural arts corridor in Fayetteville

The “Cultural Arts Corridor” follows the Razorback Greenway from Dickson Street to Prairie Street.

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

Design of a project that is expected to transform the areas between Fayetteville’s most notable cultural hubs was given the green light this week.

City Council members on Tuesday unanimously approved a contract with Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects for the design of what’s being called the “Cultural Arts Corridor” in downtown Fayetteville.

The corridor follows the Razorback Greenway from Dickson Street to Prairie Street and is envisioned as a series of public open spaces connecting the Walton Arts Center, TheatreSquared, Nadine Baum Studios and the Fayetteville Public Library.

The two-phase design is funded entirely by a $1.8 million Design Excellence Award grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Phase 1 will cost $618,431 for schematic design, and Phase 2 is estimated at $881,569 for design development, construction drawings, and bidding services.

Source: City of Fayetteville / Click to enlarge

The project scope includes the plaza at Dickson Street and West Avenue, various streetscape enhancements, improvements to the trail system, and incorporation of the Fay Jones parkland west of the Fayetteville Public Library.

Breck Gastinger, a senior associate at Nelson Byrd Woltz, said the Virginia-based firm has designed public spaces of varying sizes in places like Houston, Nashville, New York City, London and Auckland, New Zealand.

Gastinger said the firm has experience designing intensively used public places that incorporate ecology and natural systems in an effort to create identity and draw in people of different backgrounds.

Council member Matthew Petty said the corridor project is over a decade in the making, and will help create places that inspire life-changing moments.

“What is the value of having a place to go where you can witness a (wedding) proposal?” Petty asked. “I think we forget sometimes that you’re supposed to create those kinds of memories in cities just by virtue of being there.”

Petty said Fayetteville doesn’t really have a place like that. He said there’s the downtown square, but that area is only occupied during scheduled events. The new corridor, he said, would be consistently occupied if designed correctly.

“This is the start of something that’s going to be really transformational,” he said. “And I couldn’t be more excited.”

Molly Rawn, executive director of the Advertising and Promotion Commission, said she recently visited the Citygarden in St. Louis that was designed by Nelson Byrd Woltz.

“I looked at how the project fit with the surrounding area and I paid close attention to the people who were using the area,” she said, noting that she saw school children playing, teenagers who were engaged with the outdoors, and diverse groups of adults interacting with each other.

“I went from excited to thrilled about what this project means for our city, both from a tourism perspective and a quality of life perspective,” Rawn said.

Gastinger said final schematic design is expected to be completed this fall.

As for funding of the actual construction of the project, city officials said they expect to present a bond referendum to voters early next year.

Bidding and selection of a construction firm would likely come in late 2019, with the construction process wrapping in 2021.