New attainable-housing project announced for downtown Springdale

Nearly half the units will be reserved for households earning less than the area's median income.
Big Emma rendering (BiLd Architects)

A new, 77-unit mixed-income apartment project in downtown Springdale will include 30 apartments reserved for families earning below the area’s median annual income of $92,400, the Northwest Arkansas Council announced this week.

The “Big Emma” development will be built at the southeast corner of Emma Avenue and Park Street, and is supported by a $6.75 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

“Northwest Arkansas’ rapid growth has caused housing to become increasingly inaccessible for the region’s workers and their families,” said Duke McLarty, executive director of Groundwork, the council’s newly renamed workforce housing center. “While growth is great news for the economy, more must be done to ensure there are adequate housing options for the workers that make up the fabric of the community.”

McLarty said he hopes Big Emma will serve as a model for future projects to provide more affordable housing options near core city centers.

Designed by BiLd Architects, the complex will include a ground-floor coffee shop.

The project will be managed by Community Development Northwest Arkansas. It was originally commissioned by Shiloh Capital, an investment fund owned by Springdale natives Ken Hall, Don Harris and Tom Lundstrum. The group also developed Little Emma less than block away.

“Permanently affordable housing is crucial to providing homes for teachers, nurses and other workers we all depend on,” said Robert Burns, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program director. “Big Emma will be a model for the region, ensuring Northwest Arkansas remains a great place to live and thrive.”

Big Emma rendering (BiLd Architects)

The council launched its workforce housing center in 2021. The new Groundwork name is more closely aligned with the organization’s stated goals, McLarty said during the announcement at the council’s annual meeting on Tuesday.

“Through strategic regional leadership, expertise and resources to strengthen communities, Groundwork is building the foundation for what the future of housing will look like in Northwest Arkansas,” said McLarty.