As outdoor dining remains more popular than ever, Rock Region METRO is helping to meet the demand and enhance its METRO Streetcar railway by turning eight former downtown North Little Rock parking spaces into “parklet” dining spaces which are slated to open in mid- to late November 2022. Joining the City of North Little Rock; the Argenta Arts District, a community of economic development-minded downtown boosters; and businesses along Main Street, METRO is launching this small transit-oriented development project to augment the railway and promote safety.
The parklets, designed by local firm AMR Architects, will provide street-level dining areas and effectively extend walk paths, as well as offer railing to separate the streetcar tracks from pedestrians. The parklets will be located on the east and west sides of Main Street on two adjacent blocks, slowing traffic on a busy four-lane road the streetcar shares with mixed traffic. Argenta, the original city and downtown neighborhood name, is known for its beautiful springtime flower beds along Main Street, and the parklets will continue that tradition through integrated planters that local businesses will maintain. The parklets are expected to improve the view from the streetcars as well as the street, complementing the neighborhood’s vibrancy and perhaps influencing the creation of additional parklets in both downtown North Little Rock and Little Rock. The parklets also encourage event organizers to include the streetcar system when conceiving downtown activities and promote its use to reach events by parking and riding.
The total cost of the parkets project is $213,436, with 80 percent ($170,748) covered by Rock Region METRO; 16 percent ($35,000) from the City of North Little Rock and ($7,688) from the Argenta Arts District. The City of North Little Rock has recently engaged in a city-paid public parking area promotional campaign to coincide with the opening of the parklets, showcasing the roughly 200 free public parking spaces located one half-block east of Main Street between 6th Street and Bishop Lindsey Avenue and between 5th and 6th Streets.