East Little Rock's 'Innovation Alley' Drawing Grit, Funk Lovers
Margaret McEntire has found herself in the midst of a second redevelopment wave in downtown Little Rock. A player on the River Market scene since 1999, McEntire is now hosting change instead of making it happen.
In this go-around, the founder and former owner of Candy Bouquet International is in the role of landlord to a new generation of entrepreneurs.
At her 501 Byrd St. warehouse once devoted to Candy Bouquet, McEntire is leasing 20,000 SF to a trendy tenant: Lost Forty Brewing. The company is among a growing group bringing a River Market flare east of Interstate 30.
“You take people with innovative-type ideas and you get innovative-type results,” McEntire said. “That is innovation alley over there. During the next 20 years, it is going to become the next redevelopment hot spot.”
Manufacturing meets entertainment, Lost Forty is drawing drinking and dining traffic to sample its brewery and kitchen wares.
The craft beer establishment, which opened in December 2014, is part of an early rollout of ventures bringing a reimagined vision to an industrial neighborhood dominated by conventional office-warehouse enterprises.
“We wanted a taproom for tasting and tours,” said John Beachboard, a Lost Forty partner. “We had no idea whether or not people would come down to the taproom for lunch or dinner or for beers.”
But its bar and restaurant combo has been a hit and an encouragement to others considering the possibilities of the area.
Lost Forty is one of four projects along a six-block stretch of East Sixth Street that feature a blend of work and pleasure served in an industrial setting.
The beachhead was established by Phil Brandon’s Rock Town Distillery, which opened craft liquor production and taste-testing tours in leased quarters at 1216 E. Sixth in September 2010.
Poised to make it a party of three is Rebel Kettle Brewing & Tap Room, which recently began producing batches of beer at 822 E. Sixth St. in advance of a spring opening.
Construction is expected to start this summer on the Sterling Paint redevelopment, which will become the new home of Cromwell Architects Engineers, a restaurant and loft apartments at 1300 E. Sixth St. by summer 2017.
A deal is in the works to expand the Sterling Paint redevelopment holdings, too. The 21,800-SF warehouse at 1212 E. Sixth, which houses Refurbished Office Panels and Recycled Bikes for Kids, is under contract and expected to close by the end of February.
“Our goal is to create one of the neatest streets along that stretch of Sixth and connect it with the front door of the Heifer International headquarters on Shall Street,” said Chris Moses, president of Moses Tucker Real Estate and partner in the Sterling Paint redevelopment.
(Also see: I-30 Changes Worry East Little Rock Property Owners)