Downtown Conway attracts housing and other changes

The following is taken from a Log Cabin Democrat article written by Angela Spencer. The article shows a change in the housing market in Conway. While the traditional 3 bedroom 2 bath home is still poplar in Conway other housing options such as urban housing is making in roads in the market. The article dated June 1, 2013 follows:
Downtown Conway provides a lot of shopping and dining opportunities, and the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, along with the Conway Downtown Partnership is continuing to promote improvement to that area. Recently, the chamber completed a housing survey that reaffirmed some of their suspicions about a desire for downtown housing.

“We knew there was s demand for increased housing downtown, but we didn’t have any data to quantify it,” said TJ Johnston, executive vice president of the chamber.

The in-house study focused on the people at Hewlett-Packard and Acxiom, and Johnston said the chamber was hoping for 100 to 150 responses and received 446.

Over 50 percent of people who filled out the survey currently live in Conway would prefer to live in some kind of downtown housing if it was available,” Johnston said.

The survey showed 69.5 percent of participants live in other areas of Conway, but 52.6 percent said they would be willing to live in downtown Conway if the appropriate housing options were available.

Of 129 answers, 31.8 percent said they would be willing to pay between $750 and $999 per month for rent or mortgage, insurance and taxes. 38.5 percent of 416 of the participants reported annual household income over $100,000.

“Once you have more people living down here then it just breeds more restaurants, it breeds more types of collateral businesses to work with those businesses,” she said. “Its a chain of events. We’re very excited about it.”

There are current downtown housing options along Front Street, at Covington Towers and at 406 Place, all of which have had success.

Looking five years out, Williams said the number one goal is to have more housing downtown, followed by more jobs and a parking solution.

“With more businesses looking to move downtown, it’s just so much easier for people to have their employees here as opposed to different areas,” she said. “It’s one stop. They come to work, they can go to lunch, they can run all their errands and never get in their can again until they leave.”

Part of the convenience includes walkability and safety, and Williams said there are strategies to help with those concerns.

The streetscaping that we do actually helps to calm the traffic to help people feel protected,” she said.

There are also plans to reduce the number of lanes along Main Street in front of the Federal Building which will create more parking spots as well as lower the amount of road a pedestrian would have to cross at the crosswalks.

Johnston said the chamber is expecting to announce three significant downtown projects this year, including one multi-family development. This year may be one of the best for downtown development, he said.

“There was a period of time where we were going to have to go recruit outside investors and developers to wrap their mind around developing downtown this way,” he said. “The promising thing is that the three projects we’re talking about announcing are all local, and the one that’s going to have a significant portion of providing more housing options is a local developer as well. It’s really encouraging.”

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