First Placemakers Summit, Bootcamp Bring Downtown Experts to Northwest Arkansas

Main Street Arkansas - Friday, April 01, 2016

First Placemakers Summit, Bootcamp Bring Downtown Experts to Northwest Arkansas



Main Street Arkansas will be among the sponsors, as northwest Arkansas hosts the first Placemaker Summit and Small Developer Bootcamp, gathering urban planners, developers, civic organizations and municipal leaders from across Arkansas, Kansas. Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. This three-day event will explore place-based strategies that strengthen a community, the economy and a unique sense of place vital to staying competitive in the 21st Century.

Taking place in downtown Bentonville April 22-24, dynamic speakers, interactive panel discussions, immersive tours, small discussion groups, informative workshops and one-on-one opportunities with national leaders in the field are fueled by locally sourced food, live music and engaging social events.

“Cities across Middle America recognize the importance of their downtowns and urban cores,” said Daniel Hintz, Chief Experience Architect of the Velocity Group and one of the event’s producers. “The summit and bootcamp bring together a powerful network of local, regional and national experts to identify the challenges to cultivating a unique sense of place by exploring neighborhood based solutions that create value for both citizens and visitors.”

Northwest Arkansas provides an excellent backdrop for the summit, as five major cities have now adopted downtown master plans. In addition to learning from the urban planning consultants who helped develop these plans, the event opens the opportunity to learn from municipal colleagues about their successes and challenges in developing and implementing these master plans through several interactive panels and plenary sessions.

“While our downtowns in the region are in various stages of revitalization,” said Mike Harvey, chief operating officer of the Northwest Arkansas Council, “this event highlights the power of coordinated, regional placemaking work and provides an opportunity to share our experiences while learning from other communities across the state and mid-South.”

While the Placemaker Summit will focus on creating and implementing the big plans, the Small Developer Bootcamp will provide hands-on experience for incremental private sector development necessary to fuel those plans. The bootcamp is a project of the Incremental Development Alliance (IDA), a national non-profit organization focused on training, coaching and connecting people to create neighborhood scale, small development projects in their communities.

"The work completed by the municipalities in Northwest Arkansas signaling their welcome to human scaled, walkable neighborhoods is fantastic. However, the hard work of implementation now begins," says IDA Executive Director Jim Kumon. "We hope the boot camp will engage small business owners, design and real estate professionals, builders, contractors and neighborhood advocates to augment their existing skills to develop the lots and buildings they care about. No one is coming from the outside to do this work for you, it has to be locally grown."

The Placemaker Summit will be held at the Meteor Theatre (128 W. Central Ave.) and the Small Development Bootcamp will take place at Tavola Trattoria (108 SE A St). Both locations in downtown Bentonville are examples of incremental downtown revitalization projects and offer a great context to the weekend. The Meteor Theater was a historic movie theater currently being updated as an event and live music venue and the Tavola building was an urban infill project built by a local developer.

The summit’s impressive list of national and regional placemaking experts includes Mike Lydon, a principal of The Street Plans Collaborative of New York; Victor Dover, co-founder of Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning in Coral Gables, Fla.; John Anderson, principal at Anderson|Kim Architecture + Urban Design in Albuquerque; urban developer Monte Anderson, president of Options Real Estate in Dallas; Timothy Breihan, principal of H3 Studio Inc. in St. Louis; John Hoal, founding principal of H3 Studio Inc.; urban designer and neighborhood advocate Jim Kumon; Tommy Pacello, president of the Medical District Collaborative in Memphis; and Scott Polikov, president of Gateway Planning in Dallas.

“While many of the speakers helped develop the downtown master plans found throughout Northwest Arkansas, this gathering of experts have been collectively involved in a vast portfolio of national and international projects,” said Hintz. “The summit and bootcamp will provide exceptional access to this significant level of experience and know-how.”

The event is supported by the Walton Family Foundation, with additional partners including the Arkansas Municipal League, Main Street Arkansas, Northwest Arkansas Council, the Arkansas Times, and Block, Street, and Building Magazine. The event is produced by the Velocity Group and the Incremental Development Alliance.

Summit and bootcamp registration may be made at Early-bird registration ends April 5.