The city of Russellville has big plans for El Paso Avenue by Arkansas Tech campus as a part of its downtown master plan.
El Paso Avenue could be a huge prospect and opportunity for both the city and the campus. It also became noticed by Arkansas Tech in order to promote the connection between students and the Russellville community. El Paso is partly owned by Arkansas Tech.
Part of what prompted the link between Arkansas Tech and the city was the groups working together on Tech’s own master plan and the city’s update of its master plan. “The city has a long and good relationship with Arkansas Tech. We’ve been partners since they created the campus back in the early 1900’s,” said Kurt Jones, city engineer of Russellville.
The first part of this plan started with the bike lanes created down El Paso. “The city can invest in infrastructure improvements like streets and street lighting and drainage, walkways and so forth like that. This street department can’t invest in brick and mortar type development,” said Jones. Therefore, the city must wait for private developers to come and see potential in El Paso before the city can move forward.
Zoning districts, which are particular areas that have certain property values, are a huge part of any city. In Russellville, the city decided to establish three new zoning districts, named College Hill, Prairie Creek and Downtown Crossing for El Paso. Downtown Crossing relates to the site with four corners at West Parkway Drive and El Paso Avenue. According to the “Experience El Paso: An Implementation Strategy,” Downtown Crossing includes “reconfiguring the intersection, coupled with new buildings designed to create a gateway to both districts that will help produce a pedestrian street safe zone and a nexus for the Russellville experience.” Prairie Creek involves responding to the waterways and the areas of H Street. These areas give hope for more urban-style developments, which includes malls, places for live events and parking lots.
However, the most plans go to the College Hill zoning area, which solely works in order to influence “an extended ATU experience and establishes significant student services presence and amenities provided by both ATU and private market investments.”
The inspiration for El Paso is like that of Dickson Street in Fayetteville.
“The whole idea was to tie together downtown and Arkansas Tech, that’s the bottom line,” said Jones. For more information, students can visit https://www.russellvillearkansas.org/211/Planning-Zoning, and for a look at the future of El Paso Avenue, http://www.experienceelpaso.com/.