Destination Downtown

2022_DestinationDowntownPostcard
 

The 2022 Destination Downtown conference will be held on September 14-16, 2022 in downtown North Little Rock. A partnership between Main Street Arkansas, Louisiana Main Street and the Mississippi Main Street Association, Destination Downtown is the South’s premier downtown revitalization conference.

The conference attracts Main Street executive directors, board members, city officials, merchants, property owners and others who gather to share ideas on building sustainable downtown communities. Held annually for more than 20 years, the conference rotates among the three states and local Main Street communities where it is hosted each year.

Destination Downtown is open to anyone with an interest in the economic revitalization of historic downtown commercial districts and is designed so that attendees learn from their colleagues as well as from experts in the field.

 
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Registration Information
  • Early bird rate $130: Deadline August 1, 2022
  • Regular rate $150: Deadline September 2, 2022
  • Late Registration rate $200: Available until the end of the conference
  • Municipal rate $75
REGISTER HERE

 

 

Conference Headquarters
Argenta Community Theater (ACT)
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Session locations
Argenta Community Theater, 405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR
The Innovation Hub, 204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR
Laman Library - Argenta Branch, 420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Conference Hotel
Wyndham Riverfront Hotel
2 Riverfront Place, North Little Rock, AR
The group rate is $109 plus tax and includes breakfast.
Book Your Reservation

Internet Café
The Baker, 501 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

The downstairs of The Baker will be available for conference attendees from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the days of the conference to pop in and relax, work or network. Complimentary snacks, water and sodas will be provided along with fast Wi-Fi service. 

 

Itinerary

 

10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Main Street 101 Workshop
Mary Helmer Wirth, Main Street Alabama
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Must pre-register. Box lunch is included.  

Are you a new Main Street director or board member? Or just need a refresher?  Or is your community interested in Main Street and you want to learn more?  

Don’t miss this fun introductory workshop to the world of Main Street.  

 


 

12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Registration and Exhibitor Set-Up
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR 

 


 

 

Mobile Tours

1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Tour Downtown Lonoke with an Electric Vehicle (EV) Excursion
Begins at the River Rail Trolley Barn
100 Bishop Lindsey Ave., North Little Rock, AR

Must pre-register. Tour is limited to 20.  

It’s no secret that these days, electric mobility is a hot topic. Local communities, big and small, are taking the initiative and pushing to be more connected. This tour will start and end in two towns that have taken action and invested in their sustainability. The tour will begin in North Little Rock’s Argenta, highlighting key focal points of recent development and will end at the River Rail Trolley Barn, the site of Argenta’s Level 2 EV charging stations, installed by North Little Rock’s Seal Solar. Evolve Auto will provide transportation (via EV) to downtown Lonoke, the “front porch of the Delta,” where attendees will learn about Lonoke’s Level 2 EV charging stations installed by the non-profit Adopt a Charger. Attendees will explore the recent developments in downtown Lonoke including an art gallery, historic train station and expansive green space. The tour will wrap up at the award-winning downtown Lonoke restaurant, The Grumpy Rabbit, with a few presentations discussing economic development, sustainability and the impact of community connectivity.

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Explore The Innovation Hub
204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR

Must pre-register. Tour is limited to 30.  

Come experience the first makerspace created in Arkansas - The Innovation Hub. On this tour, you will learn about the creation of the makerspace, tour the 22,000-square-foot-facility filled with 3D-printing, laser cutters, pottery, woodworking, screen printing and more, as well as participate in a hands-on activity. We look forward to showing you how a makerspace can impact your community. 

2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Discover Argenta Walking Tour
Rachel Patton, executive director, Preserve Arkansas
Meet at Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Must pre-register. Tour is limited to 25.  

Explore downtown North Little Rock (Argenta). Learn about the history of Argenta and its resurgence as a thriving arts and entertainment district. The tour will include some of the area’s public art and will stop at one of the local microbreweries. This is a walking tour so please dress comfortably and wear walking shoes.  

 


 

 

5:30 pm.
Welcome to Argenta
Argenta Plaza
510 N. Main St., North Little Rock, AR 72114.

Argenta Plaza, a $5.36-million community space features a “front porch” area with modern swings, a stage with a 40-foot video projection wall, a water wall, fountains and a “backyard” area with trees. The plaza has already been the catalyst for more than $50 million in economic development in downtown North Little Rock. Enjoy networking with colleagues while enjoying the front porch of Argenta, then continue your evening at one of the many restaurants in downtown Argenta.  

Dinner on Your Own
Argenta’s amazing restaurants and restauranteurs are community-minded and engaged in downtown’s activities. Take this opportunity to explore and enjoy the various dining opportunities available. 

 

 

Registration and Exhibits Open
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

 


 

9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m.
Welcome
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism and State Historic Preservation Officer
Terry Hartwick, Mayor of North Little Rock
Chris Kent, executive director, Argenta Downtown Council

 




9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.
Keynote Address
Mike Lydon, principal, Street Plans

 




10:15 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Break

 




10:30 a.m. – 11:45 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions

From the Tower (Building) to Congress (Street in Portland, Maine)Cary Tyson, executive director, Portland Downtown
Sarah Hansen, executive director, Greater Portland Landmarks
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

This session addresses lessons learned in the transition from state coordinator to local executive director. What happens after you spend years working at the state and regional level, advising numerous communities on their downtown revitalization and preservation efforts, and then end up running a local program? Do the expectations of your advice line up? What do you do when it doesn't? Hear lessons learned along that journey from a former Arkie who currently manages one of New England's most well-known downtowns, and one fifth-generation Mainer who has landed back home after 20 years working around the country (including Arkansas).

Storytelling on Social and In-Person (Part 1)
Sarah Marsom, heritage consultant and 2022 Preservation Action Hero of the Year
Laman Library - Argenta Branch
420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Main Street programs strive to be a catalyst for transformation, utilizing the Four-Point Approach. This session helps you connect storytelling to your Four-Point approach utilizing passive, active, temporary and permanent strategies. The “Storytelling on Social and In-Person” workshop will help you refresh and/or imagine new ways to connect to your audience. Every organization has different needs, your community’s history is unique and each Main Street is distinct. There are countless ways to reach your audience to achieve your educational goals – let’s figure out what helps amplify your community’s sense of place. You'll walk away with not only ideas, but also with a plan.

Love Where You Are – A Hands-On Arts Placemaking Session Using Haiku
Jacqueline Wolven, executive director, Main Street Eureka Springs
The Innovation Hub
204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR

Using the art of haiku, participants will experience place in a new way. Participants will get a quick refresher on how to write haiku and will participate in a guided experience in which they write about the neighborhood they explore together. This hands-on session can be brought to historic districts throughout the region to help people of all ages integrate into the love of where they are. Participants will write an original haiku. In the evening, those haiku will be part of a rotating presentation that allows the awe of their work to be felt by the writer and
those viewing the exhibition. This fun and easy placemaking project allows communities to see their natural and built places in a new way.

 




11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Lunch on Your Own

 



1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

The Power of Place
Jeff Siegler, Revitalize or Die
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

When we think of placemaking, we typically imagine how we dress up our favorite public space, but the concept of place is so much bigger. Place is ubiquitous. It affects everything we do and is one of the largest determinants of the type of life we lead. We are always surrounded by place. How places are built, how they function and how they are designed dictates how people go about leading their lives.

Our places have the ability to make us proud or make us feel ashamed. They have the ability to bring us closer to one another or make us feel alone. The places we shape, determine our physical, mental, social and economic health. In understanding how much our places shape our lives, we begin to understand how much better we need to be at shaping our places.

Storytelling on Social and In-Person (Part 2)
Sarah Marsom
Laman Library - Argenta Branch
420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Alleys as a Metaphor for Public Spaces: From Afterthoughts to Pathways and Places
Randy Wilson, Community Design Solutions
The Innovation Hub
204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR

Virtually every downtown features alleys of some configuration. From a design perspective, these spaces are often simply an afterthought. However, alleys have the potential to not merely be “pathways” but also “places” that can literally change the entire vibe of a downtown. What is even more compelling is that alleys can serve as a metaphor for the public spaces in our downtowns, because the same best practices that govern alley enhancement apply to our public spaces in downtown.

This session will address seven best practices pertaining to alley design that also apply to downtown public realm design. The presentation is highly visual, includes many examples and culminates with several real-life case studies.

 


2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Break

 




3:00 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Concurrent Sessions

Understanding the Development Process
Joe Borgstrom, principal, Place + Main
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

This session will help attendees understand what the real estate development process looks like. It will outline the steps needed to ensure a quality development and what Main Street organizations can do to help during the predevelopment, development and completion stages.

Outdoor Recreation as an Economic Driver
Katherine Andrews, director, Arkansas Office of Outdoor Recreation
Laman Library - Argenta Branch
420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Outdoor recreation is quickly becoming a major contributor to our nation’s economy. This session will focus on the economic impact of outdoor recreation, the creation of Offices of Outdoor Recreation across the country and how Main Street organizations can connect to this sector. It will review national and state impact data, case studies of outdoor recreation downtown development and resources to increase access, promotion and growth.

Effective Design Review for Main Street
Joe Lawniczak, downtown design specialist, Wisconsin Main Street
Location To Come

Now that you have your façade grant in place and your local properties designated, you must create design guidelines, establish design review and have to tell people what they can or cannot do with their properties. This step is arguably the most crucial one of all and is easy to get wrong. This session will tell you how to walk a fine line between being too lenient and too stringent – how to compromise when appropriate and stand firm when needed. Participants will learn how to do so in a respectable way that will not set unwanted precedents, nor make people dread having to go before you with their proposals. This session will help people just beginning the process as well as those who’ve been providing design review for years.

 




4:30 p.m. – 5:15 p.m.
Downtown Happy Hour LIVE!
Ben Muldrow, Joe Borgstrom and Jeff Siegler
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Let’s talk all things downtown!  

Grab a beverage and settle in for some deep downtown discussion. Join regulars Ben Muldrow, surly staple and branding guru, Joe Borgstrom, colorful character and numbers nerd, and Jeff Siegler, civic pride evangelist and in high school, voted most likely to get in a fight WITH a parking lot. 

Ben, Joe and Jeff will host a discussion on the challenges we face in the field, poke holes in popular Main Street myths and rant on the endless red tape. Not content to drink alone, the audience will be expected to participate, provide suggestions and share their own exaggerated tales of downtown.

 




6:00 p.m.
Taste of Argenta
Argenta Plaza
410 Main Street, North Little Rock, AR

Network with colleagues while enjoying food and drink from downtown Argenta’s restaurants and microbreweries.

 

8:00 a.m.
Registration and Exhibits Open
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

 


 

8:30 a.m. – 9:45a.m.
Concurrent Sessions 

The Grumpy Rabbit: A Homemade Recipe for Hometown Success
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

In this presentation, Ryan Biles leads a unique, lively roundtable conversation with owner Gina Wiertelak, interior designers Natalie Biles and Stacey Breezeel, landscape architect Brantley Snipes, and graphic designer Will Staley who share the ingredients of a successful collaborative design approach, including a “secret ingredient” that every town can bake into their recipe for revitalization. All four points of the Main Street Approach will be illustrated in the success of this project, inspiring attendees to pursue similar objectives in their hometowns.

The Path Toward Sustainability
Josh Davenport, co-founder and CEO
Heather Nelson, co-founder and president
Chris Flores, EVC project manager, Seal Solar
The Innovation Hub
204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR

From solar to electric vehicles, the transition to a more sustainable environment is happening across America, including our downtowns. This session will focus on how leaders are using grants, power purchase agreements and innovative financing to take advantage of these advance technologies.  

Who Cares about Bylaws? When Change Needs to Happen!
Donna Harris, Heritage Consulting
Laman Library - Argenta Branch
420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Downtown organizations avoid revising their bylaws - unless it is absolutely necessary! Learn from two Main Street organizations in Arkansas that took on the task because their organizations were facing new realities. After a brief overview about the why of non-profit bylaws, our panelists will share why they took it on, who was involved, if any controversies arose and what it means to have up-to-date bylaws. The session will end with a discussion by panel members and attendees.

 


 


9:45 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Break

 


 


10:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.
Concurrent Sessions 

Main Street: Not Just a Collection of Facades but an Urban EcosystemStephen Luoni, director of the University of Arkansas Community Design Center
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

As an economic, cultural and social center of American cities, Main Street manifests a unique anchoring function reliant on nested patterns in which the solution at one scale affects those at neighboring scales. Sometimes, reinvention of Main Street requires a focus on the redevelopment of surrounding urban fabric, while in other cases a retrofit of Main Street buildings and streetscapes should be the primary emphasis. Two Arkansas case studies demonstrate each scenario in the notion of Main Street as an ecosystem.

So the Garden Club Got a Grant
Brantley Snipes, Brantley Snipes Landscape + Design
The Innovation Hub
204 E. Fourth St., North Little Rock, AR

But who’s going to water, weed and maintain?  Let’s develop some comprehensive community guidelines so that landscaping can be used to enhance place, not become a vehicle to drive the Main Street director out of town. A comprehensive approach to community landscaping is more than just planting containers downtown using this season’s grant money. A comprehensive approach looks long-term and holistically at design, maintenance and sustainability. It includes tasks, such as developing your local plant palette, a maintenance schedule, a budget and understanding the mechanics of what makes great landscape design in your community. These tasks may seem like a foreign language, but each one will be broken down during this presentation into a step-by-step format that is easy to digest and easy to implement in your town.  

Turning Supporters into Donors: Increasing Financial Sustainability
Donna Harris, Heritage Consulting
Laman Library - Argenta Branch
420 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

Learn how you can plan and implement a 12-step/12-week community-wide fundraising campaign that will convert casual supporters into ready donors. We will show how to use your board and volunteers to ask residents, shoppers, social media fans and local businesses to financially support your program. While we emphasize one-on-one fundraising, we also show how you can solicit your social media fans and downtown shoppers for support. 

 


 

 

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Closing Plenary – The Wit and Wisdom of Ben Muldrow
Argenta Community Theater
405 Main St., North Little Rock, AR

As we close out Destination Downtown 2022, you will not want to miss this inspiring final session featuring Ben Muldrow. We guarantee that you will head for home feeling energized and inspired!