Conway awarded grant to develop city-wide historic preservation plan

Local News

CONWAY, Ark. (News release) — The City of Conway has been awarded a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, a division of the Department of Arkansas Heritage, to develop a city-wide, streamlined historic preservation plan for the Conway Planning and Development Department and the Conway Historic Commission.

Planning and development director James Walden believes the impact of a city-wide plan will be felt for years to come.

Historic preservation is critical to ensuring future generations understand the Conway story and can see that history represented in the buildings throughout our community,” explained Walden. “And while these efforts foster that connection to our history and community pride, there are also tangible economic benefits to the community and property owners when our downtown and historic neighborhoods are vibrant.”

The Old Conway Design Overlay and Robinson Historic District regulations have been successful in revitalizing much of Conway’s oldest neighborhoods. The Conway Historic Preservation Plan will allow us to engage with the community and stakeholders to see what steps Conway can take to further support redevelopment and preservation of the community’s historic areas.

Levi Hill, assistant director of planning and development, added that historic districts add value for property owners.

“Statistics show that homes in historic districts have a higher re-sale value than houses not located within historic districts.”

Objectives

The Conway Historic Preservation Plan will be important to guiding and determining the direction of the Historic District Commission and preservation projects for Conway. While the request for proposals will provide flexibility to respondents in providing a project scope and approach, the project goal will be to accomplish the four primary objectives.

  1. Preserve Vision & Goals
  2. Identify & Prioritize Future Projects
  3. Evaluate Regulatory Structure
  4. Encourage Community Engagement

Preservation Vision & Goals

The community engagement process will be critical to establishing the city’s preservation vision and goals. These will be provide a framework through which the city can prioritize future Historic District Commission projects as well as answer the question of “what” the city is working to achieve through the work of its Historic District Commission. The vision and goals will also be included and used to inform future city comprehensive planning efforts and small-area plans throughout the city.

Identify & Prioritize Future Projects

With new membership and staff on the Historic District Commission, now is an appropriate time to identify and prioritize future projects of the Historic District Commission. Dialogue and engagement is needed to determine questions such as “Should the Historic District Commission pursue the creation of design standards in certain local districts?” or “Should the Historic District Commission the creation of sensitively design pre-approved house plans for new construction for its historic overlay?” This task will be critical to answering those question and others.

Evaluate Regulatory Structure

Once a vision and goals are establish it will be important to assess the effectiveness and appropriateness of the Historic District Commission‘s regulatory structure in meeting those goals. As such, the plan will use the vision and goals as a framework for guiding engagement around discussion of questions such as “Should the Downtown Commercial Historic District be governed as a local district instead of a historic zoning design overlay?” or “How can the Historic District Commission preservation goals be further integrated into the city’s land use regulations?” This evaluation will also allow for prioritization of Historic District Commission projects in the plan.

Encourage Community Engagement

Chief among these objectives is the aspect of community engagement. The city desires public engagement of both stakeholder groups such as local residents, Conway Downtown Partnership, or Conway Central Business Improvement District Commission as well as a larger base of the community. Garnering support for preservation is critical to ensuring future Historic District Commission efforts are successful. As such community engagement within the plan will focus on education of participants as well as input.

Costs

This project is estimated to cost $50,000. This estimate is based upon budgets provided for previous projects (Little Rock – $50,000; Garden City, KS, – $35,000).

The City of Conway will match our request for $25,000 with a cash and in-kind match of up to $26,730.40.

  • Cash – $25,000 – The Conway City Council voted unanimously to allocate up to $25,000 from the general fund as a dollar for dollar match of the amount awarded. This request was approved on February 12. 2019.
  • In-kind – $1,730.40 – This match represents 40 hours of staff time for the Historic District Commission staff to administer and oversee the preparation of the Conway Historic Preservation Plan.

Given the number of existing and potential local districts and expanded purvey of the Historic District Commission, a budget in line with the work previously undertaken for the City of Little Rock is appropriate.

Timeline

This project should be completed by the middle of 2020.

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