SPRINGDALE (KFSM) -- Like pretty much everywhere in Northwest Arkansas, Springdale is growing fast. Since 2010, the population is up more than 10 percent to almost 80,000 people. And that’s why private investors and local groups are working to get that foot traffic into downtown with new projects and plans to revitalize the community.
“I want this to be a jaw-dropping experience when people walk in the front door," Tom Lundstrum said, The Apollo on Emma investor.
If you grew up in Springdale like Tom Lundstrum, you remember the old Apollo Theater. It doesn’t look like much right now, but he and his partner Brian Moore are transforming the historic landmark into a new 3,300-square foot event space.
"This is going to be like nothing else in the city of Springdale. I would say this will be like nothing else with the possible exception of Crystal Bridges in Northwest Arkansas," said Lundstrum.
As he gave 5NEWS Anchor Erika Thomas a tour of the construction site, Lundstrum described the design as lavish and ornate - straight out of Las Vegas - and he said he wants to set the bar high.
“Being at this end of the street, we will be the anchor for the west end of the street. We are the most iconic facility on Emma Avenue. People know it when you say the Apollo Theater. So in my mind, the Apollo has to set the standard for all of the development that precedes it," said Lundstrum.
On the outside, a new facade will be paid for in part by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation awarded in May 2017. The Apollo and six other businesses on Emma Avenue will get money for an architect to design the new facades and up to $10,000 in matching funds to pay for the work. Here are the seven businesses, according to the Downtown Springdale Alliance:
- Black Bear Holdings (Cellar Door Antique Shop)
- Restore Springdale (The Apollo on Emma)
- Windshield LLC (117 Create)
- Progressive Ventures (Earthplan Design Alternatives)
- Tim and Sandy Hurd (Fair Trade store)
- Black Apple Crossing
- Clinton Bell and Brent Obama (vacant building)
“It’s private money spurring private development. We’re not looking for tax money, we’re not taking tax money,” said Lundstrum.
"It’ll be a very visible sign of all the good things that are happening," Kelly Syer said, Downtown Springdale Alliance Executive Director.
Kelly Syer is the new executive director for DSA. She says the facade work and all projects moving forward will meet the city’s newly-adopted “form-based code” to create a sense of cohesion.
"It won’t take away the individualism of those buildings but it’ll just ensure that they have the consistent look that we’re hoping to achieve," said Syer.
Another big investment in the area is on the east end of Emma Avenue where Tyson Foods is building new office space. DSA said by the end of the year, about 300 employees will go to work there.
"I feel like we’re about to really ride a wave in this area!” said Syer.
Lundstrum agrees and said he hopes investing in Emma Avenue will make downtown Springdale a destination in Northwest Arkansas.
The Apollo on Emma’s grand opening is set for Thursday, August 17, and Lundstrum is promising some big surprises. Until then, he’s closing the doors so no one can see any of the interior finishes.
To purchase tickets for the grand opening, click here.