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click to enlarge BEST SHOPPING: Park Plaza and Midtown Little Rock.
  • BEST SHOPPING: Park Plaza and Midtown Little Rock.

Just a few years ago, it was hard to find many people who had much faith in the future of retail in midtown Little Rock. Dillard’s had announced it would build a store in a planned shopping center in Chenal, and rumors abounded that Park Plaza would shortly follow the way of University Mall.

Today, that seems, well, pretty ridiculous. Our readers’ two top choices for best shopping center this year were perennial winner Park Plaza by a hair over its newcomer neighbor, Midtowne Little Rock. That Chenal shopping center is just now beginning construction, and Dillard’s is apparently no longer among its planned tenants.

Park Plaza’s multimillion-dollar renovation breathed new life into the 19-year-old mall, and attracted a couple of high-profile new tenants. The open-air Midtowne, meanwhile, has brought in a host of national retailers that Central Arkansans have long known through catalogs and out-of-town trips — Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma, J. Jill and Ann Taylor Loft, Harold’s and White House/Black Market and Pei Wei Asian Diner — plus a couple of local boutiques. Our readers clearly like the mix, and don’t seem to mind braving the elements as they window shop.

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