Obstacles to Pulaski Tech Main Street move | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Obstacles to Pulaski Tech Main Street move

Posted By on Tue, Nov 22, 2011 at 1:30 PM

SOUTH CAMPUS: Current plans call for new culinary school here, on I-30.
  • SOUTH CAMPUS: Current plans call for new culinary school here, on I-30.
I mentioned over the weekend that Mayor Mark Stodola had made a pitch to the Pulaski Tech Board of Trustees last week to move the two-year college's growing culinary school to Main Street. The city proposed to buy a parking lot at Sixth and Main for the structure and there were some other proposed add-ons — free deck parking for students, a manufacturer's discount on kitchen equipment from financier Warren Stephens, and a contribution to the hospitality training portion of the program from the Peabody Hotel.

I've been calling around this week with a number of questions about the idea and have learned this much — a committee of the Tech Board has been appointed to study the offer and evaluate it within the next month. The first meaningful comparison will be with existing plans that call for a new building to be built for the culinary program, currently enrolling about 400, at the South campus on Interstate 30 near the Saline County line. It would be on the north side of the existing building, a converted former shopping mall.

City fathers, understandably, would like to put more people in downtown Little Rock. I think they see a cooking school as even something of a potential tourist attraction. It could be that, with a classy restaurant used to train students; an interesting building design, and perhaps even banquet facilities geared to existing (Arkansas Rep) and future (art galleries and such) neighborhood attractions.

Whatever else happens, I hope that the city establishment doesn't take its frequent heavy-handed approach and punish Pulaski Tech if the deal doesn't work out. Everyone should support the college's likely coming request for a property tax. Pulaski Tech needs it to support its rapid growth and keep tuition in reach for students. It's one of a handful of two-year colleges in Arkansas without a dedicated local revenue stream.

What could argue against a move of the culinary school? Well, first, Pulaski Tech has $15 million in the bank from a bond issue and the free land at its South campus to build a new school. Pulaski Tech builds utilitarian buildings, not palaces, to hold down student costs. It's not likely to depart from that proven formula. The land proposed downtown would require a multi-story building, with elevators. It likely would be more expensive to build than what's planned at the current campus. Staging of construction will be harder because of the lack of spare ground. Does the city, the Metrocentre Improvement District or the Little Rock Advertising and Promotion Commission have the means or desire to contribute more money to the project if the money Tech has on hand isn't enough?

Then there are the students. They'd be uprooted from an existing location. It's not clear they'd be better served by a downtown location, even if the parking deck promises to match their current free parking. Money for Central Arkansas Transit to add a bus route to that part of town HAS been budgeted for 2012, I was told yesterday by City Manager Bruce Moore. But that won't solve a new problem created by a new culinary school location. Those students don't take culinary courses exclusively. They also take other classes in the same South facility. A move of cooking classes would split their school day between two distant locations. It is, first, about students, isn't it?

Everyone is interested in moving quickly.

Tags: , , ,

Sign up for the Daily Update email

Comments (20)

Showing 1-20 of 20

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-20 of 20

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Where's the outrage?

    Am I the only person, apart from federal prosecutors, outraged about the criminal enterprise that inveigled itself into a privileged position as an Arkansas taxpayer-financed human services provider to the tune, today, of $43 million a year?
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Where's the outrage?

    • Jun 21, 2018
  • Rutledge opponent hits her socializing with corporate interests

    Mike Lee, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, has criticized Attorney General Leslie Rutledge over recent reports of her participation at private meetings where corporate interests make big contributions to a political group she heads for access to state legal officers.
    • Jun 21, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Campus gun bill clears committee

    The so-called compromise amendment that will allow anyone 25 or older with a training certificate carry a concealed weapon on public college campuses was approved in a Senate committee this afternoon.
    • Feb 21, 2017
  • Trump's strangulation of Obamacare

    If he can't kill it outright, Donald Trump will do all he can to cripple Obamacare. Vox has detailed reporting on deep cuts in federal spending that support nonprofit agencies that help people sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
    • Sep 18, 2017
  • Free Zinn book for Arkansas teachers

    Arkansas teachers! Get your free Howard Zinn book here! Whether Kim Hendren likes it or not.
    • Mar 3, 2017

Most Viewed

  • Proposed child holding site in Arkansas 5 miles from WWII Japanese-American internment camp

    One big difference between Rohwer and today: The parents kept at Rohwer in World War II weren't separated from their children.
  • Hucakbee interviews Trump

    In an interview with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee that aired last night on TBN, President Trump calls the reporting on how thin the nuclear agreement with North Korea is "treasonous" and suggests that the U.S. should stop providing aid to Honduras and other countries where immigrants are fleeing unspeakable violence in search of a better life.
  • Sunday line and an Arkansas movie trailer

    Here's an open line. And check out the new trailer for "Blaze," a new film by actor/director Ethan Hawke about the life of Blaze Folely, a cult singer/songwriter born in Arkansas.

Most Recent Comments



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation