A guide to the East Village 

Sixth Street development is in the can.

click to enlarge IN THE PAINT FACTORY: The 12 Star Flats (sign on left) and a printing business are part of the Cromwell architectural firm's project with Moses Tucker.
  • IN THE PAINT FACTORY: The 12 Star Flats (sign on left) and a printing business are part of the Cromwell architectural firm's project with Moses Tucker.

You need a glossary to understand just what is coming to the East Village, the neighborhood east of Interstate 30 and north of Ninth Street. Two breweries — Rebel Kettle and Lost Forty — kicked off development here, and it's now identified by street flags on Sixth Street. So here it is:

The Paint Factory: The new home of Cromwell Architects Engineers at 1300 E. Sixth St., formerly the home of Stebbins and Roberts paint company, hence the name.

12 Star Flats: One- and two-bedroom apartments coming to the second floor of The Paint Factory.

The Mixing Room: A community and event room for rent to the public in The Paint Factory.

The Printshop: Just like it sounds, a retail printshop, in The Paint Factory.

Cathead's Diner: At 515 Shall (pronounced shawl) Ave., but really part of The Paint Factory, it's another enterprise whose purpose you don't have to guess at: It's a restaurant, operated by Donnie Ferneau and Kelli Marks.

The Bike Shop: Not a bike shop, but a 15,000-square-foot warehouse at 1212 E. Sixth St. being renovated by Cromwell Architects Engineers and Moses Tucker Real Estate to the tune of $1.5 million.

The Rail Yard: Not a rail yard, but a food truck and beer garden site. Located in The Bike Shop.

Count Porkula BBQ: Happily, just what it sounds like. Located in The Bike Shop.

eStem: The new elementary and junior high school that is part of the eStem Public Charter Schools Inc.

Now that you're oriented, let's start with The Rail Yard and Count Porkula in The Bike Shop (which used to house Ron King's Recycle Bikes for Kids refurbishing shop, now located at 717 E. 10th St. in North Little Rock).

click to enlarge COUNT PORKULA IS COMING: As is The Rail Yard, to The Bike Shop.
  • COUNT PORKULA IS COMING: As is The Rail Yard, to The Bike Shop.

The Bike Shop

Though it has a masculine-sounding name, The Rail Yard is a venture of three women — sisters-in-law Murry Newbern and Linda Newbern and their aunt, Virginia Young — who were inspired to create this outdoor venue that will feature food trucks in rotation. They got the idea for the business on a visit to the Texas Truck Yard in Dallas; they got the idea for the location when they attended a Downtown Little Rock Partnership pop-up party in the alley west of The Bike Shop, along the Union Pacific Railroad track. The decision by Count Porkula to locate in The Bike Shop sealed The Rail Yard deal, co-owner Murry Newbern said. The food trucks will surround a beer garden featuring craft beers; wine and cocktails will be served as well.

Dogs will be welcome at The Rail Yard, though they may have to be restrained to keep them from charging Count Porkula. Kelly Lovell and Walt Todd, owners of the Count's food truck, had been looking for a kitchen "to do more catering out of," Lovell said.

"It just kind of organically grew. ... It was just kind of a perfect fit" with The Rail Yard, he said. They hope to be smoking by the first of July.

Rock Town Distillery at Sixth and Shall streets is moving to SoMa, leaving empty a space that Dan Fowler, Cromwell's director of finance and business development, calls "amazing." Moses Tucker and Cromwell have not yet announced plans for what will go in the Rock Town space, but Fowler said they would have a couple of "exciting things" to say about the space in a few months

click to enlarge ARCHITECTS PLUS: Cathead's Diner will be on the first floor of The Paint Factory, which houses the Cromwell architectural firm.
  • ARCHITECTS PLUS: Cathead's Diner will be on the first floor of The Paint Factory, which houses the Cromwell architectural firm.

The Paint Factory

Now cross Shall Street to The Paint Factory, the new home of Cromwell Architects Engineers and other enterprises. There, whiskers willing, Cathead's Diner will open in May.

Donnie Ferneau (formerly of Ferneau, Ferneau's Good Food and the 1836 Club) will once more assume his chef's toque, this time to offer Southern dishes, both traditional and eccentric: His partner, baker Kelli Marks, said the menu should offer such things as "meat and three" plates, pulled pork, ribs, fried chicken and ... and donut sandwiches and biscuit nachos. Cathead's will serve brunch both on Saturday and Sunday, and Saturday's is being called the "Instagram Brunch," Marks said, because "it's going to be amazing things you're going to want to put on Instagram." Sunday brunch will be an all-you-can eat "hot line." Marks, who formerly operated Sweet Love Bakery, will be baking the biscuits and pastries for the farm-to-table, cafeteria-style operation. The entrance to Cathead's will be from Shall Street.

The Cromwell offices, The Mixing Room and The Print Shop will all be entered from Sixth Street. The Mixing Room will be a 900-square-foot meeting and event space for the community. It will be available for rent, but Cromwell will allow such groups as neighborhood associations to use it without charge. "The concept there is exchange and mixing of thoughts — advancing ideas and thoughts in the community," Fowler said. Its name references paint mixing; the room could be the birthplace of ideas as varied as the color spectrum.

The Print Shop will offer retail printing for such things as high-volume business printing, booklets and large-format items like posters and banners.

The 12 Star Flats, 16 apartments named for the best-selling paint of Stebbins and Roberts successor Sterling Paint, are on the second floor of The Paint Factory, with an entrance on Sixth. Fowler said the flats will be ready for occupation in mid-April, and that several have already been leased. Available are three two-bedroom, two-bath units and 13 one-bed, one-bath studios.

Fowler hopes to see more development in the area. "I think what really needs to follow on the heels of retail and office is a really great focus on the neighborhood to the east and south of our area," he said, including more housing. Some of that will come from Harbor Town, John Burkhalter's apartment development on the Arkansas River east of Heifer International.

click to enlarge OPENING IN JULY: eStem elementary and junior high schools.
  • OPENING IN JULY: eStem elementary and junior high schools.

eStem Elementary and Junior High School

EStem charter schools, with grades K-9 campuses on Third Street and Louisiana and 10-12 on the campus of UA Little Rock, will open a new elementary and a new junior high at 400 Shall St. in July, when the 2018-19 school year begins. WER Architects helped transform a 120,000-square-foot warehouse into the schools, which will serve 750 elementary students and 300 junior high school students at opening. Eventually, the schools will hold 850 elementary seats and 450 junior high school seats. The school received a Walton Family Foundation grant of $2 million to buy the Shall Street property. The total cost of the project is $30 million; eStem is using federal New Market Tax Credits and federal and state historic tax credits to finance the construction.
click to enlarge AT LAST, THE MARINA: A project many years in the works is close to opening.
  • AT LAST, THE MARINA: A project many years in the works is close to opening.

Rock City Yacht Club

It's been about 12 years in the works, but John Burkhalter's marina development on the Arkansas River, just east of Heifer International, is taking shape and will be open this summer, the engineer's spokesman said.

"The cat's out of the bag and we're full steam ahead," Chris Masingill said. "[We're] building a whole community down there. ... And it's connected to all the additional synergies downtown."

The Rock City Yacht Club, a public-private partnership that's taken myriad state and federal permits to build, will feature a four-acre park and public access ramp built by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, at least 158 boat slips and a dock store. A year or so down the road, Masingill said, Harbor Town — Burkhalter's name for the whole development — will include a luxury apartment complex called the Fountainbleau. "Every unit will have a view of the river," Masingill said; there will be a total of 176 two-bedroom "high-end" apartments in seven three- and four-story buildings. The apartment complex will feature a pool and clubhouse.

Massingill expects ground to be broken at the end of the summer or fall on the Fountainbleau. It sounds ambitious, but then so did the entire project.

At full build-out, there will be 258 slips, and boat rental will be available. A $1.3 million federal Clean Vessel Act and Boating Infrastructure grant was used to build the fueling dock. Game and Fish contributed $100,000.

"If you had told me nine years ago that I would just now be at this stage," Burkhalter told the Arkansas Times in 2015 as he gestured to the pipes and crane along the river, "I would have taken a pass." His estimated opening date then: summer 2016. It took two years more. The entrance to Harbor Town — on East Second Street (by way of Bond and Sixth streets) will be stunning, Masingill said: "A 60,000-pound anchor from a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier placed in the middle of a fountain — water jets shooting up all around it, lights flashing ... that's going to be the first thing that people see when they come into the marina," he said.

A 2,000-square-foot, full-service dock store will service boats. A restaurant adjacent to the dock store will open after the residential development is complete.


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