What's new or coming soon to SoMa in Little Rock 

Shopping, mixed-use development and more.

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The biggest news in the South Main's Southside Main Street Project — which we all know as SoMa — is developer Matt Foster's plan to build a $4.4 million retail and residential center at the northwest corner of 15th and Main streets.

The two-story, 22,000-square-foot development will include seven retail spots on the ground floor and five condominiums on the second. Though the project will be the first major new construction to come to the historic neighborhood in years, Foster, owner of MWF Construction LLC, says the idea is to "continue the vibe and feel of the SoMa district" with local, small business retail tenants. The condos will range in size from 1,500 to 2,850 square feet.

Foster has preliminary plans and has received Capitol Zoning District approval with no stipulation for the yet-to-be-named development. He's waiting for final architectural plans and final funding from banks. He hopes to begin construction this year. Here are some other businesses that have opened in SoMa in the past few years:

click to enlarge GET TRAPPED: In a new "escape room" on South Main. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • GET TRAPPED: In a new "escape room" on South Main.

The Escape
1214 S. Main St.

If you are not claustrophobic and like to show off your observational and puzzle-solving skills, you might want to think your way out of one of the four locked rooms of The Escape. The business located to SoMa in 2016, Manager Aron Daughety says, "because it's a really cool connected area" with lots of foot traffic. The key — figuratively speaking — to escaping the rooms, each of which has a storyline, is good communication skills, Daughety said, which makes it a good team-building event for businesses.

click to enlarge SPIRITED DESIGN: Tiffany Fagaly shows off a T-shirt printed at Electric Ghost. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • SPIRITED DESIGN: Tiffany Fagaly shows off a T-shirt printed at Electric Ghost.

Electric Ghost
1218 S. Main St.

You might not guess with a glance at the small retail space with the funny name in SoMa that it fronts a busy screen-printing business. Brooks Tipton moved his screen-printing operations to SoMa in 2016; a tour of the back of this 1930 storefront, where you'll see master printmaker Caleb Pritchett pulling prints by hand and other great tools of the trade, makes for great entertainment, as well as appreciation of the process.

click to enlarge ON FIRE: A 2016 blaze forced Midtown to close. Rebuilding just begun. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • ON FIRE: A 2016 blaze forced Midtown to close. Rebuilding just begun.

Midtown Billiards
1316 Main St.

Last September, SoMa's venerable watering hole — a favorite of the service industry and once named one of the best bars in America by Esquire magazine — was gutted by a fire that started when an appliance malfunctioned. Just last week, the business got all its permits to begin rebuilding, owner Maggie Hinson said, and work was to begin this week. Hinson will return Midtown to its original look, though with a new bar and benches. "My customers will take care" of returning the new construction to its original condition, she added. She's aiming for a March reopening, but acknowledged that it's anyone's guess when construction will be complete.

click to enlarge PATIO DINING: At Raduno in SoMa. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • PATIO DINING: At Raduno in SoMa.

Raduno Brick Oven & Barroom
1318 Main St.

Raduno, or RAD UNO on its street sign, opened in February 2015 in a remodeled storefront in the Joseph Jung/G.P. Kordsmeir building and has been serving Neapolitan-style pizzas to good crowds since. The crowds are good enough, in fact, that in 2016 the restaurant built a patio to accommodate several tables on the sidewalk in front of the business and the city built a sidewalk around it.

click to enlarge TWO-IN-ONE: Sweet Home Furnishing and Clement share space at 1324 S. Main. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • TWO-IN-ONE: Sweet Home Furnishing and Clement share space at 1324 S. Main.

Sweet Home Furnishings/Clement
1324 S. Main St.

When the owners of this antique store — which is actually two stores combined — lost their lease in Hillcrest, they decided to move to another place with a neighborhood feel: SoMa. SoMa godmother Anita Davis let them know about a building that Cassie Toro had bought and restored, and John Bell (Sweet Home Furnishings) and Chris Clement (Clement) swept right in. When Toro removed the metal façade from the old Lendermon Paint Co., she uncovered the glass tile art deco design over the front door, which faces diagonally across the intersection of 14th and Main. Just right for an antique store, now in its third year in the neighborhood.

Around the corner, in the rear of the Sweet Home building, Arkansas Wellness Professionals plans to open Spark Fit Community, a workout space for adults and children in June in the space formerly occupied by Krav Maga. Glenn McCracken and his wife, Kecia, operate Arkansas Wellness, which will offer personal training, pilates classes and yoga classes in the 3,300-square-foot space in back of Sweet Home Furnishings/Clement. They'll remodel first, hold a summer program and after Labor Day have a full class schedule set.

Moxy Modern Mercantile
1419 S. Main St.

Lara Kahler opened Moxy Mercantile, a store that sells vintage and vintage-inspired items (like old records and dog-butt refrigerator magnets and kitchen linens and stationery), when space became available on the first floor of the Bernice Apartments three years ago. Flanked by the Bernice Garden, created by SoMa godmother Anita Davis, on the north and Boulevard Bread Co. on the south, Moxy looks forward to catching Mardi Gras beads thrown from the balcony of Matt Foster's development planned for across the street.

Loblolly Creamery
1423 S. Main St.

Sally Mengel's homemade ice cream company, now inside the Green Corner Store, will open its own parlor next door in the space formerly occupied by the StudioMain design collaborative.

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The Root Cafe
1500 S. Main St.

The Root Cafe has been around since 2011, but until November 2016, eating there meant standing in a long line with fingers crossed that you'd be able to get one of the three tables inside the former Sweden Creme or on the patios outside. The Root took mercy on its many devotees last year and added shipping containers to expand the dining room and kitchen. The Root grows with all deliberate speed: It is offering Friday and Saturday evening meals and will expand that to Thursdays starting March 2 and Wednesdays starting March 15.

click to enlarge ANTIQUE MALL: South Main Creative opened at 1600 S. Main in 2015. - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • ANTIQUE MALL: South Main Creative opened at 1600 S. Main in 2015.

South Main Creative
1600 S. Main St.

A historic building that contributes to the South Main Street Commercial Historic District has been many things — grocery store, beauty shop, uniform supply store — and now it is, in a sense, all of that as South Main Creative antique mall, featuring booths of vintage items, antiques, jewelry, clothing and art. Valerie Wingert opened the mall in the 5,000-square-foot storefront in September 2015; the store now also offers classes in such crafts as needle felting, chalk painting, silk screening, mosaics and other D.I.Y. lessons.

Argenta Bead Co.
1608 S. Main St.

Ellie Roy, who has been in the bead biz for years and whose shop is said to be among the best in the country, is moving her store from North Little Rock to SoMa in March. Her move from Argenta was sped up by a car that lost control on North Little Rock's Main Street last December and smashed into her store, creating an enormous mess of thousands of beads, some of them precious, and broken glass. Out they went. The store, founded in 2000, will keep the Argenta name.



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