Re-Live Downtown Pine Bluff

Re-Live Downtown Pine Bluff, University of Arkansas Community Design Center

For every American downtown undergoing gentrification, ten are shrinking. 'Re-Live Downtown Pine Bluff' is a housing-first downtown revitalization plan for America’s second-fastest shrinking city. Once one of the Mississippi Delta’s legacy downtowns, Pine Bluff was a wealthy manufacturing, agricultural processing, and cultural center. Its peak of 57,400 residents in 1970 has fallen to an estimated low near 42,000 while 31 percent of the City’s population lives below poverty level. Because weak market cities like Pine Bluff are resource-constrained environments lacking investor interest, planning assigns degrees of urgency around functioning assets in a kind of planning triage. Using “acupunctural logic”, start-up neighborhoods are developed around seven downtown “centers of strength” to stimulate a pioneer phase of re-investment. The Framework Plan targets, bundles, and sequences public-sector led development in a designated core to stimulate subsequent market investment throughout the larger downtown. More than 400 units of affordable walk-up multifamily housing, some including micro-apartments, multigenerational, shared living, and congregate housing, are built around neighborhood spaces. This distributed network of catalytic nodes—a shared street, a lakefront wharf, an ArtWalk celebrating the City’s Blues and Jazz musical legacy, hillocks, and residential greens—adds value to housing and further distinguishes the gridiron plan. The Plan devises a taxonomy of 28 contemporary walk-up prototypes for this small-town urbanism, ranging between Accessory units and a 12-plex, compatible with Pine Bluff’s brick-building tradition. The Plan foregrounds urbanism in reshaping public policy and permitting processes buttressed by public asset management instruments to reignite market interest.