In the early 1970’s, a trickle of young professionals began purchasing and renovating the affordable historic homes in the Governor’s Mansion District in downtown Little Rock. Due to the westward expansion of Little Rock, spot zoning was occurring downtown and the historic houses were being destroyed. One such home that became victim to spot zoning was 1801 Broadway. The neighborhood rallied and tried to purchase the home at asking price, only to have their offer rejected. The neighbors sadly watched as 1801 Broadway was razed in order to host a new 7/11 convenience store. The loss of this historic home inspired neighbors to create a neighborhood association that would focus on preserving the historic homes in downtown. Thus, the Broadway Neighborhood Association was born.
The Broadway Neighborhood Association fought City Hall on the issue of spot zoning and won. As a result, State Legislator and downtown resident, Robert Johnston, sponsored the legislation that created the Capitol Zoning District Commission.
In 1984, neighbors banded together again to form a more formal neighborhood association that would encompass all of downtown Little Rock. The new neighborhood association would focus on bringing neighbors together to increase positive growth in the area and aid in efforts to fight for preservation of downtown Little Rock’s historic structures.
On April 29th, 1984, a letter was released to the community to call residents to support these efforts and to attend the first meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Together, the neighborhood worked with related groups, such as the Quapaw Quarter Association, the Capitol Zoning District Commission, the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation, The MacArthur Park Historic District Commission, the Pettaway Neighborhood Association and the Dunbar Alumni Association, to halt loss of our heritage, to reverse decay of our buildings, and to attract families downtown to live, work, and play.
Thirty-one years later, downtown Little Rock has transformed itself into a vibrant place of young families, new residences, intriguing shops, and exciting community events – to one of the most popular venues for families and businesses in all of Little Rock. Just as our many historic homes have beautifully withstood the test of time, the DNA will continue to promote downtown Little Rock (from the Arkansas River to Roosevelt Road and from I-30 to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Dr.) as a wonderful place to live and work and to create the attractions that make urban life so enjoyable.