The city of Little Rock received a letter today from MAPCO, the convenience store chain, that it was withdrawing its controversial application to build a unit at Third and Broadway.
The letter said the out-of-state family that owns the property had not extended its option on the property to allow for a three-month delay given at a City Board meeting July 1. The letter, a copy of which I expect to receive shortly, said MAPCO still hoped to find a downtown location for one of its stores. They include gas pumps and a store with some prepared food and typically operate 24 hours a day.
Opposition to the plan built after the Planning Commission approved it. Two delays of consideration of the matter by the City Board reflected strong resistance among the board. Mayor Mark Stodola had indicated to me last night that the project wasn’t likely to go forward, though he had not previously made a public statement on the proposal. The Downtown Little Rock Partnership and the Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods were among the opponents.
The withdrawal of the proposal takes a few directors off the hot seat. The idea lacked any sign of popular support, except from old-line real estate man Dickson Flake, working for MAPCO. But several had not yet expressed an opinion on the issue as it dragged on.
Pulaski County officials said they hoped, if the deal fell through, to talk to property owners about expanding county use of the property, a half block along Third between Broadway and Arch. The county, with an administration building across Broadway, has been leasing a former paint and body shop building on the property for parking. The major part of the parcel once was leased for a bank branch, but it is no longer in operation.
County officials objected to the plan because of fear of safety for employees. Traffic was a concern at what is a dangerous intersection. And some felt the development was out of place so close to historic government buildings and the under-renovation Robinson Auditorium.