Late January in Northwest Arkansas was magical. For several days, spring made a visit. The sun shone and temperatures reached the 70’s. It wasn’t just the weather that gave downtown Fayetteville a little extra spring in the step. Fayetteville’s First Family of Coffee, Arsaga’s Coffee Roasters, had opened their newest shop at Church and Center, joining MyPhones Unlimited and lululemon athletica in breathing life to a building which had sat nearly empty for several years.
The building at 200 W. Center was built in the 1940’s as the headquarters for Ozarks Electric Cooperative. Over the years, it served numerous small businesses, including attorneys, non-profits, and the area Boy Scouts Council. Two years ago, the building was largely vacant and deferred maintenance had taken its toll. A leaky roof plagued much of the main level of the building, and insulation was to 1940’s standards.
As we started the renovation, we invited Fayetteville to dream with us. We created a large display asking passers-by to complete the phrase “They should put a _______ here.” The responses ranged from practical to whimsical to downright funny.
Our renovation included a new roof, new glass in the original 1940’s windows, and the transformation of a formerly glassed-in room to an open-air porch featuring an elm counter built by Modus Shop. We brought the building up to 21st-century energy efficiency standards with all new spray foam insulation and a new HVAC system. In keeping with our indoor air quality pledge, we used no-VOC paints and allergen-free polished concrete floors. A revived landscape includes an edible herb garden outside Arsaga’s.
And those “They should put a _____ here” wishes? Many of them came true. Activewear boutique lululemon athletica invites shoppers to their showroom on the lower level. Fayetteville tech retailer and repair shop MyPhones Unlimited rescues ailing devices in their first floor shop, offices, and workroom. And everyone is welcome to stop for a moment and enjoy the new patio, the newest addition to the collection of vibrant public spaces that make up our downtown.