LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - The push continues to bring back Main Street in Downtown Little Rock.
We just showed you all the new development on South Main Street earlier this week. And starting next month on the north end, a $20 million rehab gets underway at the old Blass Department Store at 4th and Main.
A pair of developers, Moses Tucker and the Doyle Rogers Company, is behind this project and hoping to bring back some of that "heyday" folks enjoyed when this building thrived.
It's a snapshot of Little Rock Main Street history, bustling in the late 1950's with places like the Gus Blass Department store. It was advertised as Arkansas' "Largest and Best Store."
"It had a wonderful department store here on the Mezzanine, there was a tea room, there was just lots of things for everybody," Tommy Lasiter said.
Tommy Lasiter, CEO of the Doyle Rogers Company, recalls shopping there with his mom and today, "I had no idea that one of these days I would be walking on the second floor and being a part of something that's really going to make a difference on Main Street in downtown Little Rock."
Lasiter is one of the developers working on a $20 million rehab here. Office space will fill the old department store with retail on the ground floor, plus, "This room specifically is an apartment," Developer Chris Moses said, showing us around the building Wednesday.
Chris Moses, with Moses Tucker, showed us part of an adjacent building set for 19 lofts for rent. They're sprucing up the place vacant since the late 90's. A few banks occupied the building after the department store closed in 1972.
"I think it will be big, I think it will encourage other investors, you will start to see a whole lot more traffic here," Lasiter said.
"I think Main Street has been waiting for this kind of activity," Moses said.
It's activity to enjoy, like earlier generations did years ago.
Also in the cards here is a 400-car parking deck in the back of the building. The developers tell me that so far they've signed leases for most of the office space. One we know for sure is the State of Arkansas' Office of Child Support Enforcement. It plans to move more than 200 employees into the building.
Construction is expected to start the first week of July, likely with some demolition work. The goal is to finish in ten months.