LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The area near South Main Street has long been praised as an emerging neighborhood. But now it is maturing in a way that should bring even more business to the southern part of downtown Little Rock.

Bernadette Compton and her parents were among the people who visited the brand-new Loblolly Creamery shop Wednesday evening.

“I love it. I mean, I went when they were at The Green Corner Store and kind of fell in love with it, and buy it at Whole Foods when I go over there,” she explained. “And so, it was one of those things that I’m glad that they were able to expand and have, you know, such a warm welcoming in the neighborhood.”

Loblolly moved out of its space inside The Green Corner Store to its own storefront one door down. That is among the many changes recently that have made the South Main area—known as SoMa—busier in the evening hours.

Midtown Billiards reopened a week ago after a fire shut it down for 10 months, and The Root Café recently extended dinner service to four nights a week. Loblolly is staying open later in its new location than it used to, to take advantage of the dinner crowds at The Root, Raduno Brick Over & Barroom, and South on Main.

“This is kind of a nice little area where, you know, this place, we would usually avoid,” Compton said, referring to the time before revitalization began. “But now it’s kind of, like, amazing. Like, you can go to Community Bakery and get coffee, and the go down to The Root and grab lunch, then come here and grab some dessert.”

The changes coincide with efforts from the local merchants’ association to keep neighbors from heading to other parts of town in the evening.

“They just did neighborhood lighting, so now when it gets dark, it’s fun to take a stroll down the street, and there’s just always a good vibe,” stated Jack Sundell, co-owner of The Root.

Three years ago, Southern Living Magazine called SoMa one of the next, great neighborhoods. New companies have continued opening since then, and Sundell sees lots more room for the business district to expand.

“In my mind,” he mentioned, “there’s a wonderful potential for a commercial corridor that could go all the way from [I-630] down to Roosevelt [Road].”

A planned apartment complex will bring even more people to the area, and could fuel growth on South Main for years to come.

“You really see it growing, and kind of being that neighborhood that you would expect in a big city,” Compton said.

Loblolly will have its official Grand Opening party on Sunday.