We signed the lease on our much-anticipated temporary location last week (with potentially over 20,000 square feet, it will accommodate us for a couple of years while we complete our bigger permanent space). It was such a momentous occasion, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing support and enthusiasm we have received from the downtown Little Rock community! I have just been on cloud nine this week!
We are moving into 610 Main Street, also known as the S.H. Kress and Company Building, named after the five and dime store that originally inhabited it. It was designed by Cromwell and Ginocchio - the same Cromwell Architects still working in Little Rock - in 1943 to replace the original Kress building that was destroyed in a fire the year before. Our playground will move into a portion of what is currently a parking lot on the corner of 6th and Main Street, where we will house our raised bed garden as well as playground. I met with our farmer friend this afternoon and made grand plans for three forty-foot garden beds to house our vegetable garden, some flower planters, and some very fun and exciting ideas for sprucing up the front of the building with shade-tolerant plants.
The location is so fantastic, because, well, it's Main Street! The new Creative Corridor will give us access to the arts, which will play an important role in our curriculum. It is just the best time to be in this part of Little Rock, and we plan to get swept right up into the excitement of its revitalization. Our garden will bloom right along 6th Street with parking lots and steam grates and towering skyscrapers nearby (and perfect sun, no weeds, and lots of tender love by many hands!) Our students will laugh and scream and play amid what used to be the heart of our city, and soon will be again. We have families who walk, and others bike, to Urban Garden from their downtown homes. How wonderful is that? For others, easy access off the interstate will help the commute. Some of our students' parents work within blocks of the school.
And, as always, with lofty plans comes much work. Classes begin August 18th. Thankfully, the first floor (which is where we will be this first year) of the building is in excellent shape. We will be putting up a wall between the classrooms, installing a counter with sink and dishwasher, covering the storefront windows with a one-way film for privacy (still allowing lots of daylight in for students), and replacing toilets with smaller ones. We will be replacing door hardware, and installing security cameras and doorbells. We will be doing lots of scrubbing and washing and painting. In the garden, we will be building a fence around the playground, building a small toolshed, and building the raised beds (two out of three - the last will be built by the students after school starts). We will be putting a basketball hoop in and painting hopscotch and foursquare areas onto the playground.
Will you help us? If you can lend a Saturday or evening to clean or paint, or build, or haul, please let us know. If you have supplies, materials, or other items to donate, please let us know. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (501) 712-3185. If you are able to donate funds to help us, you may do so with a credit card here or mail a check to us at P.O. Box 250387, Little Rock, AR 72225. We are still raising funds to pay for our playground fence, garden, and bathroom/kitchen remodel, and every little bit helps!
Thank you! And thank you to everyone who has sent us encouraging messages, Facebook likes and comments, and shared in our excitement. We can't wait to welcome you into our doors with a great big Open House celebration this fall!
P.S. If you haven't, please join our mailing list and like us on Facebook to ensure you stay up to speed on our progress and upcoming events and announcements.