The Walton Family Foundation in Bentonville, Arkansas, has announced grants totaling $3.6 for five new projects aimed at enhancing downtowns and urban parks.
Awarded through the foundation's Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, which was launched in 2015 with the goal of elevating the quality of architectural and landscape design in Benton and Washington counties, grants were made to local governments and nonprofits for projects designed to enhance the livability of downtowns in the region.
Grant recipients include the City of Bentonville, which was awarded funding in support of a master plan and design for a "Quilt of Parks" that threads multiple downtown open spaces into a cohesive pedestrian experience; the City of Fayetteville, which will use the funds to design a series of open spaces within a twelve-acre "cultural arts corridor"; the City of Rogers, which will work to design and rebrand Frisco Park and the surrounding open space as part of the recently adopted Downtown Rogers Initiative Plan; and the Downtown Springdale Alliance, which will use the funds to jump-start implementation of its downtown master plan, including the expansion and renovation of Luther George Park. In addition, the foundation awarded $120,000 to the Community Development Corporation of Bentonville/Bella Vista to develop schematic designs for four auxiliary dwelling units in downtown Bentonville.
In addition to this year’s grantees, the Design Excellence Program has supported a new performing arts space for TheatreSquared; an adaptive reuse facility at the Rogers Historical Museum; a new facility and playground at the Helen R. Walton Children’s Enrichment Center; a municipal campus in downtown Springdale; a five-acre park in downtown Siloam Springs; and a new campus and landscape design for the Thaden School in Bentonville.
"The Design Excellence Program is focused on more than simply elevating design," said Walton's Home Region program director Karen Minkel. "It’s about creating spaces that improve livability and quality of life."