LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and
Heifer Project International's Global Village Educational Center,
both located in downtown Little Rock, are expected to open here
Although Bill and Hillary Clinton moved to New York, the former
president expects to open his center -- which will be situated
within a new 27-acre city park along the south bank of the Arkansas
River -- by spring of 2004.
The park area will be used for festivals, theatrical and musical
performances, urban fishing, picnicking, strolling and nature
The center, financed by donations to a foundation, will include
a Presidential Library and Archives.
The abandoned Rock Island Railroad Bridge, which spans the
Arkansas River, will be renovated and converted into a pedestrian
crossing linking North Little Rock and downtown Little Rock.
The historic Choctaw Station, built in 1899, will become the
site of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service
and Clinton Public Policy Institute.
Presidential Center's main building will contain 15,000 square feet
of space housing an orientation theater, exhibits, a hall for
banquets (seating 350) or forum use (seating 400), a cafe, gift
shop, media hall and classrooms.
The Archives structure will be linked to the main building and
contain the National Archives and Records Administration research
and storage facilities. Some 2 million photos, 100 million-plus
documents and 40,000 e-mails will be available.
Also, 75,000 works of art and artifacts will be available, most
likely rotated in temporary exhibits.
Heifer Project International is a Little Rock-based charity that
provides work and food animals as well as training and technical
assistance to residents of undeveloped countries to help make them
Its proposed Global Village Educational Center, expected to cost
up to $45 million to build, could open by late 2004, but is yet to
be fully funded. It will be situated near the River Market District
and near the Clinton complex.
Plans call for outdoor exhibits and habitats depicting the
group's work in Asia, Africa and Central America. Guatemala and
Tibet would be among nations featured.
It also would include a coffee-tea house, dining hall, an
amphitheater, conference rooms, museum space and a gift shop.
Little Rock hopes venues bring big growth
The new Clinton Center and Heifer Project International's Global
Village here will spur an increase in downtown hotel rooms, bolster
convention sales and create an international awareness of the city,
according to officials connected with both projects and local
The Little Rock area contains 8,400 rooms in hotels, motels and
bed-and-breakfasts, according to the Little Rock Convention &
Visitors Bureau -- with 1,200 located within walking distance of
both projects and 1,960 in North Little Rock.
Barry Travis, executive director of the bureau, said that
although hotel chains have inquired about building here, none have
yet committed to do so.
However, he expects that at least one new hotel with meeting
space will be added in the next few years as a direct result of the
Clinton and Heifer projects.
A bureau spokeswoman noted that there is plenty of land for new
hotels just east of Interstate 30 near the River Market District, a
dining-enter-tainment area. Both attractions also will help the
bureau expand its international tourism efforts, she said.
The bureau employs sales representatives who promote Little Rock
to travel agents and tour operators in Europe, Mexico and
Richard Davies, executive director of the Arkansas Department of
Parks & Tourism, predicted the Clinton and Heifer projects will
draw researchers, scientists, governmental officials, tourists and
"The greater impact, however, may come from the attractions'
effect on the convention and meeting business in Little Rock," he
said, "since downtown attendees are always looking to fill in free
Davies added that "the resulting visitation to these places
would overlap into other areas of Arkansas."
"Most of our visitors drive here, and you have about 200 miles
from Little Rock to the state border in almost any direction. Even
if folks fly in, they may take sidetrips to places like Hot Springs
utilizing rental cars," he explained.
The Department of Parks & Tourism will make both projects
part of the attractions database on its Web site, at www.arkansas.com.