Date of Graduation

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geography (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Geosciences

Advisor

Fiona Davidson

Committee Member

John Gaber

Second Committee Member

Jason Tullis

Keywords

Crystal Bridges, Downtown Revitalization, Urban Change

Abstract

Bentonville started the process of downtown revitalization in 2007 after they passed a bond measure. However, research on the impacts of the revitalization and the factors associated with it is limited or focused for the private sector. This study identified Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as a catalyst for the process of downtown revitalization and aimed to fill the gap in urban development and economic opportunities that arose due to the museum.

Using the “Monitoring annual urban changes in a rapidly growing portion of Northwest Arkansas with a 20-year Landsat records” (Reynolds, Liang, Li, & Dennis, 2017) it is evident that Bentonville has experienced urban growth and the structure of the city has changed. Walmart is the driving economic factor in the city, but Crystal Bridges is providing Bentonville with an identity. The data from the Downtown vitality report and the U.S. Census data suggests that Bentonville has the largest number of people living (Center for Business and Economic Research, 2018). Also, the median household income has increased from $51,305 in 2009 to $76,447 in 2016, the highest increase in the region, allowing for the city to invest in new amenities, causing an increase in the number of businesses, mostly restaurants, in the downtown area.

According to interviews with the Chamber of Commerce and city officials related to planning and urban development during this process, the respondents claim that the city had begun the process of revitalization, but Crystal Bridges was the primary factor in this process. Furthermore, the museum provided business opportunities and visitors to the city which allowed for making a change to the downtown district and investing in more amenities to provide for the increasing number of the residents and visitors in the downtown area. Those findings suggest that indeed Crystal Bridges was the most crucial factor of the downtown revitalization process in Bentonville in the last decade.

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