The Paint Factory, which was once home to the Stebbins and Roberts Paint Company, and later Sterling Paint, remains as one of the best examples of post-war industrial architecture left in the city. Throughout every stage of the renovation, Cromwell and its partners have been respectful of the existing identity of east Little Rock, its working class roots, and the residents and businesses that already call this area home. The community and existing businesses have been actively involved and engaged with the project and our vision for the neighborhood. It is our hope that this project will reconnect the East Village with the rest of downtown and ignite growth in an area of our city that has been neglected for too long. The rich history of the surrounding area and its industrial roots are what attracted us to the area in the first place. Inspiring change and fostering our city’s growth on all levels is in Cromwell's DNA as a company. It is the driving force behind everything we do.
East Little Rock, now known as Little Rock’s East Village, has always been an important part of the city but several factors caused an unintended decline for this area of town. Following the industrial resurgence after WWII, industrial companies moved south toward the Arkansas River Port in favor of larger properties and Little Rock’s growth was focused primarily towards the western part of the city. Later, the construction of Interstate 30 and I-630 effectively cut the area off from rest of downtown which resulted in further neglect. The expansion and renovation of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport also contributed to a decrease in the population of the surrounding neighborhoods.
These neighborhoods grew primarily out of the industrial job opportunities that were available in east Little Rock in the early 1900’s. During this time there were an increasing number of heavy industrial developments such as foundries, cotton mills, freight yards, lumber yards, brick yards, and furniture factories. The small worker housing developments replaced the farms and homesteads that were the first structures in the area. Most were concrete block homes that were a new approach to homebuilding during this era.
Despite the stagnation of growth over the past 70 years, several thriving businesses such as Darragh and AFCO Steel have called the East Village home for many years. In the early 2000’s, developments such as the Clinton Presidential Library and Heifer International paved the way to the early stages of renewed visibility to the area. In 2007, 10 homes built between 1906 and 1912 in Hangar Hill were listed on the National Register for Historic Places. Several local businesses such as Rock Town Distillery, Rebel Kettle Brewing, and Lost Forty spurred new growth in the past 5 years. Carver Magnet School, which was originally slated to close, announced in the spring of 2017 that it will remain open and a new charter school for k-8 for 1200 students is being built on Shall Street.