Barraque Plaza to expand


The Barraque Street Plaza will be expanding during the next couple of months.

Robert Tucker, Inspection and Zoning Department director for the city of Pine Bluff, updated the Historic District Commission on the project at its regular monthly meeting Friday. The commission oversees historic districts in the downtown commercial area and Fifth Avenue residential neighborhood.

There is currently one red-orange awning that provides shade for the picnic tables that are part of the food court and outdoor community gathering place at Barraque Plaza. A second awning will be added in the next couple of months to the west of the existing one.

Work has begun, Tucker said, and city Street Department workers were at the site Friday. The addition is estimated to cost about $9,000 to $10,000, with funding coming from federal grants earmarked for downtown development and coming from the city Economic and Community Development Department.

The original part was completed in June 2011 and cost about $25,000, with funding coming from grants and donations.

In other business, the commission:

• Heard an update from Commissioner Jack Stradley and Tucker on the historic Saenger Theatre in the downtown district. The realty deal to transfer the property from Stradley’s nonprofit organization to the city of Pine Bluff officially closed on Monday, Stradley said. Construction on the flat part of the roof was completed in February, and now Tucker has applied for a grant to restore the slanted side parts of the roof and the chimney area. Stradley said the roof work has succeeded at stopping the leaks and the building is now dry on the inside. Tucker expects to hear back about the highly competitive grant in late May or early June.

• And heard an update from Tucker on the work to restore the interior to habitability at the historic Boone-Murphy House on Fourth Avenue. Tucker said there had been a slight setback in that thieves had broken into the building and stolen the newly installed electrical wiring. Tucker said the damage will be repaired and security at the site be improved. On a positive note, Tucker said that one of the goals of restoring the structure appears to be working: It has inspired other historic homeowners in the area to improve the appearance of their properties.