The revitalization of downtown Pine Bluff continued Thursday with the rededication of Barraque Plaza and its new roof shades. Strong winds ripped the sail-cloth shading canopy away in 2016, and the plaza had sat bare ever since.

“This would not have been done without the community support,” said Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc. Board President David Brown. “We have the Pine Bluff Arkansas Community Foundation, Fifty for the Future and the City of Pine Bluff all pulling together to enhance what we have here in Pine Bluff.”

The more than $30,000 project was funded by grants, according to Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc. Executive Director Joy Blankenship. The plaza was constructed in 2011 in partnership with the Pine Bluff/Jefferson County Clean and Beautiful Commission and the Pine Bluff Downtown Development, Inc.

“I look out here in the afternoon and people are sitting out here and in the mornings, too,” Blankenship said. “They enjoy their lunch or they are here waiting on somebody. It just gives me a great feeling.”

Blankenship hopes more residents take advantage of the space with the installation of the canopy shade cloth.

“I’ve heard that chess clubs have been here playing chess,” she said. “So that’s what we want. This is a public space for everybody.”

More work is expected to take place in downtown, which Blankenship touts will continue add to beautification in the city.

“We’re about to start our Streetscape project,” she said. “So we’re going to see great changes in our downtown and great changes for our community.”

Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr., a Pine Bluff Regional Chamber of Commerce red coat member, echoes the same sentiments of Brown and Blankenship.

“Obviously this place has been here for a while and it’s gone through some changes that lasted for a couple of years,” Woods said. “I think it’s good for downtown, and it adds to what they’re trying to do in terms of downtown development.”

Brown believes the Barraque Plaza will be a space for residents and visitors to enjoy the beauty of downtown.

“I think it’s a wonderful place to come and sit and enjoy the lake have your lunch,” Brown said.

“I know that people come to the lake and have lunch. Now, they can come here and eat in the shade. We can have food trucks, block parties or anything.”