Big Emma Groundbreaking Ceremony

Groundwork officially broke ground March 7 on the Big Emma affordable housing project, a 77-unit mixed income apartment development located on Emma Ave in Downtown Springdale.

Groundwork, in partnership with Community Development Northwest Arkansas and Buffalo Builders officially broke ground on the “Big Emma" attainable housing project on March 7, 2024.

The project, dubbed “Big Emma” by its planners, is a 77-unit mixed-income apartment development located on Emma Avenue in downtown Springdale. The investment from Groundwork ensures 30 of the units will be permanently reserved for households earning below the median income in Northwest Arkansas. The development of “Big Emma” is supported by a grant from the Walton Family Foundation.

“Today is an important day for Northwest Arkansas,” said Duke McLarty, Groundwork executive director. “Big Emma is Groundwork’s first attainable housing investment, and I applaud the City of Springdale for its forward-thinking vision and partnership to make this project a reality. The development of Big Emma will serve a model for municipalities across the region as they explore innovative strategies to promote more development of attainable housing in their cities.”

“Big Emma” is centrally located on the corner Emma Avenue and Park Street in Springdale. The development is in proximity and walkable to other important amenities like grocery stores, health clinics, pharmacies, and recreation opportunities like Luther George Park, the Razorback Regional Greenway and The Jones Center.

"Accessible housing is instrumental in providing stability for essential members of our community, including educators, health care professionals and other frontline workers," said Robert Burns, Walton Family Foundation Home Region Program director. “Big Emma’s groundbreaking marks a milestone for our community and is step toward ensuring that our region remains a thriving and welcoming home for all.”

Community Development Northwest Arkansas, a regional nonprofit housing developer, will develop and operate the project. The project was designed by BiLD architects and will be constructed by Buffalo Builders. Community Development Northwest Arkansas has decades of experience operating affordable housing projects according to federal program guidelines. Their proven capacity brings confidence that the project will operate sustainably and serve the intended population for the long term.

“We are excited to break ground on our first project in Washington County and hope it is the first of many,” said Casey Kleinhenz, CDNWA executive director. “The partnerships and funding strategies that we have used to deliver Big Emma will be replicable in future Northwest Arkansas affordable housing projects.”

The “Big Emma” development will encompass three buildings each with three stories that will include 57 one-bedroom apartments, and 20 two-bedrooms apartments, a green space picnic area, and two commercial spaces for lease. Construction on Big Emma is expected to be completed by Summer 2025.


About Northwest Arkansas Council

Founded in 1990 by Sam Walton, J.B. Hunt, Don Tyson and several other business leaders, the Northwest Arkansas Council serves as a regional convener for economic and community initiatives. The Council excels at identifying challenges and championing solutions to enhance the prosperity of the Northwest Arkansas region. Key initiatives include work to advance quality of life, attract talent, improve the region’s workforce, create job opportunities, upgrade infrastructure and keep up with the region’s impressive growth. For more information, visit 

About Groundwork

Groundwork is focused on addressing housing accessibility in Benton and Washington counties in Northwest Arkansas by creating a variety of well-designed housing options and mixed-income neighborhoods for the region’s workers and their families. Founded in 2021, Groundwork is being incubated at the Northwest Arkansas Council with the support from the Walton Family Foundation. Groundwork promotes and invests in housing development in proximity to employment centers, lifestyle amenities and services.

About Community Development NWA (CD-NWA)

Community Development NWA (CD-NWA) was founded in 1991 as an initiative of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce. Since that time, the nonprofit has grown to own/operate over 350 rental units with a focus on affordable, senior, workforce, and assisted living units. Operations center around the development of new units as well as the management of existing units. CD-NWA is committed to developing, preserving, and supporting quality, affordable housing and creating stable, mixed-income communities throughout NW Arkansas. For more information, visit