With some flair, North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith revealed on Monday a revised plan for downtown.
This time, it would be a plaza, as proposed before but now with some revisions.
Most notably what he called a “front porch” for the city along Main Street.
The street runs through the heart of North Little Rock and has been the focus of previous plans developed by then Mayor Patrick Henry Hays and Smith, when he served as the city’s director of commerce and government relations and as right-hand man to Hays.
The previous plan for the plaza was based on what Fort Worth, Texas and it still incorporates some of those elements, but with some refinements.
Developed by Taggart Architects and DLANDStudio, a firm out of Brooklyn, N..Y., the design incorporates the oxbow lakes that dot the city’s east side.
Those lakes were formed by changes in the channel of the Arkansas River and are represented by curvacious green spaces in what they are calling the plaza’s “back yard.”
That inspiration is also found in what the design team called a, “central interactive water feature” that would be lit at night and also be automated for children to play in.
“In my nearly 30 years of working for our city this is going to be the biggest economic development generator we have ever done,” Smith said. “We haven’t even broke ground yet and we have more than $40 million in pledged or recent development surrounding the
site, just because people know it’s coming.”
The proposed plaza is next to the North Little Rock History Commission, a building that was once the Argenta branch of the Laman Library, and its original tenant was a fire station.
The empty lot has been used for parking and has hosted a Farmers Market.
The cost of the development would be covered by the city government and funded by the sale of city-owned property over the last five years.
Other features of the plaza would include a stage and a screen wall that could show movies after dark or digital artwork.
The name of the proposed plaza has yet to be determined with Smith saying, “we want everyone to have an opportunity to help us name it.”
Details on how were not available as requests for clarification were not returned by deadline.