Recent land purchase delays Benton events center construction

By Emily Van Zandt Originally Published October 7, 2012 at 12:00 a.m.
Updated October 5, 2012 at 1:22 p.m.
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An artist’s rendering portrays the future events center for the city of Benton. Construction of the center has not yet begun. Benton Advertising and Promotion Commission officials said that a purchase of land adjacent to the site has delayed the project.

— A new land purchase is one of the factors that has delayed the beginning of construction of Benton’s new events center.

The Benton Advertising and Promotion Commission recently purchased a little more than an acre adjacent to the land for the center. The extra space will likely serve as a parking area, commission chairman Mark Fikes said. Though officials estimated construction to begin by mid-September, the land purchase contributed to the project’s delay.

Construction has still not begun on the Benton events center planned for an area along Interstate 30 near the Cinemark Tinseltown movie theater. A groundbreaking ceremony was held July 3 for the project, which was approved by voters in November 2011.

“All of the engineering and architecture work has been done, and a construction manager has been hired,” Fikes said.

Plans for a hotel at the center have also moved forward. The commission selected Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott from a pool of several interested chains to build on the site.

“We were very, very pleased with Marriott coming in,” Fikes said. “It confirmed what we thought — that Benton is an emerging market,

and things are beginning to change here.”

Benton architecture firm Black Corley Owens & Hughes, which was in charge of the design of the events center, is currently working on the hotel design. Marriott Hotels, the parent company of Fairfield Inn & Suites, already has designs for the franchises for developers to use, but some modifications have to be made, said Les Owens, Black Corley Owens & Hughes partner. Because the lot for the hotel is smaller than what is typically used for this type of building, the firm has reduced the number of rooms per floor and added a fourth story.

The finished hotel will hold around 80 rooms and include an indoor pool, Owens said. The firm has previously worked on several hotel projects in Benton.

A name for the events center has yet to be selected. The A&P commission intends to sell the naming rights to the center. While there has been some interest, the commission is not yet close to selecting a name, Fikes said.

Although Fikes had thought construction would have started by this point, he said the current delay should not affect the project’s overall completion date. The events center is scheduled to be completed by summer 2013.

Staff writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or evanzandt@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Emily Van Zandt can be reached at 501-399-3688 or emily@syncweekly.com.

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