Argenta Plaza is officially the name for North Little Rock's future downtown location that Mayor Joe Smith has proposed to become a gathering place for all.
Smith recommended the name to the City Council on Monday evening in a letter, one week after an online selection from among six finalists heavily favored the Argenta Plaza name.
Construction of the $4 million public plaza is to start in April on Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets. The plaza is to open before the end of this year, Smith has said.
The Argenta Plaza preference didn't come as any surprise. The name has unofficially been attached to the project for years. The city's downtown is already known as Argenta, and Smith had said he preferred the project's branding to play off the Argenta name for marketing purposes.
"Considering the extensive branding and marketing that has been conducted for the past two decades by the Downtown Council, I am not surprised that our residents associate the new space with the Argenta name and location," Smith wrote to the City Council.
"The purpose of the project is to draw people into our city and create a thriving downtown that helps all of our neighborhoods to prosper," Smith said.
Council Member Debi Ross, though, said she had heard from some residents that "not everybody felt that Argenta included all of North Little Rock."
Smith replied that he is "real comfortable" with the name. During a public contest in the fall for residents to suggest names, submissions "often incorporated Argenta," Smith said.
"Downtown Argenta is unique in that it belongs to all of us," Smith said in his letter. "From Rose City to Amboy to Windsor Valley to Baring Cross. Downtown Argenta belongs to us all."
The public contest drew 108 name submissions. A committee led by the mayor narrowed those to six finalists. Argenta Plaza received 251 votes, or 41 percent of the final vote. Smith said he has also "personally heard from hundreds of our residents" about the naming.
The public vote wasn't to be the determining factor in the naming, but Smith favored the winning selection.
The resident who submitted the chosen name is to receive two passes for free admission to public events during the plaza's first year of operation. The winner will be named this week, Communications Director Nathan Hamilton said.
The city was known as Argenta from 1906-17 before being renamed North Little Rock. Downtown encompasses the Argenta Historic District and is also known for its Argenta Arts District and Argenta Entertainment District.
A conceptual design announced in September showed the plaza having a free-standing water wall, oxbow-shaped berms, jetted fountains and a "front porch" area facing Main Street.
Metro on 02/27/2018