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Redevelopment possibilities for a city block in North Little Rock's downtown will be marketed nationally with an aim to "take it up another notch" by drawing a major hotel and other projects to complement what's already downtown, developer Jimmy Moses told City Council members Monday evening.

"Argenta is beginning to look like Manhattan for Arkansas," said Moses, a partner with Little Rock's Newmark Moses Tucker real estate developers, referring to the city's arts and entertainment district. "I look at what's happening on this side of the [Arkansas] river and I just marvel at it."

Mayor Joe Smith has asked the company to market and explore redevelopment possibilities for about 5 acres of city property that includes the City Services Building, 120 Main St.; city attorney offices, 116 Main St.; and three adjoining city employee parking lots. More than 80 city employees from several departments would be relocated if the property is redeveloped.

The City Council agreed in February to allow the company to "plan, market and possibly develop" the properties at its own costs. Any development plan will have to go before the City Council for approval.

Smith said Monday that the whole block, including the privately owned Bank of America at the corner of Broadway and Main Street, would be subject to sell to the right buyer.

"Everything's available," Smith said.

Monday's presentation was to bring council members up to speed on "conceptually how we're approaching this assignment," Moses said.

The site will be promoted during the International Conference of Marketing, Tourism and Hospitality in Las Vegas from May 24-26, Smith said.

"We wanted you guys to see this before they take it on the street," Smith said. "We want to be able to present this to the masses out there."

Moses told council members that the site is situated "perfectly" between Verizon Arena and Dickey-Stephens Park baseball stadium, where the ideal "centerpiece of the development would be a significant hotel," to replace the City Services building, built in the 1960s. Private housing and retail shops could take up the remainder of the block.

Moses said his development team wants to "rethink [the site's] purpose and meaning to complement what's been done and take it up another notch."

"As to specifics, we want flexibility to market this site," Moses said. "We don't want to be so rigid in our concept. We will work hard on bringing a national developer in."

A boutique hotel envisioned, he said, would be in the $20 million range, with 75 to 150 rooms and a minimum 75-foot height and a restaurant. One feature would be a "rooftop environment" to offer views of the river, Little Rock's skyline and also North Little Rock's downtown, which is undergoing a transition north of the studied site, with construction underway of the Argenta Plaza, the five-story First Orion headquarters and the three-story 600 Main Building.

"This is a unique site," he said. "We can see in two to three years having a hotel sitting there."

The City Services building houses city departments for finance, planning, human resources and customer services, among others. North Little Rock bought the building in 1998 for $2.5 million to offer residents a "one-stop shop" for paying bills or doing city business. The city has spent about $855,000 on additions, repairs and fitness facilities for employees in the building during the past 18 years, according to city figures.

The city attorney's offices relocated from City Hall to its present location across an alley from City Services in June 2017. The city spent $99,536.99 for renovations to that building, including a new roof and security features.

Metro on 04/23/2019

Print Headline: Marketers to spotlight 5 North Little Rock acres


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