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November 24, 2017

Centennial Bank opts out of NLR plaza development


Centennial Bank opts out of NLR plaza development

Centennial Bank has ended its interest in anchoring development of a downtown block in North Little Rock that would have…


Centennial Bank has ended its interest in anchoring development of a downtown block in North Little Rock that would have complemented a city-owned plaza still in the works.

Bank officials had been considering buying from the city an 8,000-square-foot corner site at Main Street and Bishop Lindsey Avenue (Seventh Street) to relocate its Argenta branch from 305 E. Broadway. The bank had entered into a 120-day contract with the city in late April for a due diligence period to conduct a feasibility study.

The plaza, now a vacant lot fronting Main Street between Fifth and Sixth streets, is proposed by Mayor Joe Smith to be a “gathering place” for downtown Argenta residents and visitors. Estimated at $3 million, the plaza would include a water feature and specialty lighting. It is to be bordered by a restaurant on the north end; a three-story building with offices, stores and another eatery on its east side; and housing on nearby properties, according to preliminary concepts.

The proposed three-story Centennial Bank, though its plans were labeled as tentative from the start, would have been separate from the plaza’s development. But its size would have created a visual presence from up and down Main Street to help pull people to the plaza.

“We’ve opted not to pursue moving to that location,” said Gordon Silaski, regional president for Centennial Bank. “It does not have anything to do with the location itself. We’re very optimistic about the redevelopment of that area.”

New options for the bank include expanding or rebuilding at its present site near Verizon Arena, Silaski said. He oversees Centennial Bank locations in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Sherwood, Maumelle and Bryant.

“We’ve outgrown our present facility,” he said. “But we’ll likely stay at our current location.”

Silaski said he informed Smith last week of the decision. The time period for the option to buy expired late last month, though it’s not unusual for the city to informally extend time frames for such agreements.

The proposed price the bank would have paid the city was $11 per square foot or about $88,000, according to the previous agreement. The property is on the west side of the Rock Region Metro Trolley Barn.

“That property is back on the market,” Smith said, adding that “the market will drive” what new development could take up that corner.

The plaza and its adjacent development plans, he added, are “full steam ahead.” One nearby development seen as a big addition to downtown residency — the $16 million, 162-unit Thrive Argenta apartments — has begun construction between East Fourth and East Fifth streets and Poplar and Magnolia streets, one block off Main.

J. Chandler and Co., owned by Little Rock businessman John Chandler, is still involved in adjacent developments, as is Taggart Architects of North Little Rock, Smith said. Taggart, under contract with the city to supervise a team of consultants for the plaza’s design and development, is to move its offices into the building next to the plaza, Smith has said.

Smith has envisioned North Little Rock’s plaza as a mini version of Sundance Square Plaza, a popular destination in downtown Fort Worth. Smith led a group of about 50 people, including city employees, local business owners, architects and developers, to Fort Worth in August 2016 for a firsthand look at the plaza’s operation.

“Sometime soon we’ll unveil the plaza and show it to everybody and I think that’s going to generate a whole lot of interest [for the corner site],” Smith said. “Now with Thrive breaking ground, I don’t think it will stay empty for long.”

Metro on 09/16/2017


Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette Centennial Bank opts out of NLR plaza development

Centennial Bank opts out of NLR plaza development

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