Neighborhood News: Downtown & Argenta

NEW DIGS

For all the neighborhoods in this corner of the city, there’s always something new in the works. Sometimes that means saying goodbye to another business, and sometimes it feels like a business sprouted out of the ground.

Just a few blocks of Argenta have seen multiple openings and closings in recent months. Bang-Up Betty’s gift shop closed its doors to return to online-only sales, but nearby, Vacant Places Sneakers & Streetwear opened on the ground floor in January, and the new Caverns & Forests Board Game Cafe now sits near the northern edge of Argenta.

Credit: Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage & Tourism

The Pettaway neighborhood also continues to grow. Since this time last year, the area east of Main Street and west of I-30 has added The Market at Pettaway every Sunday, L’Etoile Nail Salon and promised a future expansion for the popular Paper Hearts Bookstore, plus more. And because some of these spaces were designed as incubators to help small businesses get off the ground, this neighborhood always has something new in the works.

Credit: Jason Masters

In the East Village neighborhood, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s brand new headquarters are well on their way toward completion with the Stella Boyle Smith Music Center set to open this fall. As for big renovations, the Central Arkansas Library System has two on its 2024 calendar: the newly reopened Sue Cowan Williams Library in the Dunbar Neighborhood and the Main Library in the River Market due in 2025.

Also in the River Market, luxury streetwear brand Souq will soon open a brick-and-mortar location in the former KATV space at the corner of President Clinton Avenue and Rock Street. Mother-son duo Jenanne Filat and Naseem Hankir are behind the brand, which will be just one of the high-end designers featured at The Souq Project.

Credit: Jason Masters

Filat, who also owns gentlemen’s clothier Barakat Bespoke, describes The Souq Project as “the most fashionable, unique and influential concept store featuring carefully curated high fashion, custom items and rare finds.” The shop looks to open this month.

CORRIDOR CONSTRUCTION

Credit: Sydney Bryant

The Main Street Creative Corridor, which stretches from Third to Seventh streets, has some big projects in the works. Among the most notable is the “phase two” expansion of the Little Rock Tech Park into the six-story building next door to help grow even more startup businesses. Across the street, the all-but-abandoned Boyle Building is finally getting its chance to shine as the 12-story icon undergoes a $35 million renovation to house the Arkansas Attorney General’s office.

FOOD

East Village’s Sterling Market celebrated its first anniversary in March, and despite having only been open a few months, it also debuted The Alley last fall, a semi-outdoor space with a retractable roof that’s unlike anywhere else in town. Meanwhile, further west, Scoops Homemade Ice Cream, the popular sweet shop out of Hot Springs, has scooped up the space at Broadway and Third.

Credit: Abby Spicer

One thing that’s had longtime local foodies excited lately is the opening of the long-awaited Moody Brews taproom in Pettaway Square. Josiah Moody launched his beer label in the days of the Little Rock brewery boom, and though it was well loved, it has been largely off the Little Rock map in recent years. This space gives a proper home to Moody Brews and its often experimental flavors made with local ingredients, plus a new lineup of kid-friendly sodas.

In other brew-related changeups, Diamond Bear Brewing Co. spent last summer transforming its restaurant space into a second location for Ol’ Bart Southern Eats out of Conway, and it’s become a fast favorite in Argenta. The same can be said for Bread Cheese Wine, better known as BCW, whose menu won over the SoMa crowds when it opened in the fall.

Other new(ish) additions to the area include Tea Capital, Gold Bowl, Austin Fish & Seafood and a second Little Rock location of Big Bad Breakfast.

SAVE THE DATES

Nowhere in the metro keeps a busier calendar than Downtown and Argenta. Some of the biggest area events each year include:

SoMardi Gras
Barkus on Main
501 Fest
Pulaski County Fair
Main Street Food Truck Festival
Acansa Arts Festival of the South
Tinkerfest
Filmland
Festival of Darkness
Arkansas Cornbread Festival
World Cheese Dip Championship

Likewise, there are countless recurring events and series nearby including 2nd Friday Art Night downtown, Third Friday Art Walk in Argenta, multiple farmers markets, the return of the River Market Live and Argenta Vibe concerts during the fair-weather months and an endless supply of vintage and maker markets, the newest of which is the monthly Pocket Park Pop-Up, which made its debut last month in the Main Street Pocket Park.


Click here to see some of the local businesses that make the River Market, SoMa, East Village, Pettaway and Argenta so special.

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