A&P Commissioners approve final design for events center

Benton Advertising and Promotion Commission has approved the final schematic design for the Benton Events Center that voters approved in a November 2011 election.
The center is to built in Hickory Square, the area that includes Tinseltown movie theater.
The final design for the facility was approved in a commission meeting Monday night.
Gary James, executive director of the Benton Area Chamber of Commerce, said the floor plan has been "slightly enlarged from the original design so as to accommodate 10-by-10-foot booths for vendor space."
The chamber serves in an administrative role for the commission.
James noted that a typical convention could include the following:
•Three break-out rooms for small meetings.
•Space for 34 vendors.
•A banquet for 300 people.
However, the facility can accommodate an even larger banquet, James said. "Because of the design of the building, all individual areas could be put into one to accommodate a very large banquet of 750 or a lecture event of 1,000-1,100 people."
The facility reportedly includes a total space of 27,997 square feet and has 20-foot ceilings.
"Both the architectural firm and contracting company felt the need to have building that is appropriate for our suburban community," James said.
"The appearance has a warm and inviting look," he added. "It will have a large grand architectural lighted tower that can be seen across Interstate 30."
James pointed out that one addition to the original site plan is the construction of a plaza that would be suitable for holding outdoor weddings or other events.
"This will be located between the events center and the hotel," he said.
The commission is in negotiations with three hotel chains, but no formal contract has been signed with any.
James said hotel negotiations "are still continuing and an announcement will be forthcoming."
A groundbreaking ceremony for the center is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. July 3. City officials are encouraging "people of all ages to come out to this event," said Benton Alderman Steve Lee, who serves on the commission.
Construction of the facility is expected to begin soon after the July 3 ceremony.
Les Owens of the local architectural firm of Black, Corley, Owens and Hughes is overseeing the project. The contracting firm that will build the facility is CDI of Little Rock.
Financing for the events center is coming from the voter-approved bond issue that is backed by collection of the city's 1.5 percent A & P tax.
Serving on the A&P Commission are Mark Fikes, chairman; Naresh Patel, Jeff Stechman, Luke Moody, Tom Baxley, Alderman Kerry Murphy and Alderman Lee.