Starting from the top, in Argenta
North Little Rock’s Main Street revitalization got a head start on Little Rock’s, thanks to Argenta Community Development Corp., whose work to restore 100 houses in the historic neighborhood starting in 1993 and create a more stable residential area was a catalyst for Main Street improvements. The first floor of John Chandler’s handsome 19th century building at 425 Main St. — once condemned — became Ristorante Capeo in 2003; Greg Thompson Fine Art opened on the second floor in 2009. Thanks to the vision (and investment) of John Gaudin, Harold Tenenbaum and Greg Nabholz, the awakening on Main Street got a big boost in 2007, with the purchase of property that was to become Argenta Place restaurant and office building on the northwest corner of West Broadway and Main, the first new commercial/residential construction in eons. Gaudin and Tenenbaum, who own multiple parcels in Argenta, live on the upper floors of Argenta Place (“When I committed to Argenta, I committed,” Tenenbaum said.) Like dominoes, other Gaudin-Tenenbaum properties on Main got face lifts and new tenants: the THEA Foundation at 401 Main St. in 2008, Starving Artist Cafe in 2009, the Argenta Market in 2010, the Argenta Community Theater at 405 Main in 2011. Scott and Sonja Miller opened the Victorian-era Baker House as a bed and breakfast in 2007. Off Main, the Gaudin group built the City Grove Townhomes, a $3 million investment, and purchased the old Mountaire Feed factory property, whose offices they have refurbished for Art Connection, a program that helps place young artists in jobs. The Gaudin group developments represent an investment of around $18 million, with more planned.