River Market neighborhood business people, primarily from along Clinton Avenue, continue to gather supporters in their fight to stop the City Board from renaming East Third Street as River Market Avenue.
Mary Ann Harrington of Ten Thousand Villages, the gift shop, provided a letter that many have signed.
As community members, businesspeople and property owners who will be directly affected by the proposed name change of 3rd Street to River Market Avenue, we would like to clearly voice our adamant opposition to this proposal. Our concern is that, rather than expanding the River Market area and benefiting currently outlying businesses, the change will instead divide a small but thriving community and frustrate the visitors who help keep that community alive.
Any wise businessperson knows that a brand is only as useful as the consumer’s ability to identify the product behind it. Little Rock is not a difficult city to navigate, but this name change has the potential only to confuse tourists attracted by hotspots like the Clinton Library and Heifer International’s headquarters. Driving in from I-30, the massive “RIVER MARKET” sign denotes that area to those unfamiliar with our fair city. Imagine the frustration as tourists who seek the River Market district find themselves two blocks further south on a street called River Market Avenue, a street that currently houses only a few businesses and, as has been noted, borders neither the river nor a market. If the River Market brand loses some of its meaning in this way, we wouldn’t be surprised if merchants (particularly on President Clinton Ave.) become reticent to use the brand in their advertising. After all, the River Market name belongs to everyone in this district.
Our intention is not to detract from anyone else’s business. Given ample time, we would love nothing more than to see the expansion of the River Market district, but not at the expense of common sense. Unfortunately, downtown Little Rock currently faces large obstacles that cannot be overcome by a mere street name change, namely the lack of lighting and the fact that the Cantrell/Markham St. exit interrupts pedestrian flow between 2nd and 3rd Streets.
We respectfully urge Mayor Mark Stodola and the Little Rock Board of Directors to consider the rationale of the many, rather than the well-intentioned but misguided ideas of a vocal few. It is our understanding that the proposed name change constitutes an honest attempt to bolster a few businesses bordering the River Market district. However, we fear what is being hailed as a unification of this area will actually come at a massive cost—the division of a district that is only beginning to realize its potential in downtown Little Rock.
Concerned Friends of the River Market