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What’s the Donaghey deal?



Downtown boosters are curious about the future of the Donaghey Building at Main and Seventh streets, which has leased to only a handful of businesses in the past seven years. Fears the owner, Lake Hamilton Corp., has given up on a remodel are being fueled by Kyle/Rochelle Jewelers' required move from its sixth floor location to the ground floor. A manager at Kyle/Rochelle said the business was told there would no longer be power on the upper floors.

Lake Hamilton, led by Charles Hendrix of Hot Springs, owners since 2001, was never able to close a deal with Florida real estate developer Stephanie Smith, who in 2006 said she'd be turning the building into condos and did some demolition work before leaving Little Rock last year.

A manager at Kyle/Rochelle said he was still hearing a condo project might be in the works. Sharon Priest, director of the Downtown Partnership, whose efforts to get the Donaghey project off the ground included a push to provide parking to the building at the city's deck a block south, said she couldn't comment on the situation at the Donaghey. “I heard that people are being moved out,” she said. “One could infer” that owners were trying to cut expenses, she said.

Barack the Rock

Mike Huckabee and Hillary Clinton already have offices in Little Rock. Now a third candidate is coming to town: Barack Obama. His campaign will open an Arkansas headquarters at 1218 Main St. Saturday to welcome volunteers and begin phone banking. The open house will begin at 10 a.m.

According to Susan Carroll, who has been coordinating Obama meet-ups in Little Rock, grassroots efforts have already enlisted about 100 volunteers in the area. Tim Fraser, who was a regional field officer for Obama's New Hampshire campaign, will be in charge of the office. Fraser has also worked on campaigns for Sens. Tom Daschle and Sheldon Whitehouse.

Working the street

Good news for diners. The stepped-up cuisine at the remodeled Capital Hotel apparently has been noticed at the Peabody Hotel across the street.

This from our friend Chris Clement, who operates clement, the Hillcrest antique shop: “The Capital Hotel has clearly caused the Peabody to step up its game. The Capriccio Grill manager and one of the hotel's food and beverage managers are hoofing it up and down Kavanaugh in Hillcrest this morning to drum up business for the hotel. Going door to door in business suits, they stopped by my shop to make sure I knew about their wine dinners and to add me to their e-mail list. Judy, the food and beverage lady, assured me that I would love their new pastry chef from New Orleans. She said ‘They're doing everything in house now, and not bringing anything in anymore.'”

Time for lunch.

Whopper landed

The Los Angeles Times reports that presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has landed the endorsement of Ray Scott.

Who's Ray Scott? He founded the Bass Anglers Sportsman Society, supposedly the world's largest fishing organization and sponsor of mega-dollar bass fishing tournaments. Scott says he's “pumped” about bassing man Huckabee's candidacy. “I look forward to doing my part to see to it that Mike Huckabee becomes the next President of the United States,” he was quoted saying in the Times.

More reading material

A new business publication will hit Arkansas mailboxes around the first of February, says Jennifer Matthews Kidd of the Matthews Publishing Group. She's joined with Roby Brock, who started the on-line business news website Talk Business, to publish the Talk Business Quarterly.

The magazine will be mailed free to 25,000 “hand-selected” recipients, Kidd said. Trucker Steve Williams, agribusinessman Stanley Reed and real estate developer Jim Lindsey are on the cover of the first issue.

Hillary v. Huck

The new Talk Business Quarterly plans to stir interest in its publication with local opinion research, in partnership with Global Strategy Group.

The first issue polled more than 600 Arkansans in December on presidential prospects, particularly former Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

In the poll, 39 percent said they'd like to see Huckabee as the Republican nominee and 39 percent said they'd like to see Clinton as the Democratic nominee. Remaining preferences were widely split. Should the race come down to Clinton vs. Huckabee, respondents indicated they were in a statistical dead heat — 44-43 in favor of Clinton.

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