Workmen are completing the final touches on the Rotary Club of Jonesboro Centennial Plaza in downtown Jonesboro, Rotary member Hatton Weeks said. A public groundbreaking ceremony is slated for Friday, April 26, and will begin at 4 p.m. When ground was broken on the project in May 2018, officials at the time said the hope was to have the project completed by August.
The Plaza will be used for open air events such as concerts, arts and crafts fairs and other activities. It’s adjacent from The Forum and it will be used to promote the arts in the downtown area.
After World War I ended, a group of Jonesboro citizens decided to open a Rotary chapter in the city. The new group met at the Hotel Noble at the confluence of Jackson and Union streets near downtown. These meetings were held at the hotel for more than 30 years.
Hotel Noble is gone, but the club partnered with the city of Jonesboro to build the plaza. When a club reaches 100 years, it’s common for that club to do a community gift, project Chairwoman Beverly Parker previously told Talk Business & Politics.
The plaza was projected to cost about $750,000 to build. The city of Jonesboro gave $255,000 worth of in-kind labor to help build the infrastructure. The club has raised about $50,000 of the estimated $300,000 it will need to finish the project. The rest of the cost was covered through in-kind labor and service contributions.
About three years ago, Rotary officials talked with different organizations, including the Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce, to determine what type of project would be beneficial to the city, Parker said. Downtown development has been a priority for several years and a plaza seemed like a logical fit, she said.
The plaza when completed will be multi-functional. During the day, it can serve as a farmer’s market and at night it will be able to serve as a venue for musical entertainment, and outdoor plays could be held there, Parker said. Arts and crafts events, movies in the park, “Alive After Five,” Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and other events could be held at the plaza, she said.
A section of the plaza will be called Harmony Park, and it will have several interactive art sculptures. These sculptures will serve as educational tools, and teach participants how to play and create music. Large awnings will be erected and there will be a section that pays homage to the city’s history and the club’s past. A replica of the entrance to The Noble Hotel will be re-created.