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  • As printed in The Daily Record

Apartment Rentals On The Rise

Attention all DIYers. An application has been filed with the Little Rock Planning Commission for approval of a Lowe’s home improvement store next door to the Sam’s Club on South Bowman Road. If approved Lowe’s would occupy a good portion of the northwest corner of the intersection with Kanis Road. This same location was proposed for a Lowe’s store ten years or so ago. The proposal was not universally welcomed by the neighbors in the area and was burdened by multiple requirements on development of the site. This column noted last year that the parking lot at the Home Depot on Chenal Parkway was so full that it was hard to find a place to park. Perhaps there are enough customers for both the large retailers, and the smaller format hardware and home improvement stores.

As the South Bowman Road saga continues let’s review a little. It turns out that the City of Little Rock may not lend as much support to Greenfield development, even “near-west,” as to redevelopment downtown. A moratorium has been set for new development on South Bowman. A moratorium on development of new multi-unit housing has been commenced. However, the decision was made to not enforce the moratorium on projects already having made applications, and paid application fees, for approvals. The Little Rock Board of Directors heard a rezoning application that the Little Rock Planning Commission recently recommended for approval. Changes to the plan that were volunteered by the property owner as an effort to address concerns of area residents caused the Board of Directors to refer the application back to the Planning Commission. In the meantime, RentRange, a provider of market-level rental data for single- and multi-family properties reported that the Little Rock market saw an 11.4 percent increase (Yes, seems like a big jump to me too) in rental rates from 2014 to 2015. The reported driver for that increase was the relationship between supply of available housing and demand for the same.

Demand for multi-family housing has investors seeking to build new apartments. Given the apparent difficulties in being granted multi-family zoning, it would seem likely that owners of land already zoned for multi-family use might see a tick up in demand for their properties. A logical result might be that any potential for discounts on the cost of by-right-zoned sites might decrease, or even that the cost might increase. Increase in supply could possibly still result in increased rental rates if the cost of the supply rises. With higher land prices, it follows that the apartments constructed would be intended to capture rents in the high end of the market. What effects does that have versus construction of more modestly priced units?

Just a quick note here to recognize that the LaMarche connection between Chenal Valley Drive and Highway 10 is open. It will make some drives several minutes shorter. And when area residents collectively realize it is open and a good alternative to Taylor Loop/Rahling Road for many of them, we can expect the left-turn stacking at Highway 10 and Taylor loop to moderate, or maybe even diminish.

North Little Rock is getting another new restaurant in the McCain Mall area. On Warden Road, next door to Chuy’s, a Hideaway Pizza restaurant is planned. Word on the street is there is a demand for more restaurants in the area. There is demand for restaurant sites in Little Rock, too. Gateway Town Center is meeting some of that demand—although not all of it.

Hancock Fabrics stores in Little Rock and in North Little Rock are advertising “Store Closing” sales. Hancock Fabric has been operating approximately 250 stores. Seventy stores are proposed to close as part of a bankruptcy action. Both the Little Rock and North Little Rock locations are on the store closing list filed with the bankruptcy action.

In news from around the state, there’s a new Kroger-anchored shopping center proposed in Russellville at the Weir Road exit. A regional shopping center is proposed in Searcy, along US Hwy 67/167. It seems the developer has approached the City of Searcy with an idea for a public-private partnership with approximately $4,000,000 of work by the city. Those in the know make that to be a long-odds bet. Jonesboro has been mentioned here from time to time. Jonesboro didn’t seem in the past years to notice there was a recession in the United States. And now investment in the community and the surrounding area is white-hot. There’s a brand-new hospital and plans for the other to invest over $130 million in improvements, upgrades and so forth. Two convention centers are proposed, long-vacant properties are being renovated, rehabilitated and re-developed. One of those re-developments is Caraway Plaza. New owners of that center are looking to make a substantial investment and add new tenants to the existing line-up. Benton, Bryant, Cabot and Conway all have new retail developments that are proposed, planned or under construction.

Tips and suggestions, well most of them anyway, are appreciated. Hope you found something interesting in the column this month. Check back again next month for the things that didn’t get included here this time and that pop up between now and then.

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