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  • As printed in The Daily Record

School Building And Renovation In The Works

The big, exciting projects get a lot of press. There’s a lot of public relations, press release, pump-it-up stuff that goes along with the high-dollar, coming-soon, commercial real estate deals. Thing is, those are the four-leaf clovers. They are few and far between. Most transactions are pedantry. The unexciting deals are what provides most businesses a place to do businesses. The plain deals are what provide work to most general contractors and trades people. The average deals are the deals that keep most CRE practitioners fed.

Sometimes the dull deals actually take some imagination. One recent example, missed originally by your trusty columnist, is the sale and subsequent adaptive reuse of the 65th Street Shopping Center. This property sits on the southeast corner of 65th Street and Geyer Springs Road. That’s a hard corner, at a signal. It was built in 1969 and served as a shopping center for 40+ years. Economic obsolescence caught up to it. Last October it sold for $400,000. That’s a whopping $11.50 per square foot for the improvements, or $2.95 per square foot if you want to call it a land sale. So, what does one do with a nearly 50-year-old shopping center that no longer serves as a retail location? This buyer is converting it to a U-Haul self-storage and moving center, that’s what. The buyer at $400,000 was AMERCO Real Estate Company. AMERCO provides real estate and development services to the U-Haul System.

A couple of other transactions that seem bland at face value are the sales of the iPawn buildings on Rodney Parham Road and Baseline Road. These properties sold for $1,200,000 and $1,365,000, respectively. You might recall this column noting the addition on Baseline, next door to iPawn, of a CVS pharmacy. And since iPawn moved onto Rodney Parham Road, Starbucks opened across the street. It is cause and effect? Or is it insightful site selection? You call it.

Caddy-corner, or close by anyway, to the Rodney Parham Road iPawn is soon-to-come a Grady’s. Many of us are fans of Grady’s on 12th Street. This Rodney Parham location is reportedly an additional location, not a relocation. A Rodney Parham Road second location seems to be working for Homer’s. Here’s wishing Grady’s great success with the expansion.

Across Shackleford Road from this new Grady’s location is Parker Cadillac. This may have nothing to do with the next tidbit except for the family name, or it may have a substantial connection. We’ll see. Parker Lexus is located on South Shackleford, south of Kanis Road and near the intersection of Shackleford with I-430. There’s a zoning application in front of the City of Little Rock in the Parker Lexus name for a multi-phase automobile showroom, service building project. Three showrooms and three service buildings are proposed. Could it be that Parker Cadillac and Parker Audi might join Parker Lexus on the south end of Shackleford? Seems like every other automobile dealer in Little Rock is moving close to I-430. Most are down at the Colonel Glenn exit. Parker Lexus jumped out close to I-430 before it was fashionable. And has done well with the possibly trend-setting location.

This column has noted before the potential for additional investment and development along South Bowman Road. As this column goes to press, there is some hubbub brewing over one of the latest projects along South Bowman, near 36th Street. Some folks seem to think that theirs’ was the last home that should be built in the area. Watch and see if the City of Little Rock has the same pro-mixed-use stance for investments west of Interstate 430 as is promulgated for downtown Little Rock.

Well north on Bowman Road, just off the intersection with Chenal Parkway, LISA Academy is proposing a K-8 school at a location originally built as a 10-screen theater and currently used as a technical school. Somehow there seems to be some question as to whether or not a six-lane Chenal Parkway, a five-lane Bowman Road, and a three-lane Westhaven Drive will provide sufficient access to a property to be used as a charter school.

E-STEM has proposed a school near UALR. What with the plans for the new, yet-to-be-named, middle school at the ranch, new high school off Mablevale Pike, renovations at Catholic High School and proposed changes at Joe T. Robinson to name a few; it seems like a good time to be in the business of building and renovating schools.

Rewinding to a column from last year and activity along Pershing Boulevard at Main Street and Interstate 30, Murphy Oil purchased 2.8 acres (with a hotel on it) for $1,760,000. (By the way, Halter TV Service is just down the street and still fixes TVs—even flat screens—50+ years after opening.) The hotel will go, to make way for a Murphy Express. Presumably the freeway location will lend itself to redevelopment as a convenience store without great protests from surrounding property owners. The protestors of the Murphy location on Hwy. 10 can take satisfaction in the idea that no one goes to that store because it is too crowded. That’s noted with homage and apology to the late Yogi Berra.

Last, and certainly not least, is a nugget of hope for all the Maumellians. The Counts Massie Road extension is progressing and thanks to property owners along Vestal Boulevard chipping in no small amount of their own money, the opportunity to bypass much of the que along Maumelle Boulevard may soon be a reality. If by soon, of course, you mean several years.

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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