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  • As printed in the Daily Record

Lowe's Officially Coming to Little Rock

Right after the column was submitted last month the announcement came out that Lowe's had closed on the land next to Sam’s Club. So now that project is underway. It’s been a long time coming. Folks can speculate on what took so long, and there are probably multiple reasons. Generally speaking, though, the easier deals get done first. And this one does not appear to have been easy, or cheap. The site consisted of five parcels purchased from three different sellers, including a small one from Sam’s Real Estate Business Trust. The five parcels totaled approximately 18.22 acres and the total sales price for all was recorded as $6,040,000. All in that’s just about $331,500 per acre, or close to $7.61 per square foot. And site work there won’t be cheap or easy either. Let’s just guess that there will be in the vicinity of $10 per square foot in that land before counting any building(s).

Other info that graduated from rumor to being reported as news includes a foreclosure action against the owners of Regions Center at 400 W. Capitol. I won’t re-hash it here. I’ll be keeping eyes and ears open though to see what comes of that. Owning high-rise office buildings in a market like downtown Little Rock is a tough row to hoe. Rents have been basically flat for 20+ years and expenses just keep climbing. Thank goodness for higher-efficiency lighting and HVAC or the energy costs would be twice or more what they are at some buildings. The spread between income and expense has been getting smaller and smaller for many buildings. Pro tip, when expenses are as great as costs it is tough to make a profit.

It seems like there are a lot of properties for sale right now. Folks are trying to take advantage of the rebound in the market from 5-6 years ago maybe. Without really trying, I found two-dozen retail properties for sale in Pulaski County for over $1,000,000. Some are much more than that. In the six-million-dollar-and-up range, there are the new Natural Grocer on Rodney Parham near Reservoir, the Riverdale Center on Cantrell at Riverfront Drive, and Westchase Plaza at the corner of Markham and Shackleford. And there are about a half-dozen each of convenience stores and dollar stores that are for sale. So, if you have a winning lottery ticket and you are itching to buy some retail properties, there’s a plethora of choices. There are a couple dozen-office buildings available for sale at over $1,000,000 too. The most notable is the aforementioned Regions Center. It is listed for sale at an even $40,000,000.

Arvest closed the branch at the corner of Markham Street and Bowman Road. Word is David’s Burgers is seeking to relocate from that corner. And if the restaurant does find a new venue from which to purvey burgers and fries, that corner may soon be home to a new drugstore. If this bears out, the price paid will be for the land and would be another very expensive West Markham Street corner lot.

Beauty Brands has been open at Park Avenue just about a year and has decided to follow the lead of Staples, just across the driveway, and put their building up for sublease. The suite that was once home to Radio Shack is now a popcorn shop. I don’t know how much popcorn has to be sold to pay the rent. I’m glad I’m not the person that has to find out. I don’t know how much fire-grilled fish has to be sold to pay the rent on Chenal Parkway either. The Boneheads restaurant that opened at the Promenade apparently didn’t sell enough of it though. They opened this spring and closed this fall. If you know anyone that wants a small restaurant location on the west side of Little Rock, you might point them in that direction. And in the small restaurant department, word is that Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers has started construction on McCain Blvd. in North Little Rock. This location is in The Home Depot parking lot. Another of the same was planned for Little Rock. It is either running well behind the north shore location, or the development hurdles got too expensive. I’ll keep watch on that proposed location.

Did you know that there is an Applebee’s on Mablevale Plaza Drive, sort of in front of The Home Depot? (Reminder, it is “The” Home Depot. Evelyn reminds me.) Anyway, apparently many people have forgotten. It is slated for closing. It joins the former Ryan’s Steakhouse and the former Dixie Café that have closed in that Baseline Road/Interstate 30/Mabelvale Pike neighborhood. Meanwhile, a mile or so down the road Taziki’s and Pie Five Pizza, are two of the most recent restaurants to be opening near the Outlets of Little Rock and Bass Pro Shops. Dave & Buster’s has been open about six months now. This column noted a few months ago that Chick-fil-A paid a pretty price to join David’s Burger’s over on the west side of the project. It looks like the place to get lunch or dinner in southwest Little Rock is going to be Exit 128 instead of Exit 130.

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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