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  • As seen in the Daily Record

Tonka Trucks And Firecrackers

Props first. The Little Rock Technology Park had the official ribbon-cutting ceremony last week. Dr. Mary Good, Dickson Flake, the whole Tech Park Authority Board, and a full complement of design professionals and contractors are deserving of your applause for turning a pig’s ear into a silk purse. (Clap here.) Having had the opportunity to see in-person both the “before” and the “after” of the Tech Park thus far, I speak to this first hand. Congratulations to all involved! Go have a cup of coffee in the first-floor coffee shop. See for yourself.

I challenge you to think of Little Rock public schools in 2017 as “before” and public schools in 2040 as “after." Do you want the “after” to be better than, or worse than, the “before?” Which brings economic development? Which helps create rising home prices? Which helps create more jobs and more demand for commercial real estate. If you answered “better than,” and you live in the Little Rock School District then you should put down your Daily Record and go to one of the five (5) early voting locations to vote on the proposed refinancing of the current bond issue. Despite having some concerns, I’m voting FOR the refinancing, and I encourage you to do the same. What is broken must be fixed. Successful public schools are one of the keys to economic success.

I have been asked 1,697-ish times “what’s happening where the hillside was cleared (or decimated) on Rahling Road?” So, finally something is happening. Deltic Timber sold just over 20 acres there to Estates of Chenal Valley, LLC. This LLC paid $3,100,000 for that tract. My public-school math puts that a little over $150,000 an acre, or over $3.50 per square foot for those who like to score it in smaller units. I’m thinking the buyer might not have paid over $3.50 psf if the site hadn’t been zoned and rough graded. That’s just me. What is Estates of Chenal Valley planning for this 20 acres you ask? They plan 240 units of multi-unit housing. I’m told construction should start in May.

Also out on the west side, a three-story adult senior living facility is proposed on Chenal Parkway, on the west side of the parkway and just south of Walmart. Odds-makers aren’t settled on this one yet. Best watch it all the way down the line. There’s been a recent surge in Chenal Valley of people who were opposed to a similar facility for grandparents. (Who doesn’t like grandparents?)

Along Chenal Parkway, at Wellington Hills Road, a new Kum and Go convenience store is proposed. The Little Rock Planning Commission may have recommended approval by the time you read it here. They may not. After all, who would put a convenience store at a busy signal-controlled intersection of arterial streets?

Winner for unexpected parking deck location is not the potential parking deck for the new medical office building on Fair Park. No. The winner for unexpected parking deck location (proposed) is Little Rock Racquet Club, with a parking deck proposed on Huntington Road just before it meets Foxcroft Road.

Sporting goods fans rejoice! I have it on very good authority (I know the broker) that the now-demolished theater site at McCain Plaza in North Little Rock will be a Dick’s Sporting Goods store. Dick’s Sporting Goods has nearly 700 stores across the United States. Central Arkansas discerning shoppers that prefer Dick’s Sporting Goods though have had to make a trek to Conway or Hot Springs for in-store shopping or pick-up. Soon North Little Rock will be home to a 50,000 square foot store. The whole center is scheduled for a makeover. Given the low vacancy overall in the area and the planned changes, I’m thinking this center may be shifting into the next gear.

Also in North Little Rock. Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is nearly open on McCain. Dr. Dinehart and Arkansas Dermatology have a new building finishing up at the corner of Smokey Lane and Stockton Lane, just south of Lowe’s. Construction next door to that new office building is said to be for a new hotel. In that Smokey Lane & Springhill Drive area, where once there were many lots for sale, now there are none. Whistle at me if you’d like to know where one might be hiding.

Who else watched the blasting along Interstate 430 on April 22 and 23? Who else thought Tonka trucks and firecrackers were summertime toys growing up? I threatened my wife that I was taking a lawn chair and a six pack over to River Mountain Road to watch the blasting. Luckily ADOT arranged for it to be livestreamed on Facebook and Periscope. So, I got to sit on my patio and watch it.

Wait, what is ADOT you ask? Well, you see, during the last legislative session a bill was passed, and subsequently signed into law by Governor Hutchinson, to change the name of the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department a/k/a AHTD to the Arkansas Department of Transportation a/k/a ADOT. Arkansas was one of the last 2 states that didn’t address this department as “Transportation.” As far as I know Nebraska Department of Roads is out there alone now.

That reminds me. Have you seen the plans, the paper ones and the animated ones, of the possible changes to the Interstate 430 & AR Highway 10 interchange? The blasting for the northbound ramp onto I-430 is just Phase I. The proposed changes are significant! With Bank of the Ozarks building a tremendous new campus out on Highway 10, the growth of the area west of I-430 in general, the continued increase in commuter traffic, and no prospects at all for an Arkansas River bridge further west; it is pretty doggone important that the planned changes bring about genuine improvements to the peak-hour congestion that currently plagues the Highway 10

corridor and I-430 north of I-630.

Why did the chicken cross the playground? To get to the other “slide.” Lloyd Walker out at Bancorp South was the first email respondent with the correct answer. For that Lloyd wins a tasty chicken dinner. Thanks to the rest who emailed answers.

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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