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  • As printed in The Daily Record

New Bank Headquarters Prompts Development

REMINDER, on September 18 there will be a Commercial Real Estate Industry Issues Lunch hosted by the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Little Rock and other industry groups. It is a sit-down lunch at Pleasant Valley Country Club and starts a little early, at 11 a.m. The candidates for the 2nd Congressional District and the candidates for Little Rock mayor will be answering questions about the real estate industry in Little Rock and central Arkansas. You can find more information and purchase tickets, or an entire table, at As of this writing there were only about 40 seats left. Sign up today if you are interested. Whatever your concerns, worries, hopes or interests are relating to the future of homes and businesses in Little Rock, the next mayor will have a hand in addressing them, or not. The people of Little Rock must choose. Come listen to these candidates and make an informed choice.

Last week we covered a bevy of multi-unit housing sales. Along those same lines, a trio of properties contiguous to, coming-soon, The District at Midtown sold last month. Midrock Properties, LLC bought 601 Chickadee, 607 Chickadee, and 615 Chickadee Drive for the price of $1,150,000. With 20 units, that’s ~$57,500 per unit. I see this area trending upward. Out west there is an expansion at The Ranch of Parkland Heights Apartments at 30 Ayla Drive with a permit value of $6,692,585. And just down the road a piece, just west of the Chenal Valley Drive intersection with Chenal Parkway, an apparently related entity by the name of ARD Real Estate paid $1,490,000 for 21.3 acres. We’re going to call that $70,000 per acre. This tract of land previously sold in 2007 for $3,342,000. That sale price was a strong swing at $157,000 per acre. There was some bank ownership in between those sales, if you know what we mean.

The thought crosses my mind to wonder if it is too early to attribute these investments, and some others out the Highway 10 corridor, to the effect of the Bank OZK headquarters at The Ranch. There will be hundreds of jobs added there. And, although this isn’t a downtown project, people are getting less prone to commute, especially on the west side of town. As my grandpa used to say, you just can’t get there from here. In large part it is because most all the traffic is forced to use either Chenal Parkway or Hwy 10. Added to that is a renaissance of the Joe T. Robinson campus of the Pulaski County Special School District. New mojo at Robinson and the addition of Pinnacle View Middle School at The Ranch give more reason for families that want a neighborhood school to live in the neighborhood around the growing bank headquarters. Retail and restaurant options are increasing, with some starts-and-stops, on the west side. Maybe these most recent investments, and others prior or yet to come, are a hard-money bet going on that Bank OZK employees will be game to live within a mile or so of the new headquarters. I’m going to go out on a limb and say “yes” they will want to live near their work. Maybe they’ll even bike there. You know, it is less than a mile along the railroad from William Kersch Preserve at Ranch North Woods at the north end of Ranch Boulevard over to Pinnacle Valley Road and the Arkansas River Trail. The Arkansas River Bicycle Trail System is roughly 100 miles of bike paths stretching from downtown Little Rock in the River Market all the way out to Pinnacle Mountain. These are just a few of the many factors influencing growth on the west side of Little Rock, similar reasons as other areas. I suggest to you thought that “no,” it isn’t too early to point to Mr. Gleason’s decision to grow Bank OZK at The Ranch as a contributing factor. Bank OZK’s expansion will create economic growth for the west side, for all of Little Rock and for all of Central Arkansas. To me, the logical next question is: when does a new bridge connecting Hwy 300 near Roland to Hwy 365 on the west side of Maumelle get built?

Anyone interested in the effects of the Bank OZK headquarters on commercial real estate, or any growth for that matter, on the west side of Little Rock and the surrounding area might want to join the Arkansas CCIM Chapter and the Little Rock REALTORS Association at the Q4 Commercial Real Estate Luncheon. It is scheduled for October 18 at Kirkpatrick Plaza. Lunch and networking start at 11:30 a.m. The program will be on changes in the commercial real estate market on the west side of Little Rock and the featured presentation will be by Brent Morgan, President–Central Arkansas Division of Bank OZK. Come network, listen and learn what’s next and how you can use this information in your business.

River Walk Office, LLC and River Walk Office II, LLC teamed up to purchase what was most recently called Rock Plaza, located at 1 Information Way in Little Rock. That’s down in Riverdale, along the Arkansas River. Yes, I realize that colloquially it is just “the river.” However, nearly every time I tour with an out-of-town client there is at least an 80 percent chance that they are going to ask, “what’s that river?” So, let’s go ahead and help them out and full-name it just like your mama did when she was hollerin’ at you. Anyway, these River Walk entities bought this ~55,000 square foot office building AND an adjacent, still-undeveloped lot that fronts on Riverfront Drive for the total sum of $9,075,000. The Pulaski County Assessor’s office recorded the properties separately with a value of $7,950,000 for the office building and the handful of parking spaces that went with it. Hillbilly math on that yields a value of just about $145 per square foot for the building. And the Assessor recorded the sale of the lot bordering Riverfront at a value of $1,125,000. The dearth of on-site parking surely necessitated the purchase of the extra lot to be used for parking. I can envision it being more than just parking. We’ll see. Let’s also watch and see what happens with the property at 216 Louisiana Street. It’s not generally polite to discuss someone else’s business and certainly not without asking. I’m short on time to get this column finished by deadline so I’m going to skip the call and leave out the names. The six readers that are interested in knowing more can do a little homework on their own. Suffice it to say that the address for the River Walk Office entities is 216 Louisiana Street. I’ll wager that the Louisiana St. property turns into something cool in a couple of years.

If you’ve read a column or two, or heard me on my soapbox, you know that one of the three “P”s I talk about is public works. This includes infrastructure, including streets (among other things). I remain confounded as to how a city can be expected to grow with no public investment in streets, sidewalks, bike lanes (Some parts of Little Rock are getting bike lanes whether they want them or not. Right Jennifer?), and even public transit. No. I don’t think any part of Little Rock is ready for light rail or monorail. Planning for all of these things is necessary though. Plans are useless if they are never executed. Little Rock has a Master Street Plan. Ostensibly the Master Street Plan is to be executed and funded under the auspices of the Boundary Street Ordinance. I don’t get enough space here to go into my usual rant on the inefficiency and inadequacy of that arrangement. It is at the top of my mind this week though, because in August there was an application to the Little Rock Planning Commission to remove a portion of the proposed West Loop from the Master Street Plan. More and more traffic cannot keep being stuffed onto the existing arterial streets. To accommodate people moving to the city, to the county, and to the region, alternative routes must be provided. To their credit, the Staff in Planning & Development at the City of Little Rock recommended against the removal of this part of the West Loop and subsequently the application was withdrawn. Maybe the new mayor will be open to changing the way infrastructure is addressed and accelerate investment in the Master Street Plan and transportation connectivity that can help reduce the inter-county commuting traffic that clogs area interstates twice a day.

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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