Friday, July 20, 2012

Tech Park board hears 'best practices' for site selection

Posted By on Fri, Jul 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM

RESEARCH PARK: Study says touted Virginia Biotech Park (model here touted on LR Tech Park website) is hard to distinguish from any other office park.
  • RESEARCH PARK: Study says touted Virginia Biotech Park (model here touted on LR Tech Park website) is hard to distinguish from any other office park.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority indicates further today that it has heard the outcry from both residential neighborhoods and the city officials who control the money for the Tech Park about using a bit more consideration in choosing a site for the taxpayer-financed office building that is supposed to lure private businesses.

Today, it released a report from a UALR division on "best practices" that proponents of such facilities "must recognize in communicating with and involving potentially affected stakeholders in the process of site selection." The report also provides some strong cautionary words about such ventures.

UALR is a partner in the project with UAMS, the city and the Little Rock Regional Chamber of Commerce, which dreamed the idea up, wrote the law, raised money to pass a city sales tax to pay for it and effectively controls the governing board. Early designs on three low-income majority black residential neighborhoods as the preferred site for the park stirred up a storm. Since then, the process has been reopened to consider other sites.

Today comes the report from the Institute of Government at UALR, which has been in a ticklish position as a neighbor to residential neighborhoods targeted for removal even as it is working to build its image as a promoter of racial healing in the community. The report looks at the best way to use urban neighborhoods, focusing on the three identified by the Tech Park Board before it opened the site competition to other ideas. It will be accepting proposals through the end of this month.

Here's the report. It says affected residents should be part of the process. (Comment: It would be better if they were also included on the governing board, rather than it being almost entirely from a country club ward.)

The report found two places — Baltimore and Oklahoma City — where inclusion of people in the process from the outset and good relocation packages (not just market value of property) produced generally satisfied residents. But consider what also was done for an Oklahoma City hospital research park project, in addition to generous relocation payments:

* A comprehensive urban renewal plan;
* the establishment of a Planned Urban Development (PUD) subdivision arrangement;
* a sizeable federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) ($4 million); and,
* the creation of a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district.

Good commentary, too, on whether these projects work, as proponents claim they do, in spurring economic development. The UALR notes studies about job creation, but continues:

"... None of these studies addresses the question of whether these opportunities and benefits produce positive externalities for neighborhoods affected by these projects.

In any event, these opportunities do not accrue automatically to communities with research parks. Some research suggests that these parks either have no effect in attracting biotech industry, or may in fact be counter-productive or superfluous to fomenting research and development activities in a community. The primary reason that many research parks do not perform to expectations is due to research funding and commercialization revenues being heavily influenced by the “Top 15” universities that dominate technology transfer."

This brings up a long-running criticism. The city of Little Rock can't finance this thing alone. Unless the major education institutions or private enterprise put in big money, it will be a hard slog. And without demonstrated benefit to hundreds of displaced people, it becomes a huge question of whether the Tech Park board should bulldoze residential neighborhoods.

The report notes some successes. But, significantly, parks touted by backers of the Little Rock park — in Virginia and South Carolina — have run into difficulties, the report notes. Take Virginia:

For example, at the Virginia Bio-Tech Research Park, two of the three publicly-held companies have moved out. As recently as last year, the Virginia Bio-Tech Research Park was in negotiations with Virginia Commonwealth University to sell two of its buildings. Furthermore, much of the park’s space is “occupied by entities that have nothing to do with the original purpose of incubating biotech start-ups and spinning them loose. Very little ‘clustering,’ or big-time corporate contract work, has been achieved. At times, it’s difficult to tell what distinguishes the biotech park from any other office park.”

How to avoid problems? Thirteen "best practices" are listed: Seek consensus, develop trust, don't rush, have multiple options, seek volunteers for sites and, among others:

Fully compensate all negative impacts of a facility—Compensation should be negotiated with potentially affected stakeholders. Compensation agreements for potentially affected stakeholders may include property value guarantees, relocation assistance, housing vouchers for renters, job training, and ensuring that public transportation is readily accessible to dislocated stakeholders.

And this:

Make the host community better off—Proponents of siting a facility in a particular community should respond to the real needs of potentially affected stakeholders in that community. Comprehensive benefits packages offered to residents could include tax abatements, providing amenities to residents (e.g., parks, access to public transportation), or even direct cash payments to residents. The net effect is that the potentially affected stakeholders feel that they are better off than before the facility displaced them. Laws and Susskind suggest that “incentive payments or promises to take actions of various kinds should be made over and above commitments to mitigate impacts or compensate a community for impacts that cannot be mitigated.”

Citing other reports, the UALR report says tech park developers too often hunker down and defend decisions "rather than engaging stakeholders in a timely and meaningful way. This breeds even greater public cynicism."

Uh, yes. But perhaps reports such as UALR's — and a demonstrated effort to follow its suggestions — could make a difference.

NEWS RELEASE

Little Rock Technology Park Authority Chairman Dr. Mary Good today released ‘Site Selection Considerations for Urban Research Parks,’ a report issued by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock Institute of Government.

The research highlights best practices that proponents of such facilities “must recognize in communicating with and involving potentially affected stakeholders in the process of site selection.”


According to Chairman Good, the ten-and-a-half page report will serve the board and community well as they collectively consider where best to locate the Little Rock Technology Park.

“We are grateful for the fine work specifically prepared by Dr. Christopher Diaz, Research Associate, and Hunter Bacot, Director of UALR’s Institute on Government,” said Dr. Good.

The complete report is attached and posted at www.lrtechpark.com.

Tags: , , ,

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Speaking of...

  • Ahoy! Blue Sail launches Saturday on Main Street

    March 23, 2017
    Blue Sail Coffee Roasters opens its shop Saturday, March 25, in the Little Rock Technology Park, 417 Main St. The grand opening announcement says the shop will be in business at 7 a.m. and stay open until 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. /more/
  • Tech Park gets $50,000 boost from ACH, UALR

    February 8, 2017
    Arkansas Children's Hospital and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock will increase their contributions to the Little Rock Technology Park by $25,000 each for two years, park Director Brent Birch says. /more/
  • New tenant at Tech Park: Ritter Communications

    January 26, 2017
    Ritter Communications, a technology company based in Jonesboro, has signed a five-year lease for 1,328 square feet on the fifth floor of the Little Rock Technology Park, becoming the largest tenant to date in the Tech Park's first building at 417 Main St. /more/
  • I repeat, more coffee for downtown: Blue Sail

    January 19, 2017
    Blue Sail Coffee Roasters of Conway will open a coffee shop in the Little Rock Technology Park in mid-March, owner Kyle Tabor said Thursday. The park's first building, at 417 Main St., is to open Feb. 24, but Tabor said he was reluctant to open before construction, on the first floor of building, is complete. /more/
  • Little Rock Tech Park announces first tenants

    December 6, 2016
    The Little Rock Tech Park announced its first tenants at a press conference at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce this morning /more/
  • 'Comfortable' with interest in Tech Park leases, board chair says

    August 10, 2016
    Interest in leasing space in the Little Rock Technology Park under construction in the 400 block of Main Street is a "comfortable amount" for this stage in the project, Authority board chair Kevin Zaffaroni said today at the board's monthly meeting. He declined to say how many floors of the first building to open, at 417 Main St., that comfortable amount might include, since no leases are final. /more/
  • Another yes for the Wide Misery. UPDATE: Make that two ayes

    April 27, 2016
    The Little Rock Technology Park board today endorsed the Arkansas Highway Department's split-diamond C/D design for Interstate 30 contingent on a change in the design of Capitol. /more/
  • Stephens maintains rights to Metrocentre asset

    April 21, 2016
    Now that the Stephens properties on Main Street and Fifth have been sold to The Little Rock Technology Park, what is Stephens' share in the Metrocentre Improvement District assets, I wondered as I wrote yesterday's item on the potential sale of  Henry Moore's "Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge." /more/
  • Tech Park chair Mary Good to step down

    February 11, 2016
    Dr. Mary Good, who has been the chair of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority board since its formation as a nonprofit in 2011, informed UALR Chancellor Joel Anderson in a letter Jan. 20 that she will step down March 15, it was announced at Wednesday's tech park board meeting. She said she would stay longer, if needed, until her replacement is named. /more/
  • Tech park to buy first property on Friday

    February 3, 2016
    The Little Rock Technology Park plans to close Friday on its first purchases of real estate: 5 Main Place at Fifth and Main streets, the Annex Building at 417 Main, the Mays Building at 415 Main St., the parking lot between the Mays Building and the KATV-Ch. 7 building (referred to as the Center Theater lot, because that is where the theater stood before Stephens interests had it demolished), the parking lot on the west side of Main between Fourth and Fifth, the old Stephens Inc. offices on Fifth Street, and the Keith parking at Scott and Fifth Street. /more/
  • More »

Comments (8)

Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-8 of 8

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
    • Apr 20, 2017
  • Death Row inmates argue to keep stay of execution in place; urge 8th Circuit not to 'rush' analysis

    Early this morning, attorneys for nine Death Row inmates, filed an argument with the 8th United States Court of Appeals contesting the state's effort to override Judge Kristine Baker's order Saturday that halted executions scheduled this month.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • Federal judge denies execution stay for Don Davis but larger stay continues

    Don Davis, who's been moved to the killing facility of the state prison for killing tonight at 7 p.m. if a stay of execution is lifted in another federal suit, sought a stay in another federal court Sunday, but the request was denied.
    • Apr 17, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Most Viewed

  • Lee's lawyer writes about executed man's last hours

    Lee Short, the lawyer for Ledell Lee, the man Arkansas put to death just before midnight last night, posted on Facebook the following letter of thanks for personal support and a bit about Lee's last hours, distributing his possessions and talking to family.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

Slideshows

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation