Phase 1 (left) will be built with $22 million in public funds and another $28 million in private funds yet to be raised.
Little Rock Tech Park consultant Charles Dilks will be asked to review 23 properties proposed to the park Authority board for location of the park and make recommendations to the board by Oct. 10 for what he considers to be the top three, four or five, the Authority board decided today at its monthly meeting, held at Baptist Health. The board will then hold three public hearings over two days on the selected sites and will choose at its Nov. 14 meeting which one it wants to pursue. There will have to be an engineering study of the site at that point.
So the board is sticking to that six-month study plan (and not a day more) recommended by a City Board resolution passed in June in response to the outcry from residential neighborhoods that the Authority first put its sights on for demolition to make way for what is essentially an office park.
Board member C.J. Duvall, reporting on the Authority's Neighborhood Housing Committee Board, whose paradoxical purpose is find housing for people who the board now say won't be relocated, reported that residents of Forest Hills and Fair Park, the former targets of the Authority, don't believe the Authority is truly interested in alternative sites.
Duvall also requested that any evaluation of the alternative sites take into consideration the impact on people, the possibility of reusing vacant structures and the cost of the alternatives, and board agreed to ask Dilks to do that.
Member Jay Chesshir suggested the board also hire someone to "have discussions with property owners and their willingness to sell" after the finalists are chosen. Chesshir said later that he did not intend for that person to go into the three neighborhoods theoretically off the table and take a census of who'd be willing to sell. Dr. Mary Good, chair of the committee, asked about language in her letter to the City Board that said "significant" interest from people living in the three residential areas could put those neighborhoods back on the table, said she had on her desk several letters from landlords and others in Forest Hills and elsewhere who want to sell. Is that a significant number? She said she did not know, and had put them aside while the Authority considers alternatives.
Six people stood up to indicate their support for a 10-acre site east of Interstate 30 and southwest of Heifer International that Moses-Tucker put forward.
Board member Dickson Flake said the board has enough money to pay consultant Dilks, noting that the city of Little Rock is the only partner in the enterprise not to have made its second installment in its pledge to the park. That means UAMS, a holdout, has now paid its second $25,000 toward its $125,000 commitment. In a letter UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn wrote the Authority to notify it the university was releasing its second $25,000 payment, Rahn thanked the board for considering the alternative sites. Rahn also requested that the Authority board "formally address the recommendations made by the UALR Institute of Government in their report, "Site Selection Considerations for Urban Research Parks" and "develop a process for inclusion of community stakeholders" to give advice during the site selection process. This will apparently be satisfied by the board's 2-day public hearings on the finalist sites.
Among several people who asked questions of the board at the meeting was Annika Whitfield, who wanted to know how many companies had indicated they'd invest in the tech park. Chesshir said it was premature to market the park before the site had been selected. State Sen. Joyce Elliott asked whether the board had participated in the search for an alternative site, to which Flake replied that he'd made some calls but could find no willing sellers.
However, one of the sites under consideration, in a building formerly occupied by Alltel, is being handled by Colliers International, the realty firm that employs Flake.
Maps of the 23 sites will be posted on the board's website.
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/
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/
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/
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/
Chad Young, an architect with Wittenberg Deloney and Davidson, presented the firm's preliminary drawings for the first phase of the Little Rock Tech Park construction: renovation of 42,000 square feet in buildings at 415 and 417 Main St. The presentation included a timeline that should a construction start date of March 8. /more/
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority board this afternoon signed off, with one nay vote, on the terms of two loans totaling $17.5 million offered by a consortium of Little Rock banks led by Centennial Bank. The authority board also agreed to extend the deadline for Richard Mays to accept its offer of $845,000 for his building at 415 Main St. to noon Friday. The deadline had been noon today. /more/
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority board voted this afternoon to offer Richard Mays $845,000, the sum his appraiser reached for his building at 415 Main St., while concurrently preparing to file a condemnation lawsuit. Mays has until noon Nov. 16 to agree to the offer; otherwise, the board will proceeds with a lawsuit. /more/
The Little Rock Technology Park Authority has received an updated appraisal of 415 Main St., a two-story, 10,020-square-foot office building owned by lawyer Richard Mays, that puts its value at $670,000. /more/
Heads up for Thursday, Oct. 27: Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery opens "Landscapes/Dreamscapes: At the Crossroads of Observation and Memory," an exhibition of drawings and paintings by Little Rock artists Jeanie Lockeby Hursley and Dominique Simmons.
If you read this week's Arts and Entertainment feature on Good Weather Gallery, you are probably wanting to know a little bit more about the show opening tomorrow, Oct. 22: Elliott Earls' "Death of a Salesman."
Lauren McCants, the Southern Salt Co. food truck founder and chef, is now serving food at the White Water Tavern Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. On the menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers (of course) as well as deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, deep fried chicken sandwiches, a smoked bologna and over-easy egg sandwich (real good, she says), chicken nachos and a special, like coconut curried chicken. There are vegetarian options, as well: Deep-fried tofu sandwiches, prepared with avocado and like a fish taco; and sweet potato and avocado tacos.
Response to our story about rehoming and adoption has been overwhelmingly positive, with one exception. Rep. Nate Bell (R-Mena) has informed me that writing this story makes me the predator and Justin Harris the victim. I'm hellbound, apparently.
Craig and Cheryl Hart were the foster parents of the two sisters who were adopted by Rep. Justin Harris and his wife Marsha and later "rehomed." The Harts say that the adoption was allowed to proceed over the objections of the foster parents and local DHS staff due to pressure exerted by Cecile Blucker, head of the Division of Children and Family Services, on behalf of Justin Harris.