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.
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/
The Arkansas Federal Credit Union, having gotten nowhere with complaints to the publicly financed Little Rock Technology Park Authority, has complained to the city board of directors that they were unfairly cut out of a lending consortium for financing of construction in the downtown project because banks don't like credit unions.They are correct. /more/
Drinks of the roaring ’20s will be bottoms up as Preserve Arkansas hosts its second annual Preservation Libations Master Mix-Off starting at 6 p.m. Friday, July 22, in the Albert Pike Masonic Temple. Set in the auditorium of the grand 1924 structure, guests will imbibe and vote on competing bartenders’ twists on historic cocktails, all of them delightfully quirky and plenty stiff.
The council that advises Metroplan's board of directors voted today to wait until a 30-day public comment period has passed before deciding whether to grant the state highway department a waiver of the planning agency's six-lane limit on freeway through lanes. The panel, the Regional Planning Advisory Council, will meet Aug. 24 to consider the comments. That is the day after the public comment period, which runs July 24 to Aug. 23.
This morning, I was a student ambassador for Philander Smith College and the Social Justice Institute at a House Committee that discussed Rep. Nate Bell’s proposal to divide a Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Texas and Arkansas will play in a bowl game, which undoubtedly will stir sentiments about an old rivalry among old Hog fans, but perhaps not so much among Texans, now in good supply in Fayetteville themselves.
Twelve of the lawyers facing punishment by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith for moving a class action case against an insurance company out of his court to a state court where it was speedily settled have filed their argument against sanctions.
While this week's Democratic National Convention will nominate Hillary Clinton, it remains a party where the supporters of Bernie Sanders have a strong voice and could create some significant shenanigans in the coming days.