Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tech Park decision nears — downtown, the best site, will have opposition

Posted By on Sat, Feb 9, 2013 at 9:16 AM

DOWNTOWN DREAMING: Proponents of the downtown site developed this conceptual drawing of a Tech Park on the east side of I-30.
  • DOWNTOWN DREAMING: Proponents of the downtown site developed this conceptual drawing of a Tech Park on the east side of I-30.

I received notice this week of a meeting Wednesday of the board of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority.

Reports are coming on the review of the three finalist sites — downtown near the Clinton Library; at Asher and University, and in the John Barrow Addition. The consultant hand-picked by Authority board member Dickson Flake to guide this project back when it was merely a chamber of commerce dream for a way to siphon money off a city sales tax increase will also comment.

Here's what I think will happen:

* The downtown site is the obvious choice among the three finalists. Questions will be raised about additional land acquisition, but drive around down there. It's mostly warehouse wasteland that has lain fallow for years. Adjacent landowners should be thrilled to add territory to the committed parcels should the development be put there. Which it should be. To the degree any community can point to "synergy" for technical developments, they nearly always point to happening areas with existing relevant enterprise and an ambience that could attract the sorts of scientific and entrepreneurial sorts that make such a project work. That's downtown Little Rock, with Acxiom, new residences geared to younger people, entertainment, a presidential library, a thoroughly green international good works institution (Heifer) and lots more. Distance to UAMS and Children's Hospital is five minutes on the Mills Freeway; to UALR four or five minutes more. With telephone, computers, teleconferencing and the rest, I can't see four or five minutes more of driving as an impediment to meaningful cooperation.

* Mary Good, Bob Johnson and Dickson Flake of the seven-member board clearly oppose the downtown site (though Flake has said he won't participate in the vote). They favor the residential neighborhoods south of UAMS, particularly Forest Hills, which their consultant put into the mix at Flake's insistence at the outset. I count at least two of the remaining four board members in the significant lobby that has developed for the downtown site. Board member Jay Chesshir has friends on both sides and is in a tough spot. Heads of chambers of commerce always endeavor to keep their friends happy. One vote I couldn't guess.

* The consultant will continue to say none of the three finalists is as good as ripping up one of the poor neighborhoods south of UAMS.

* The city board sounds sincere when it says the residential neighborhoods are off the table. But trusting the city board — think Gene Fortson, who wasn't going to run for city board when he was appointed to an unexpired term, but has done so twice — is risky business.

* A neighborhood group will shortly announce its intention to sue at the barest whisper of use of eminent domain to take their residential property.

Lindsey and I discussed this at some length on our weekly podcast. I think tech parks are flavor-of-the-day wishful thinking with a mixed track record nationally. I think ideas and venture capital — not a taxpayer-financed office building — create new business enterprise, both far moreso than the precise location of the geniuses' offices. But if we are to proceed down this path — and that is a foregone conclusion — the downtown site is the obvious choice. The Tech Park board should accept the developing community consensus and move on. A political firefight is in the offing otherwise.

Tags: ,

Favorite

Speaking of Little Rock Technology Park

  • 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/
  • Tech park construction start estimate: March 8

    December 9, 2015
    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/
  • Tech park agrees to terms of $17.5 million from consortium

    November 16, 2015
    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/
  • Tech Park: Yes to Mays' appraisal for Main Street property: Clarification

    November 2, 2015
    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/
  • New appraisal on Main: No need for eminent domain?

    October 28, 2015
    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/
  • Tech Park steps in it again; talks of condemning land on which it made low-ball offer

    October 15, 2015
    The Tech Park does it again. Tries to lowball a property owner with an offer below the value appraised for taxes after paying a fat amount above tax value for Stephens property downtown. /more/
  • Look who's talking about fairness

    September 3, 2015
    Arkansas Business reported recently that because of bankers' objections, the Arkansas Federal Credit Union has not been allowed to participate in a lender consortium financing $17 million in initial property acquisition and development for the Little Rock Technology Park. /more/
  • More »

Comments (24)

Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-24 of 24

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Arkansas Supreme Court denies rehearing in death penalty challenge, but delays mandate

    The Arkansas Supreme Court today refused to rehear the case denying Death Row inmates information about drugs used by the state in the lethal injection process.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Welspun layoffs: Another example of corporate welfare folly

    Layoffs at the Welspun pipe plant in Little Rock are a reminder of the folly of corporate welfare and the inability of Arkansas to separate itself from global economic forces. See the Fayetteville shale. And keep a watchful eye on that Sun Paper pulp mill proposed near Arkadelphia.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • Hamburg bank manager gets 21 months for theft

    Melinda Gwin, 49, of Hamburg has been sentenced to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to repay $210,875 stolen from the First National Bank of Crossett. She was sentenced in El Dorado federal court, according to a Justice Department news release.
    • Jul 21, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • Tackling autism, child by child

    An Arkansas Children's Hospital doctor is testing a new drug that targets one of a host of ailments the highly individual disorder can cause.
  • 1957 all over again

    Last week, the State Board of Education voted to ignore federal courts and allow school district transfers that will encourage segregation.
  • Death penalty lives

    Barely clinging to its flagging life, the death penalty got a merciful reprieve last month from the unlikeliest quarter, the Arkansas Supreme Court.
  • Drinking culture

    Here we go again. At the rate these campus sexual abuse sagas are making news, it's reasonable to ask what college administrators can possibly be thinking about.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation