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Saturday, February 22, 2014

City, state propose to help pay for utility relocation costs on downtown development

Posted By on Sat, Feb 22, 2014 at 7:52 AM

click to enlarge BUILDING PLANS: In this old Google map photo, the site of Hilton is at left and the old Arkla building, now demolished, is in background at right where another hotel and apartments are planned.
  • BUILDING PLANS: In this old Google map photo, the site of Hilton is at left and the old Arkla building, now demolished, is in background at right where another hotel and apartments are planned.

click to enlarge Screen_Shot_2014-02-22_at_7.40.36_AM.png
The state and the city are planning to pay $248,500 of the cost of relocating electric lines for develop of two hotels and an apartment project on blocks catacorner from each other at Fourth and Rock Streets. The government contribution is described as a spur to $58 million in investment that would contribute to downtown development.

The proposal is on the consent agenda for the Feb. 25 Little Rock City Board meeting, meaning it is not controversial. Perhaps. But I was alerted to the coming proposal by a source who asked whether it was unusual to help developers pay cost of utility relocation. I have asked that question to state and city officials.

The board agenda said developers — there are three for three neighboring projects — must spend $400,000 to bury Entergy lines to allow the construction. The Arkansas Economic Development Commission has committed $200,000, contingent on a $48,500 contribution from the city of Little Rock. Developers will pay the rest.

The resolution providing the city money says the projects will create 50-60 new jobs, plus 300 construction jobs and "spur additional investments to support the enhancement and growth of our downtown and River Market areas…"

The three projects:

* Homewood Suite Hotel and Parking Garage: 116 room, six (6)-story, extended stay hotel with a 236 car garage. Total estimated cost exceeds $24 million. Construction to start March 2014. This project, being developed by the McKibbon Hotel Group, will be on the north half of the block between Fourth and Capitol once occupied by the Arkla gas building

* MacArthur Commons Apartments: Ninety-six (96) market rate rental apartments. Total estimated cost exceeds $14 million. Construction to start June 2014. This is a Moses Tucker project on the south half of the Arkla block, fronting on Capitol Avenue.

* Hilton Garden Hotel: 135 room, seven (7)-story, full service hotel including corporate offices for the company. Total estimated cost exceeds $20 million. The Pinnacle Hotel Group has announced plans for this facility catacorner from the Homewood Suite Hotel. it will be on Fourth between Cumberland and Rock, on the south half of that block.

Ground work is already on progress on the former Arkla property.

UPDATE: Rett Tucker of Moses Tucker is the only response so far. He said:

As I understand it, the work in question is for 3 service providers in the public right of way on 4th Street. Both the hotels will pay for all on-site utility work. Our apartments are on the south 1/2 of the block on Capitol Avenue. We are paying for all utility work on our site, as we always do.

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