Two of the four clusters above don't have enough available real estate to create a core for the tech park, realtor says.
Jeff Yates, the realtor hired by the Little Rock Technology Park Authority to look at possible properties downtown on Main Street for lease or new construction for the tech park, told the authority board today that two of the four clusters identified in the so-called "technology corridor" between Markham and Ninth streets had insufficient properties available to accommodate the park as envisioned by the board.
The corridor was divided into four clusters for purposes of targeting a focal point for the park hub, the first building in which Little Rock taxpayers will invest $22 million from sales tax receipts to house biological and technological start-up companies. Yates declined to identify which of the four clusters didn't have enough available property within them to create a neighborhood of park-sponsored ventures, saying he did not want to give the owners in the clusters he is still investigating an incentive to raise prices. He did say, however, that the two clusters he is still considering are not contiguous, and one will require property from a contiguous cluster to be suitable.
The clusters are four-block squares bordered by Louisiana Street on the west and Scott Street on the east with the exception of Cluster III, which has east-west boundaries of Main and Center streets and north-south boundaries of Fifth and Seventh Streets.
In a letter presented to the board, Yates said the "the elimination of the properties with the least potential and the identification of the most feasible properties has resulted in one cluster that is more favorable than the other. However, more input is necessary from the owners of the the properties before a final recommendation can be presented."
Board member Kevin Zaffaroni suggested that just because one four-block square might not contain enough available property to meet the tech park's needs, that didn't mean the park couldn't be spread out among a wider area downtown. He noted that the Cortex Innovation Community in St. Louis is a mile square and its facilities are not contiguous, but mixed in with neighborhood businesses, which is part of its appeal. Chair Dr. Mary Good and member Dickson Flake demurred, Good saying the park needed to "nail down a footprint. ... You could end up with a building and nothing near by" in downtown's warming-up real estate market, and Flake that the St. Louis park's master plan calls for 100 contiguous acres.
Translation: Zaffaroni thinks you don't need a campus for a technology park to succeed. Good and Flake do. Member Jay Chesshir, as the Chamber of Commerce member on the board, naturally could see positives to both site plans.
Yates said his investigation was a starting point, not a whole, telling Good, "With all due respect, this will be a point from which you can continue to build. This is not a finite thing. With success it will continue to [to grow] for decades to come," the current clusters holding merely the "seeds" of the park.
Chesshir also updated the board on the City Board of Directors decision last week to take money from the general fund to pay a year's lease on property on Markham that will house the Ark Challenge for Central Arkansas.
The board then went into executive session to consider seven new applications for director of the tech park, but decided to hold off on voting until absent members C.J. Duvall, whose task has been to contact references, and Bob Johnson were in attendance. A conference call executive session will be conducted next week.
New applicants include Joel R. "Rick" Duke of Atlanta, whose resume says he is the director of economic development/executive director of research park at the University of Mississippi; Tiffany McFaddin-Kiddof Little Rock, the former development director at the Arkansas Foodbank; Thomas Chilton, the entrepreneurship and technology development director for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission;Gregg Potterwith the Clinton School of Public Service, who has been working in a legal resource center in Cape Town, S. Africa; Elizabeth Hood, the Lipscomb Distinguished Professor of Agriculture at Arkansas State University; Jeff Blackwellof Maumelle, senior vice president for Vestcom business solutions; and Mimi San Pedro, the COO of Hortus Ltd./P. Allen Smith Companies and a former vice president at Axciom.
Tech Park executive director Brent Birch reported to the board that in response to several inquiries from various companies about the park and when it will be open, he's been saying November or December. Construction is to begin in March. The work is to begin on the top, sixth, floor of the building, known as the Annex. Leasing will begin before the work on the building is complete. /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/
It was a long Little Rock Technology Park Authority board meeting tonight, as the board took up issues of eminent domain and heard from the attorney for a credit union that has been excluded from a lending proposal to the park. /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.
Legislators in town this week for orientation need bring no money for drinks and eats — special interests are picking up the tab three meals a day. The business lobby runs the social calendar for the Arkansas legislature, ethics amendment or no ethics amendment.
Asa Hutchinson, the governor-elect, stood out in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's roundup of Arkansas reaction to the Senate Intelligence Committee's report detailing the use of torture by the CIA and its ineffectiveness. He credited it with credibility other Republicans from Arkansas in Congress weren't ready to grant.
Still more good news for Lucie's Place, the small Little Rock nonprofit that works to help homeless LGBT youths. It's added a $10,000 grant to $30,000 raised in a symbolic response to the Duggar family's support for discrimination against gay people in Fayetteville.