Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Snyder to moderate tech park meeting tonight

Posted By on Tue, Oct 23, 2012 at 3:54 PM

Former Congressman Vic Snyder will moderate at a public hearing tonight on the Little Rock Technology Park, set at the less- than-felicitous time of 7:30 p.m. at UALR's Engineering and Information Technology Building, Room 203. That's where tech park board chairman Dr. Mary Good works, as it happens.

Charles Dilks, who worked on the Angle study plan commissioned by the chamber in 2008 and who the tech park authority has commissioned to consult on potential locations for the park, will answer questions from the public. Dilks has recommended four sites in lieu of the three neighborhoods suggested by the Angle report but no longer (in theory) under consideration because of neighborhood backlash. They are:

* DOWNTOWN: A 10-acre site east of Interstate 30, proposed by Moses Tucker for property mostly controlled by World Services for the Blind, which has given up on a plan to build a new facility there. Good has been harshly critical of this site and questioned the price and size, though proponents, including Mayor Mark Stodola, have said additional parcels could be added. This land costs about $5.2 million. Backers have touted its proximity to Acxiom, the Clinton Library, Heifer and a growing residential community. Dilks noted it's "far" from sponsoring institutions, though the neighborhood presents attractive features.

* COL. GLENN AND UNIVERSITY: A parcel of up to 84 acres recommended by Flake and Kelley for the University District Partnership on the south side of Col. Glenn, at the southern edge of the UALR campus. No price given until precise needs are known. It includes a shopping center, former Coleman Dairy property and some Fourche Creek flood plain land, noted unfavorably by Dilks and certain to be a focus of opponents. It's contiguous to campus and work there would be a shot in the arm for a struggling neighborhood. Dilks noted the need to remove retail tenants, though Hank Kelley has said most are in short-term leases are readily able to relocate. Dilks also said the site's very proximity to UALR might be a negative to other sponsors by identifying it too closely with UALR.

* RIVERDALE: A proposal from Flake and Kelley for one of the Verizon (formerly Alltel) buildings in Riverdale (1 Allied Drive, Building 5), a 224,000-square-foot building with up to 22 acres counting adjacent undeveloped ground. Dilks said the large building would have to be largely vacant at the outset, a possible drawback, and said the single large structure would make it impossible to build a mixed-use campus.

* JOHN BARROW: This is 30 to 40 acres along the 1900-2200 blocks of John Barrow Road, a neighborhood south of Kanis Road pushed by its city director, Doris Wright. Another Barrow neighborhood site — 37 acres along Riley Drive, just south of Interstate 630 — was withdrawn because it's under contract now for a medical facility. Dilks said the site would be easy to develop, but was expensive and a long way from sponsors.

Snyder is not taking a position on the park.

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