Favorite

Target: Midtown 

Though a legal squabble between the land owners and University Mall operator Simon Property Group continues in court, talk of redeveloping the languishing mall continues on other fronts.

A template for the future can be found in a consultants’ report for the Midtown Redevelopment Advisory Board, which was created by the city to plan redevelopment of the University Avenue commercial strip north of the Mills Freeway.

The short form of the report is this: The University Mall property is prime real estate with good access to an affluent market. The mall should be replaced by a “pedestrian friendly” mixed-use project with “midtown scale and density.”

The advisory board’s vision includes offices, residences and new shopping, with the anchor a Target store. This wouldn’t be a typical big box Target, but a multi-story Target with a smaller footprint, most parking in a deck and a scattering of small “teaser” parking lots amid the landscaping.

The advisory board report is only a dream, but spokesmen for Simon say a mixed use redevelopment is precisely what Simon wants and is similar to several Simon projects elsewhere. Nobody is building new enclosed regional malls anymore, though many, such as Simon’s McCain Mall, remain profitable.

Simon will unveil its “vision” for the property at a meeting of the Midtown Advisory Board Dec. 8. It will be more detailed than the hastily sketched drawing of a Target store presented in court as evidence of Simon’s desire to redevelop the deteriorating mall.

Simon is trying to improve its image. It wants to send a signal that it doesn’t want to abandon the University Mall property, even if it’s not salvageable in its current form. It needs a lease extension or to buy the property to achieve its aim.

The meeting with the advisory group and Simon’s recent willingness to meet with the press — after years of limited communication — is intended to build leverage on the University Mall landowners to strike a deal apart from the lawsuit pending before federal Judge George Howard. The landowners, of course, are seeking leverage, too. A total win in their lawsuit about mall management would be for the judge to find sufficient violation of the lease by Simon to void it.

No need to choose favorites just yet. Anything that hastens redevelopment of University Mall is good for the central part of town, recently enhanced by the new “lifestyle” center across from Park Plaza, Pottery Barn and all.

The redevelopment envisioned by both the advisory group and Simon would put homes, medical offices and other permanent inhabitants in place — a ready market to shop Target and patronize new restaurants.

The land clearly has high value; else its control wouldn’t be so contested. Remember that fact should somebody be heard to say that the redevelopment options are exciting, but too expensive to undertake without taxpayer subsidy. Nobody has said such a thing directly yet, but there have been hints. After all, Rogers, Jonesboro and North Little Rock have eagerly turned over school tax money to developers in tax increment finance schemes.

Little Rock might be a tougher mark because of the signal voters sent in rejecting the Summit Mall. It was a University Avenue-killer that would have, incidentally, put Simon in charge of a new mall out west. It may be time to let Summit Mall bygones be bygones. But eternal vigilance and all that.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Caution: government at work

    I have several government targets this week.
    • Oct 19, 2017
  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • The casting couch

    Long ago and far away, I had an academic superior who enjoyed sexually humiliating younger men. There was unwanted touching — always in social situations — but mainly it was about making suggestive remarks, hinting that being a "hunk" was how I'd got hired.
  • Cotton to CIA?

    Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The casting couch

    • sigh............ I would argue that the idea of 'freedom from fear' is part of the…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: Caution: government at work

    • As to the AR Chamber of Commerce-DO NOT FORGET it supports passage of SJR8, which…

    • on October 19, 2017
  • Re: The casting couch

    • Freedom from fear is a human right.

    • on October 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation