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About LIT uPP

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    Little Rock
  1. That half block is owned by Walter Hussman, owner of WEHCO Media and the Arknsas Democrat-Gazette. The ADG offices are on the block immediately to the southwest of this lot. There seems to be some excited anticipation about his future plans after he buys the alley, but this may just be wishful thinking.
  2. I tend to agree with the idea of countywide consolidation. That would boost our population to a more attention-grabbing level for site selection companies, and it would hopefully streamline services and finances. However, we also need to consider steps to make the Little Rock metro a much more attractive business environment for companies looking to relocate or expand. Several years ago, Fidelity Information Services considered moving its corporate headquarters to Little Rock from California, given its existing employee base here. Ultimately, they chose Jacksonville, Florida, in large part because it has no state income tax. This is just one example that comes to mind, but it illustrates the need to be more attractive to out-of-state business. Of course, we should also focus on improving the environment for local start-ups to encourage entrepreneurial ventures. I believe we simply don’t compare well with the nation’s fast-growing cities. In fact, these days we are competing with the world. You mention Nashville, which is currently experiencing explosive growth. Music and tourism are major drivers in their economy, but those industries are far from the only ones. Nashville is today a major hub for the health care industry. Several companies (like Nissan) have relocated their headquarters to the region to take advantage of lower taxes and financial incentives. Construction cranes are everywhere. People move there from all parts of the country and even the world to fill jobs. Toss in scenic beauty, a temperate climate, and friendly people, and one can understand why the region is attracting so many newcomers. I highlight Nashville, because I’ve been there several times and am amazed at all the activity. I was born in Little Rock and have lived here most of my life. It frustrates me to see an area with such potential struggle to grow, while metros in surrounding states surge in economic and population growth. I don’t take for granted the positives that have occurred here over the last 10-15 years, but we really could be doing so much better. If we don’t improve our competitiveness, we will fall further behind our fast-growing neighbors.
  3. Metroplan just released its "Metrotrends 2014 Demographic Review and Outlook," and the picture it paints for the Little Rock area is uninspiring, if not disheartening. The MSA's rate of population growth has slowed to a level not seen since the 1980s. All counties in the MSA are slowing. Metroplan estimates that 728,175 people now live in the LR/NLR/Conway MSA, an increase of only about 7,000 from last year. There is little chance we reach 800,000 by 2020. 750,000 would be a more reasonable target. While Little Rock and North Little Rock actually grew faster between 2010-2014 than they did between 2000-2010, they still lagged far behind several suburban cities in overall growth rate. Bryant is by far the fastest growing city in the MSA with a 3.7% annual growth rate between 2010 and 2014. In fact, Saline County was the fastest growing county at a 2.1% annual rate, while Faulkner County was second with 1.7% - a far cry from its 2.8% annual rate between 2000 and 2010. The report notes that one of the reasons for slowing growth is the lack of jobs in the area. Recently, Arkansas was ranked in the bottom five for job growth between 2010 and 2014. Unfortunately, there don't appear to be any prospects for reversing the trend in the near future. The full report can be found at the following link: http://www.metroplan.org/files/53/2014Demo.pdf
  4. This looks like it will be a nice addition to the Riverdale area. A subsidiary of the American Taekwondo Association has purchased the undeveloped land to the south of Riverdale Road, between Riverfront Drive and Brookwood Drive, for a new "world headquarters" of the ATA. There was an item on the Little Rock Planning Commission agenda a few weeks ago, but the submitters, Martial Arts Services Inc, asked for a delay.
  5. MT's 2009 vision for this block was far more ambitious than the reality taking place today. You can view that vision at the following link: http://www.oxleyartgraphics.com/LRRiverMarket-MTMap.html I wish they would wait a few years for the market to improve in order to announce a more impactful project - if they can regain their financial footing. They must be very disappointed with the current situation, as we all seem to be.
  6. Is this an image of "what might have been" or of "what still might be"? http://www.oxleyartgraphics.com/LRRiverMarket-MTMap.html The above link shows a conceptual rendering of the River Market District as envisioned by Moses Tucker in 2007. Some of the buildings are now reality, such as the Arcade, the River Market Tower, and a hotel at the NE corner of 3rd and River Market - a Residence Inn, although the image clearly indicates the desire was for an Aloft. The most interesting part of the image involves the block where the Arkla building once stood. The rendering shows three modern-looking multi-story buildings, the tallest of which is a 16 story tower. Obviously, part of this concept has changed with the announcement of MacArthur Commons. A hotel has been announced for the northern half of the block, but there has been no official announcement or rendering. Is it possible that Moses Tucker still plans a multi-use tower with the hotel as only one component, or has the weakened economy taken it's toll on the tower plans?
  7. A capsule in last week's Arkansas Business states that a subsidiary of the American Taekwondo Association has purchased the undeveloped land to the south of Riverdale Road, between Riverfront Drive and Brookwood Drive, for a new "world headquarters" of the ATA. There was no mention of timing for the project.
  8. Fencing now surrounds the project, and excavation has begun on the surface parking lot.
  9. Whole Foods may be close to announcing another West Little Rock location. The agenda for the August 2nd Planning Commission meeting includes an item for Whole Foods at the Northeast corner of Chenal and Bowman. That would be the location of Best Buy and the former Linens ‘N Things – now the Faithspring Church (I believe is the name). Unless the church plans to abandon its current location, I can’t imagine any other location where Whole Foods might locate on that NE corner. When the full agenda is released before the meeting, we’ll know more. Another item on the agenda requests a median break on Chenal between Autumn and Bowman to serve the Best Buy shopping center. On an unrelated note, there are several items regarding planned commercial developments along Highway 10. A new round of activity may soon begin along that corridor. Currently, two “upscale” apartment complexes are in various stages of construction between Chenonceau and Chenal.
  10. The parking lot to the west of the Blass Building has been empty for the past week. The plumbing permits for the Blass Building, parking deck, and annex were recently issued. Looks like the construction and renovation will begin soon.
  11. Arkansas Business reports that two stores should soon occupy the space formerly occupied by Lewis & Clark Outfitters. They are Romeoville, IL based Ulta Salon Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc and Charlotte, NC based Versona Accessories. The president and CEO of Midtowne’s owner, Miller Capital Advisory, believes the center should be 100% leased by the end of the year.
  12. The article in Arkansas Business a few weeks ago stated that the Kroger Company is in the process of purchasing the land to the east of the existing Kroger, along with the existing store and adjoining 10,000 square foot retail space. They plan to build a 113,000 square foot store to replace the current 51,300 square foot grocery. Kroger plans to open the new store by Christmas, after which it will tear down the old store for additional parking. The article did not mention demolition of the adjoining retail space.
  13. Its plumbing permit appeared on the permit website, yesterday.
  14. I found an interesting item on the Little Rock planning commission agenda, dated October 6th, that appears to bode well economically for the city in the future. Item 4 states that the management of Fidelity Information Services (FIS) has decided to expand its Little Rock campus in the future. In order to accommodate this growth, it is requesting approval for an expanded power plant now, and a central power plant building when conditions warrant. Most interestingly, FIS wishes to retain the site plan from 1992, which depicts planned construction of a very large parking deck on the southeast end of the campus and three more office buildings to the north of the deck. The deck would ultimately service all six current and future office buildings. Of course, this is a long-range plan, but the fact that FIS is preparing for future expansion bodes well for Little Rock. On a somewhat related matter, just to the north of the FIS campus, construction has begun on the Verizon central switching office building. Further west on Highway 10, Easter Seals is hoping to purchase and renovate the old grocery store building at the southwest corner of Highway 10 and Taylor Loop East (just west of Bank of the Ozarks) for an adult training and wellness center. That building has been vacant for a long time, and it would be nice to see something positive happen to it.
  15. Refer to post 87, above. It will be a Jimmy John's sandwhich shop.
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