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Tech-park findings submitted by firm

By Lee Hogan

This article was originally published February 11, 2013 at 11:28 a.m. Updated February 11, 2013 at 2:27 p.m.

— Engineering firm Crafton Tull & Associates Inc. has submitted its findings on three proposed sites for a Little Rock Technology Park to the park authority.

In a Friday letter, Crafton Tull submitted findings for possible park locations at 701 Collins St., the southwest corner of Asher and University avenues; and an area from the 1900 block to 2200 block of John Barrow Road.

The authority park had asked Crafton Tull to complete a report on the three proposed sites before the board's next meeting, scheduled for Wednesday.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority, which has been formed to help create the first technology park in the region, is a joint venture by the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the city of Little Rock, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

According to the letter from Crafton Tull, the technology park will take up 1 million square feet and will feature multiple buildings that are planned to be four stories and 25,000 square feet each. The firm also said in the letter that parking on the site will be about 20 percent surface parking and 80 percent structured parking.

Crafton Tull's site plan at 701 Collins St. features nine buildings spread over the site with four designated parking decks. The site would have a main entry on Sixth Street. The firm estimates the site to have about 31.5 usable acres for the park.

The letter states that existing structures on the site would cost about $1.3 million to demolish. The site comes near the Woodruff House, which was built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette, William E. Woodruff. The letter states that because of the irregularity and size of the lot, along with the historical nature of the house, the firm recommends it not be included in the tech-park site plan.

The site plan at the southwest corner of Asher and University avenues includes 10 buildings and five designated parking decks. The site is divided into two areas separated by a flood plain. The firm states in the letter that the west parcel of the site has 14.82 usable acres, and the east parcel contains 18.97 usable acres. The letter also states that existing creeks on the site could be made into water features.

Structures on that site would cost about $1.75 million to demolish, the firm told the park authority.

The site plan from the 1900 block to the 2200 block of John Barrow Road includes eight buildings, four designated parking decks and a water feature in the center of the site.

The firm states in the letter that because of available property and surface configuration, four of the buildings and all parking structures would have to be taller to meet the overall site plan of 1 million square feet. Crafton Tull suggested that four of the buildings be increased to six stories with a "equivalent increase" in parking decks.

The site plan projects the area to have 29.42 usable acres. The letter does not include any cost for demolishing any existing structures on the site.

Charles Dilks, a consultant to the tech park and president of Dilks Consulting Inc., said in a Feb. 6 letter to board chair Mary Good that the three remaining sites are "questionable at best."

"Accordingly, I recommend looking for a more appropriate development site," Dilks wrote.

In a Sept. 28 letter to Good, Dilks mentioned four sites that "appear to have superior characteristics to the others although marginal when measured against our criteria."

Dilks listed each of the three sites reviewed by Crafton Tull, along with a site at 1 Allied Drive in the River Front Plaza.

Dilks wrote that each site had "a number of unfavorable characteristics" and none of the sites would be "superior" to the others. Dilks suggested in the letter that the tech park "move with caution" in selecting one of the sites.

The park authority board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Bailey Alumni Center in Engel Hall on the UALR campus.

The agenda states the board will hear a report from Crafton Tull on the three proposed sites.

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