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Tuesday, September 23, 2014, 11:42 a.m.
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Housing project reduces in scope

Building begins in downtown LR

By Jack Weatherly

This article was published August 2, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.

Moses Tucker Real Estate on Friday announced that it has begun construction on a significantly downsized version of the MacArthur Commons apartments at Capitol and River Market avenues that it unveiled one year earlier.

The project has "gone [through] several iterations in terms of scale and amenities," a release states. Consequently, the cost of it has dropped to $8 million from $13 million. The project is on the site of the former Arkla Gas Co. building.

There will be 59 "upscale" units spread over three stories. Last year, Moses Tucker announced 84 apartments in a four-floor building.

Moses Tucker is burdened with $17 million in debt on the River Market Tower, a condominium project completed in 2009 that as of June had 57 unsold units out of about 132.

Calls to Moses Tucker were not returned Friday.

Despite the downsizing, "the final plans did not deviate from the original idea of an architecturally appealing structure situated in a superior location," the release states.

As for amenities, plans released Friday for the building do not mention a swimming pool, as originally planned, nor the possibility of a 2,900-square-foot cafe or deli.

The new plan calls for secured parking, a fitness center and an arbor with fire pit.

The 20-story River Market Tower was opened just as the national recession was ending, though the economy is still struggling to regain its pre-recession footing.

In June, Jimmy Moses said in an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette interview that the project "was supposed to sell out -- and we would have loved for it to sell out -- in 2012, but we had a little recession that turned the world upside down."

It's possible the downsizing decision was influenced by the apartment market, not only in downtown but also elsewhere in metropolitan areas, said Ted Bailey, partner in the Multifamily Group, a research organization.

By the time MacArthur Commons is completed in September 2015, it will have company with several hundred more downtown apartments, including part of North Little Rock, said Richard Cheek, also with Multifamily.

"Maybe Moses Tucker realizes that there is quite a bit of product hitting that market," Bailey said.

In terms of development, downtown is a "hot" market, Bailey said.

The planned Little Rock Technology Park, which is to be built along Main Street, is fueling anticipation for more downtown jobs and presumed demand for living close by.

Including other relevant "submarkets," about 2,000 units are expected to be completed by 2016, according to Multifamily representatives.

And "one submarket can sometimes affect another," Bailey said.

Business on 08/02/2014

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