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4 downtown LR buildings sold for retail-apartment project

by Jack Weatherly | August 10, 2012 at 12:33 a.m.

— An Oregon developer said Thursday that he has purchased four adjacent buildings in the 500 block of Main Street in Little Rock and plans a mixed-use project, with retail space on the ground floor and apartments above.

The project was finalized Wednesday and “everybody’s got his money,” developer Scott Reed said by telephone from Portland, Ore. He would not disclose the sale price. The deeds to the property evidently had not been filed as of Thursday afternoon.

His company, Reed Realty Advisors, also was contractor for the recent renovation of a building at 315 Main, a former warehouse for a department store. The building is now home to Porter’s Jazz Cafe, which opened last year. Preparatory work for the loft apartments above the cafe has been completed, Reed said.

The buildings on the west side of the 500 block were purchased from Tower Investments LLC of Woodland, Calif., which had planned several years ago for them to be part of Lafayette Square, a project that included the old Lafayette Hotel on the other side of the same block. Tower later scaled back its plans to just the hotel, which is now a mixed-use building with condominiums.

The buildings, some of which date to the late 19th century, are the 12-story Boyle Building at the corner of Main and Capitol Avenue, the MM Cohn Building, the Arkansas Building and the Annex Building.

“A year ago, all these buildings were empty and there were no plans for them. It’s pretty exciting for Main Street,” said Sharon Priest, executive director of the Little Rock Downtown Partnership.

She said Metrocentre Improvement District taxes on the building are owed, totaling about $25,000.

Mayor Mark Stodola said of the proposed development, “I think it’s a great stimulus and good jump-start for that area.”

The acquisition would anchor an arts district, planning for which was aided by a $150,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stodola said.

Marlon Blackwell, head of the Fay Jones School of Architecture at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and Steve Luoni, who teaches architecture at the university, were the primary designers of the plan, Stodola said.

“We’ve met extensively over the last year about those plans” which include a corridor on Main from Seventh to Third streets. “These new owners, their vision is consistent with that,” Stodola said.

“Very shortly, we’ll be unveiling that information,” Stodola said.

“Main Street’s coming back. No doubt about it. Downtown Little Rock, and particularly Main Street, is the heart of not only the city but also the state.”

The new deal follows one announced in March by Doyle Rogers Co. and Moses Tucker Real Estate. That group plans a $20 million undertaking that will have 100,000 square feet of office space, street-level retail space and about 20 loft-style apartments in the former Blass Department Stores flagship at 324 Main St.

The seven-story Blass building was constructed in 1906 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Work on the project has begun, with expected completion in mid-2013.

Hank Kelley of Flake and Kelley real estate, which represented Tower Investments in the deal announced Thursday, said the property purchased by Reed includes a “very important corner. Historically, the corner at Main and Capitol was the center of the Metrocentre Improvement District.”

A news release from Reed said his company will apply for historic tax credits to assist it with the redevelopment and conversion of the upper floors of the buildings into loft apartments.

The buildings contain about 240,000 square feet. The plans call for a rooftop venue and on-site parking.

Front Section, Pages 1 on 08/10/2012

Print Headline: 4 downtown LR buildings sold for retail-apartment project


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