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By the end of the year, the Technology Park Authority Board plans to choose an architect to design another building to add to the park's downtown Little Rock campus.

The top three firms that responded to the board's request for qualifications will be invited to speak at its Dec. 13 meeting. A selection will be made after those presentations.

Respondents vying for the job are AMR Architects; Cromwell Architects Engineers; Looney Ricks Kiss; Polk Stanley Architects; Witsell Evans Rasco Architects/Planners; and Wittenberg, Delony and Davidson Architects.

Tech park Director Brent Birch said a hard timeline hasn't been set for finishing the second building, but the plan is to have it open for business within five years.

Currently the park operates out of one building on Main Street, which was Phase 1 of a six-phase plan. There are 39 active companies or solo entrepreneurs working from that building.

Phase 2 is to construct a six-story building on the adjacent property between the tech park and the KATV building on Main Street. The tech park already owns the property.

The plan is to build a mix of office and wet and dry laboratory space. Wet labs are those where chemicals, drugs or other biological matter are tested and analyzed using water. Dry labs are those where computers or computer-generated models are used for analysis.

That building could become the main entrance to the future tech park campus, Birch said.

Recruitment for the future office and lab space hasn't begun but will start once artist renderings are available to show the vision of the new building.

The park currently nets about $48,000 a month in income, not counting any debt payments.

The city of Little Rock promised the park $22 million of the proceeds from a 2011 sales tax that will expire in 2021 to help pay for capital costs.

The tax hasn't collected as much as estimated, and the amount the tech park will receive is now estimated at $20,717,488, a letter from the park states.

The park has generally asked the city to allocate what has accrued of that money at the end of each year. It has already collected $8 million so far. The city Board of Directors voted Tuesday to dole out the $1,687,810 that has accrued this year.

Birch said the tech park will use that money to start paying down the principal on a loan taken out to complete the first phase of the park, even though payments on the principal aren't due until 2019.

The board "wanted to go ahead and start reducing the project's debt," Birch said. "The tech park plans to have the debt retired by the time the city sales tax allocation expires in 2021."

The tech park board adopted a policy recently to apply all net income in excess of operating expenses to interest payments on its loans for the first phase. Any remaining, as well as distributions of tax revenue from the city, will be applied to the principal amount on the debt.

"No Tech Park development expenses beyond the existing Phase I will be committed, except for the initial programming and schematic design of Phase II, until additional funding sources are obtained," the policy states.

It also said the combination of net revenue and sales tax distributions will likely leave the park short about $2 million of paying off its debt by 2021, but that is still the goal.

John Burgess, president and co-founder of Mainstream Technologies, was elected as chairman of the Tech Park board earlier this month.

Metro on 11/24/2017

Print Headline: Selecting firm for tech-park job on agenda; Board seeks to pick phase 2 architect before year’s end

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  • RBear
    November 24, 2017 at 6:24 a.m.

    The Tech Park continues to show responsible management of its investment and assets. The growth seen by the Park is evident in the fact it has a net income from tenants and other activities. It is also approaching the catalyst phase where there is enough activity within the Park to draw additional tenants. It's how these incubators grow and thrive. This activity will spill into the community around it, just as it has in many other urban centers.
    It's also good to see Johnny Burgess as the new chair of the Park. John's leadership at Mainstream has led to continued growth and innovation from a company that grew from small beginnings.

  • Foghorn
    November 24, 2017 at 8:06 a.m.

    I want nothing more than for LR and the Tech Park to succeed spectacularly. The facts that tax rev was sub par and that a $2M deficit for a 2021 payoff are concerning, however. There is a glut of venture capital funding out there and none of it seems to be flowing here. There also seems to be more businesses moving to NLR (ie, Argenta.) I’d like to see an interview with someone like Bill Halter on this topic and what the Tech Park needs to do differently in order to attract more companies and startups. He was a very successful VC and has a hugely successful business - Scenic Hill Solar - also based in NLR. Still can’t believe we didn’t elect that guy governor when we had the chance.