Retail Rebounds in Little Rock Market

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011 12:00 am  

Signs of life return to the greater Little Rock retail scene as empty dtorefronts draw new tenants, such as such as the Apple Store set to open Aug. 20.

The Little Rock-area retail scene continues rebounding, evidenced anecdotally and statistically.

Changes during the past 12 months reflect positive activity in the Pulaski County retail market, as recorded by the Central Arkansas Commercial Data Exchange.

Retail occupancy improved from 89.4 percent to nearly 91.2 percent, according to the affiliation of local commercial real estate professionals who pool sales and leasing information for office, retail and industrial properties.

The amount of vacant retail space was reduced from nearly 1.8 million SF in 2010 to about 1.5 million SF this year.

Improved leasing activity came calling on two west Little Rock lifestyle centers slowed by the two-year economic lull: 278,000-SF Shackleford Crossings and The Promenade at Chenal, a 241,000-SF development.

"It's all starting to get absorbed, but I don't see any new retail center coming soon," said Isaac Smith, principal at Colliers International in Little Rock.

Occupancy at Shackleford Crossings is at 70 percent, with potential leases pushing that figure to 85 percent by year's end.

The momentum swing is especially dramatic at RED Development's The Promenade at Chenal, where since January about 50,000 SF of tenants have opened or have begun the process of opening shop.

"We project that we will be close to 90 percent leased by the end of the year, not opened, but leased," said Ron Lazenby, owner's representative at The Promenade at Chenal.

Joining the rent roll are a Nike store, 12,000 SF; W by Azwell, women's clothing, 10,000 SF; J. Crew, 5,000 SF; and Big Orange restaurant, 3,500 SF.

Lazenby said more deals should be finalized soon, resulting in more announcements during the next few weeks.

"All the nationals are out roaming around again," he said. "It's nice to see them out and about."

Other new Promenade tenants include Crazy 8, children's apparel and accessories, 1,500 SF; Perfume Max, 1,500 SF; Warren's Shoes, 1,400 SF; Francesca's Collections, women's apparel and accessories, 1,200 SF; and Select Comfort, bedding products, 1,000 SF.



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