River Market Tower Developer Forecasts 50% Condo Occupancy by Mid-Summer

by George Waldon and Sam Eifling  on Monday, Apr. 26, 2010 12:00 am  

Partners Rett Tucker, left, and Jimmy Moses see improved condo sales.

Financial market conditions in 2008 gave Jimmy Moses plenty of opportunity to second-guess the wisdom of launching the River Market Tower. The 131-unit condominium project at 315 Rock St. is his firm's most ambitious development to date in downtown Little Rock.

Last year, it wasn't difficult to discern that beneath his normally upbeat persona lurked concern for what unwelcome developments the future might bring.

"We feel better about things than we have in a long time," Moses, partner at Little Rock's Moses Tucker Real Estate, said last week.

With only 23 sales during its first 10 months of closed transactions, it might appear that Moses is whistling in the graveyard. That's half the total sold during the first 10 months of closed transactions at Moses Tucker's 300 Third condominium project.

But that comparison is misleading because closed sales don't tell the full story.

Moses said an additional 27 units are in the process of selling through installment purchases, contracts or pending sales. That includes one recent transaction that hasn't hit the public record yet: a $1 million sale on the 17th floor.

"That was a very good event in every sense of the word," Moses said of the big transaction. "We think the market is slightly improved and certainly better than it was this time last year. We think we'll be at 50 percent occupancy by early to mid-summer, which would be a major feat in this market.

"Little Rock, thank God, has performed as a market among the best in the nation. Most cities would kill for our economy."

Funding Package Reworked

The 1.2-acre development's original $52.3 million funding package with Little Rock's Metropolitan National Bank was reworked last year, and borrower and banker remain together moving forward.

"We're pleased with our lender, and they believe in us," Moses said. "They have been absolutely phenomenal to work with, a true partner in every sense of the word."

The loosening of last year's lending restrictions by regulators combined with activity at the project sets the stage for improved sales, too. Recorded sales at River Market Tower total nearly $10.3 million.

"We've had enough success that we've found some other Arkansas lenders willing to work with our buyers," Moses said. "That's been really gratifying as we move forward. We don't have to rely on five-year financing like we did only six months ago.



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