Southwest Power Pool Eyes West Little Rock Site for $63 Million Campus

by George Waldon  on Friday, Feb. 26, 2010 5:32 am  

Nicholas Brown, president and CEO of Southwest Power Pool, says the new campus will help the firm focus on providing member services.

Plans for a $62.5 million office development for Southwest Power Pool Inc. center on a 20-acre site in west Little Rock. reported Thursday that Southwest Power Pool, which oversees an electricity power grid in eight states, has plans for a 150,000-SF office building and a 33,000-SF operations center.

"It will be the biggest deal around here in a very long time," said Jim Hathaway, a veteran Little Rock commercial developer.

The project would allow the not-for-profit corporation to consolidate its Little Rock operations and house an expanded staff envisioned to include 150 new workers during the next three years.

"It will bring us all together on one campus," said Emily Pennel, communications manager at Southwest Power Pool. "We looked at existing buildings and properties all around Little Rock. We have not signed a contract yet. We're still in negotiations."

Southwest Power Pool looked at more than 30 properties since the corporate campus plan took life 18 months ago, and the final details of an acquisition should be hammered out in the next few weeks.

Likely Site

The most publicized site considered was an 18-acre tract at the northeast corner of Rahling Road and Chenal Drive owned by the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System.

But a 20-acre site south of the Kroger Marketplace under construction at 16105 Chenal Parkway is labeled by some as the leading candidate. The property is part of an 80-acre tract that Whisenhunt Investment Group LLC hopes to develop into an office park.

(See a rending of the project at the end of the story or click here to see a full-size version.)

"They're committed to the deal," Joe Whisenhunt Jr. said of Southwest Power Pool. "It's just a matter of getting through all the legalities."

Among the remaining chores are taking care of zoning and land-use issues with Little Rock officials and eventually getting the property annexed into the city.



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