UALR Seeks to Include Neighborhoods in Its Success

by Jamie Walden  on Monday, Nov. 30, 2009 12:00 am  

(Editor's Note: This is the latest in a series of business history feature stories. Suggestions for future "Fifth Monday" articles are welcome. Please contact Gwen Moritz at (501) 372-1443 or by e-mail at gmoritz@abpg.com.)

What began 82 years ago as Little Rock Junior College, tucked away in a few classrooms on the second floor of what is now known as Little Rock Central High School, has developed into a behemoth higher education institution that occupies more than 2.5 million SF under roof on more than 272 acres in central Arkansas.

And the explosive growth of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock is by no means slackening.

In addition, the school has tackled the revitalization of the area surrounding its campus. UALR's strategic growth plan will benefit homeowners and potential homebuyers in nearby neighborhoods. Participants in a program fostered by UALR could be eligible for a $20,000 tax credit.

"We are of the view that the fate of the city and the fate of the university are intertwined," said Chancellor Joel Anderson. "And if the city prospers, the university prospers. If the city suffers, the university suffers."

"So that brings with it an obligation on our part to do what we can to make the community a healthier and better place to live and work," he said.

UALR recently completed two bond issues, the proceeds of which will fund, among other things, a dormitory for up to 400 honors students and the school's first outdoor athletic complex.

The most recent bond issue, sold at about 4.4 percent and completed a couple of weeks ago, generated $30 million, which will fund the $23 million student housing facility and the $4 million sports complex.

The 18- to 20-month dorm project is expected to be much like the existing dorm - about 137,000 SF of apartment-style spaces. The school expects to break ground in early 2010 on the site, which is currently a parking lot immediately west of the current dorm.

The new soccer and track and field complex, which comes in response to growing demand, Anderson said, will be the university's first facility built south of Asher Avenue.

"One of the first things it's going to do that we're excited about is upgrade and strengthen our intramural program," Anderson said. "And that's been a need for a long time, and it's one that only grows as you have more students living on campus."

The facility will also bolster the arsenal of athlete recruiters.

 

 

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