Group to Redevelop Lafayette Building, 4 Others for Condos, Mixed-use

by Lance Turner  on Monday, Sep. 19, 2005 11:53 am  

Six months after buying the Lafayette, Arkansas and M.M. Cohn buildings, a Woodland, Calif., real estate development group unveiled plans to renovate those and two others for condominium, office and retail space.

Lafayette Square, developed by Tower Investments LLC and local partner Colliers Dickson Flake Partners, will also include the Kahn and Boyle buildings on Sixth Street between Louisiana and Main streets. The groups plan to renovate all five buildings, installing two levels of parking, improving facades and providing modern amenities. Upscale condominiums in the buildings will sell for between $160,000 and $325,000, developers said.

Tower Investments, a private, family-owned firm, would not disclose renovation and construction costs for the project and said only that the company's investment was "substantial."

But Arkansas Business reported last month that with its partnership with Colliers Dickson Flake Partners, Tower bought the 130,000-SF Lafayette Building for $2 million, the 28,000-SF Arkansas Annex at 514 S. Main St. and the 56,000-SF Arkansas Building at 524 Main St. for $870,000, and the 12-story, 100,000-SF Boyle Building at 103 W. Capitol Ave. for $600,000.

Speaking at a news conference Monday morning in the lobby of the Lafayette Building at Louisiana and Sixth streets, Dickson Flake said Tower's investment provides the Main Street-area market "real validation" and said he hoped the project would be a catalyst for more development there. He said Lafayette Square has the potential to spur development in the Main Street corridor much the way the Central Arkansas Library building did in the River Market.

Phase I of the project is set to begin in November. The group will renovate floors six through 10 of the Lafayette Building, adding one- and two-bedroom condominiums featuring granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and controlled access entry. Developers hope to be finished with that building, a former hotel, in May.

Phase II, set to begin next summer and last about 12 months, will entail renovations to the other four properties, adding retail space to ground floors and condominiums to upper floors.

In all, Tower plans 94 condominiums at Lafayette Square ranging in size from 1,058 SF to 1,746 SF.

Ross McCain, lead architect on the project for the Wilcox Group of Little Rock, said renovations in the second phase will include tearing out the back half of the Boyle, M.M. Cohn, Kahn and Arkansas buildings to make way for two levels of basement-level parking and remove antiquated utilities and mechanisms from the old structures. Most of the buildings, except the recently tweaked Lafayette Building, will see repairs and improvements to their facades.

"In the end, these will be really nice units and a fun place to live," McCain said.

Tower also owns the YMCA Building on Broadway in Little Rock and has said it plans to develop that building, as well.

Click for more on the development.



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