14-Story First Security Center Planned in River Market

by Gwen Moritz  on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2002 2:19 pm  

Two weeks ago, First Security Bancorp of Searcy told Arkansas Business that it might build a new office building in downtown Little Rock, but not immediately.

Since then, the pieces must have fallen into place.

On Tuesday, First Security's CEO Reynie Rutledge announced that his bank holding company had joined with Moses Tucker Investments LLC of Little Rock and hotel operator McKibbon Brothers Inc. of Gainesville, Ga., to build a 14-story, $23 million hotel/office/condominium building at the southwest corner of President Clinton Avenue and Sherman Street in the River Market District.

The brick building designed by Wittenberg Delony & Davidson and built by CDI Contractors of Little Rock will be the tallest in the historic district.

Rutledge said the building will back up to a $6.7 million, 650-space parking deck that the city of Little Rock will build on Second Street between Sherman and Commerce Streets. That parking deck is one of two planned downtown by the city, according to Mike Dooley, the city's director of economic development. It also will be designed by the Wittenberg firm.

First Security Center occupants and other nearby businesses are expected to sign long-term leases in the deck, Dooley said, and those will provide a revenue stream to support revenue bonds for the construction.

But exactly when the deck will be built is not certain.

"Obviously, it needs to be on line when the hotel opens, so my guess would be middle to late next year," Dooley said.

First Security Center will occupy the spot where the city and Moses Tucker previously tried to lure American Management Corp. of Conway.

The first floor will include a branch of First Security Bank, the first in the Little Rock market, restaurant space and the lobby of a nationally branded luxury hotel that will occupy all of the second through sixth floors. The 115 room hotel will likely be a Marriott or Hilton, according to John McKibbon, CEO of McKibbon Brothers.

"This will be our first property in Arkansas," McKibbon said. "I can't think of a location where a hotel has a better opportunity to succeed. With the Clinton Library, Acxiom Corp. and Heifer International as our neighbors, we believe we'll run an unusually high room occupancy."

First Security will have about three floors of office space in addition to the ground-floor branch bank. Of the 200 First Security employees expected to work in the building, about 160 will be employees of First Security-owned brokerage Crews & Associates.

Moses Tucker will build 24 luxury condominiums in the upper floors. They will range in size from 1,000 SF to 2,400 SF, and they will be priced at $250,000-$500,000. Moses Tucker also built condominiums in the newly completed Capital Commerce Center at 200 Commerce St.

"Our success with the sale of condominiums at the Capital Commerce Center has proven that people like living in the heart of the city," partner Jimmy Moses said. "The views and amenities we have to offer our condominium owners will be unparalleled in Arkansas."

The First Security Center will be entirely owner-occupied, with no lease office space available, Rutledge said.



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