Retail Leasing Activity Regains Momentum

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 12:00 am  

Changes during the past year reflect positive activity in the Pulaski County retail market, as recorded by the Central Arkansas Commercial Data Exchange.

Retail occupancy improved from 89.4 percent to nearly 91.2 percent, according to the affiliation of local commercial real estate professionals who pool sales and leasing information for office, retail and industrial properties.

The amount of vacant retail space was reduced from nearly 1.8 million SF in 2010 to about 1.5 million SF this year. Improved leasing activity is visiting two west Little Rock lifestyle centers slowed by the two-year economic lull: Shackleford Crossings (278,000 SF) and The Promenade at Chenal (241,000 SF).

“It’s all starting to get absorbed, but I don’t see any new retail center coming soon,” said Isaac Smith, principal at Colliers International in Little Rock.

Occupancy at Shackleford Crossings is at 70 percent, with potential leases pushing that figure to 85 percent by year’s end. The momentum swing is especially dramatic at The Promenade at Chenal, where since January about 50,000 SF of tenants have opened or have begun the process of opening.

“We project that we will be close to 90 percent leased by the end of the year — not opened, but leased,” said Ron Lazenby, owner’s representative at The Promenade at Chenal.

Joining the rent roll are a Nike store, 12,000 SF; W by Azwell, women’s clothing, 10,000 SF; J. Crew, 5,000 SF; and Big Orange restaurant, 3,500 SF.

Other tenants include Crazy 8, children’s apparel and accessories, 1,500 SF; Perfume Max, 1,500 SF; Warren’s Shoes, 1,400 SF; Francesca’s Collections, women’s apparel and accessories, 1,200 SF; and Select Comfort, bedding products, 1,000 SF.

Rounding out the list is the official unofficial Apple Store, 7,500 SF. More announcements are expected this summer.

“There’s definitely some activity compared to this time last year,” said Mark Bingman, associate broker at Little Rock’s Coldwell Banker RPM. “Everybody seems to be getting back into the game. This time last year, there just wasn’t that much interest.

“Are we ricocheting and bouncing back? I don’t know if I’d say that, but more players are looking for space.”

The Park Avenue Shopping Center in Little Rock’s midtown area was off and running with the opening of a 137,000-SF company-owned Target store last fall. The south end of the 28-acre development, which replaced University Mall, is home to the current round of activity, too.



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