Building Sales Cause Dip In Office Occupancy

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jul. 23, 2012 12:00 am  

Southwest Power Pool is moving to a new west Little Rock campus. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

“There’s been a little bit of absorption, a little bit of contraction. It’s been fairly stagnant and been that way for a year and a half.”

Two long vacant buildings in the downtown market are in play at 318-324 Main St. The historic Blass Building, now dubbed Mann Building, at 324 Main St. will be converted to 100,000 SF of office space, 20 loft-style apartments and some retail.

The state Office of Child Support Enforcement will relocate from the Arkla Plaza at 400 E. Capitol Ave. and occupy about 65,000 SF.

“As it stands now, the plan is for the annex to be mainly apartments, and the ground floor across both buildings is retail,” said Martin, whose company Moses Tucker is developing the properties with the Doyle Rogers Co.

Bentley said the local office scene is holding its own compared to others around the country.

“The office market is still relatively flat,” Bentley said. “We had made up a bunch of ground the past year and half or so. The first quarter of this year we backed up a little bit (because of the Alltel property). But compared nationally, that’s a pretty strong office market.”

Greg Joslin, sales associate at Little Rock’s Irwin Partners, echoed that upbeat assessment of the local market.

“Optimistically, our labor market is strong and unemployment levels remain well below the national average,” Joslin said. “Those facts, when combined with the early stages of economic recovery and the results of world-class economic development efforts marketing the metro Little Rock region should prove fruitful in coming months and generate new demand for various commercial real estate assets including office.

“Money is cheap with banks eager to lend; it’s a great time to consider buying office property or lock in some attractive lease terms.”



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