Retail Leasing Sees Increases Continue

by George Waldon  on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 2:38 pm  

Strode Properties Co. of Dallas continues progress on its Park Avenue project with construction of a Jared Jewelers. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

The market for retail space in Pulaski County continues to tighten as occupancy reached 92.3 percent during the first quarter of 2012.

During the past two years, that quarterly figure stood at 89.4 percent in 2010 and 90.2 percent in 2011, as recorded by the Central Arkansas Commercial Data Exchange.

The affiliation of local commercial real estate professionals who pool sales and leasing information for office, retail and industrial properties keeps tabs on 357 retail properties with more than 16.7 million SF under roof.

The demand for sizable blocks of space is building but hasn’t reached the tipping point to launch construction of a new, large development.

“If you listen to all the gossip around town, there’s 500,000 SF of retail looking for a place to land,” said Jeff Yates, partner at Little Rock’s Irwin Partners.

“I’m representing 100,000 SF of retail circling for a place to land, and that’s just little old me. I know there are others out there.

“From a bringing-new-tenants-to-town perspective, all the good deals are gone, and we’re out of space. Somebody needs to step up and build some new product.”

The proposed home of the Gateway Town Center in southwest Little Rock saw a spark of activity with the announced construction start of a 120,000-SF Bass Pro Shops this summer.

The 30-acre development is part of a 169-acre tract at the northwest corner of Interstates 30 and 430. An upscale outlet mall is planned for another 30 acres of the property, Little Rock developer Tommy Hodges said.

The mall will follow about a year behind the opening of the Bass Pro Shops, Hodges said.

Nearly six years ago, the property was envisioned as the future home of a 578,000-SF lifestyle center, largely located on the never developed, 120-acre Otter Creek Mall site.

Occupancy at three of the newest retail projects in the market keeps climbing. A string of new leases totaling about 25,000 SF recently visited Shackleford Crossings in west Little Rock.



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