Occupancy, Interest Fuel Industrial Market Optimism

by George Waldon  on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 2:46 pm  

The former Target distribution center in Maumelle is now the online fulfillment center for Little Rock’s Dillard’s Inc. (Photo by Dustin Nevill)

Industrial space occupancy in the Pulaski County Market improved to 87.7 percent this spring, compared to 84.3 percent a year ago. Those figures are ginned from 864 properties with more than 45 million SF tracked by the Central Arkansas Commercial Data Exchange.

Dan Robinson, president of Little Rock’s NAI Dan Robinson & Associates, said that his phone is ring more these days.

“People are calling and looking,” Robinson said. “I just came from a meeting at the Greater Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, and they’ve seen more activity in the past couple months than they’ve had in a long time. They didn’t talk about specifics, but they’re really upbeat.”

Three sizable properties were visited by new levels of activity. Two bargain sales in Little Rock were among the mix.

Goodwill Industries of Arkansas bought the 572,800-SF former Lucent Technologies project at 7400 Scott Hamilton Drive for about $2.5 million. The 57.3-acre development was listed for $6.7 million.

“That’s the kind of deals we’re seeing,” said Rick Freeling, vice president of RPM Commercial. “It has to be a really good deal.”

The Goodwill purchase was preceded by the March sale of the former Affiliated Foods headquarters at 12103 Interstate 30 for $1.7 million. Tom Bartholomew, founder and owner of Little Rock’s CalArk Trucking, bought the 64.2-acre development with 566,000-SF of warehouse space under roof.

“We’re getting a little bit more activity,” Freeling said. “We’re receiving calls from manufacturers. Usually, that’s a fairly good indicator that the economy is doing a little bit better. They’re seeing demand, and once they do, they start inquiring about space.”

The former Target distribution center at 600 Carnahan Drive in Maumelle showed new life as the online fulfillment center for Little Rock’s Dillard’s Inc.

In May, Dillard’s notified Tennessee officials that it would lay off 125 workers at its 258,000-SF center in Nashville when it moves those operations to Maumelle.

Drew Holbert, industrial specialist with the Little Rock office of Colliers International, said the financing climate is really inviting and helping stir the market, with local lenders willing to deal with really attractive terms.

“Activity is definitely up, and we’re pretty excited and optimistic about it,” he said.

“There are considerably more buyers than tenant prospects. That’s something I haven’t seen in the last 36 months.”

Holbert said that with a presidential election looming in November, some players are hesitant to pull the trigger on some transactions, opting to wait and see what shakes out on the political front.

But it has potential to be something that is very much worth waiting for, Holbert said

“There are some deals out there that will be good for the market, if and when they come back around,” he said.

 

 

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