Tommy Hodges Brings Life to Dormant Mall Site with Gateway Town Center

by George Waldon  on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 12:00 am  

Otter Creek developer Tommy Hodges gets Gateway Town Center moving with two retail deals. [Photo by Jason Burt]

For a guy who recently landed a major traffic draw for a decades dormant commercial property, Tommy Hodges sounds downright bearish when assessing the Little Rock development scene.

"I don't think we're out of this funk," said Hodges of the market conditions.

His cautious take is understandable given the history of what was long advertised as the site of the Otter Creek Mall.

That ultra slow-burn fuse of a prospect measured in years of disappointment and inactivity has given way to the Gateway Town Center. The land at the northwest corner of Interstates 430 and 30 played host to unprecedented good news in June when Bass Pro Shops of Springfield, Mo., trumpeted that it would set up shop on 30 acres.

Next door, Joe Jackson Sr. of Boca Raton, Fla., and Rich Rucker of Silverdale, Wash., intend to develop a 265,000-SF outlet mall on land they have under contract.

Their 30-acre tract adjoins the east side of the Bass Pro property.

The regional retailer of hunting, fishing and outdoor supplies has toyed with entering the market for nearly a decade. Unlike past proposals, the company took the plunge, signed a purchase agreement for its property and announced plans to build a 120,000-SF store without seeking government subsidies.

Hodges expects the Bass Pro land sale to close this fall, with more activity trailing in the months to come.

First Security Bank of Searcy has a site under contract, and Hodges is working on a deal that could result in a second bank project.

"We're hoping to get Bass Pro under construction in October," he said. "We have the outlet mall that we think is a year behind them. We're going to be

busy this fall building the Bass Pro and with streets, utilities and such."

Hodges expects the sale of the outlet mall property to close and construction to begin by next summer. In addition to the retail projects in motion, three hotels and five restaurants are on the drawing board with office buildings planned for the west side of the property.



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