Main Street Reclamation Gains Momentum

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Aug. 13, 2012 12:00 am  

Some structure resurrection work began along Little Rock’s Main Street in the first week of August.

The effort of local investors is a $20 million project to convert decades-vacant Blass store buildings into apartments and retail and office space at the corner of Fourth and Main streets. The project is slated to finish in June 2013.

The Blass Department Store was a major retailer in Little Rock for scores of years until Dillard’s bought it in 1964.  

The project at Fourth and Main is one of several to spring up in that part of downtown Little Rock.

Sharon Priest, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, said Scott Reed and other investors with Reed Realty Advisors in Portland, Ore., were the first in recent years to buy and begin rehabbing an old building on Main Street. The building that currently houses Porter’s Jazz Cafe at 315 Main St. is Reed’s ongoing project.

(Reed has had trouble finishing residential work he’s started in Little Rock. The Arkansas Development Finance Authority took ownership from Reed’s company of most of 30 residential properties because of a lack of renovation progress and some unpaid bills.)

Stephens Inc. also is converting the former federal exchange bank building at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Main Street into state offices for the Department of Higher Education, Priest said. A Stephens spokesman declined to answer questions.

“We’re starting to see some action happening, sort of like a 10-year overnight success,” Priest said. “We’re starting to see people make investments.”

Only one vacant Main Street building — the Donaghey Building — between Capitol Avenue and Sixth Street isn’t under contract with a buyer who has renovation plans, she said. She declined to share details of other pending projects.

“I think it’s going to be hustling and bustling,” Priest said of downtown.

A group led by Reed  closed a deal last Thursday to buy the buildings at 500, 510, 514 and 524 Main St. The seller was Lafayette Plaza LLC. Once renovated, the upper floors will be residential and the ground level commercial, Reed said.

The most recent renovations to start in the area are at the adjacent Blass buildings, where demolition and asbestos abatement began this month.

 

 

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