Hendrix College's Real Estate Moves Bearing Fruit

by Kate Knable  on Monday, Nov. 26, 2012 12:00 am  

More than six years after the Hendrix College board of trustees approved plans to build The Village at Hendrix, the Conway college is seeing progress in its commitment both to “new urbanism” and a nonprofit/for-profit approach to real estate development.

The Village at Hendrix LLC, a Hendrix College-owned and supervised LLC, is busily partnering with the nonprofit college at a variety of levels to populate with houses, apartments and commercial businesses a 92-acre tract adjacent to the college. College athletic facilities and student housing are included in the mix.

The Village at Hendrix, a “new traditionalist” or new urbanist development, sits east of the main part of Hendrix College’s campus.

For examples of the nonprofit/for-profit partnerships: The LLC oversaw the demolition of Hendrix College’s indoor tennis courts on Steel Avenue within The Village last week to make way for a new $6 million building, Market Square South. The LLC is selling the lower portion of Market Square South, and a Delta Trust & Bank branch and a Purple Cow restaurant will eventually be located there. Hendrix College is assuming ownership of the new building’s two upper stories to use as student housing.

Also last week, a crew from Chenal Heating & Air of Little Rock installed HVAC pipe inside the ceiling of a new house under construction on Sanders Street. The LLC has sold the house, according to a sign on the front lawn.

The LLC has so far built about 40 houses, ranging from 1,200 to 3,200 SF in size. They sell for between $170,000 and $450,000 apiece.

Additionally, the LLC built Hendrix Creek Preserve, which is part park and part eco-friendly drainage system. The endeavor was “twice as expensive as traditional storm water management,” said Ward Davis, the LLC’s chief executive officer. “That would be very, very challenging for a for-profit to pull off.”

However, the business works for a nonprofit, Davis said, and has to balance joint obligations of making money and serving the college’s mission. And the college wanted the ecological benefits of the preserve, as well as a site for its science students to study groundwater or do water acidity testing.

‘Non-Income Producing Asset’

Hendrix College has owned the land where The Village at Hendrix now sits since 1931. For decades, the land wasn’t used for much more than practice fields for athletic teams and growing timber.

In 2002, then-Acxiom CEO Charles Morgan and other business leaders serving on the college’s board of trustees supported using the land for income.

Hendrix College President Timothy Cloyd quoted Morgan as saying, “There’s a non-income producing asset across the street.”



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