Hendrix College's Real Estate Moves Bearing Fruit

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

The school considered selling the acreage to developers for about $18 million, Cloyd said, but concluded that would only provide short-term financial gain.

“If we’d done that, a developer may have bought it and there might’ve been big box stores over here,” college spokesman Frank Cox said. The leadership preferred a longer term view, with 50 to 100 years in mind, he said.

Consultants helping Hendrix with a long-term growth plan told the school that its student recruitment potential was limited because of the college’s lack of connection to Conway’s downtown.

“Students wanted a feel of urbanism and a feel of a vibrant, active social life,” Cloyd said.

The college opted to create its own community, similar to Princeton University’s development of Princeton, N.J., Cloyd said.

The plan developed in 2006 called for a 10-year, $85 million development with up to 700 total residences, including apartment units.

That plan has changed somewhat. Southwestern Energy of Houston built a $25 million, 120,000-SF facility in The Village. And the Hendrix Creek Preserve has taken up 18 of the 92 acres.

The LLC now expects to build about 400 residential units total, Finn said.

The land plan “has flexibility built in,” Cloyd said. The city of Conway passed an ordinance providing zoning leeway that allows for market sensitivity. As a result, when the LLC couldn’t pre-sell townhomes very well, it chose to build high-end apartments instead, the LLC’s COO, Lawrence Finn, said.

And the college, which is investing in student housing in The Village, could choose to sell the student apartments back to the LLC down the road and repurpose them, Finn said.

Davis, the LLC’s CEO, said the college’s goals for The Village include enhancing college life for students, faculty and staff; integrating the college more into the city; and earning a financial return for the school’s endowment.

But Hendrix College’s leaders didn’t want directly to manage a development project.



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