The Top 10 Arkansas Business Stories of 2012: Making History

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Dec. 24, 2012 12:00 am  

The most eye-catching was Joe Whisenhunt’s $19 million cash deal for 375 acres of prime improved real estate in Benton County.

The Arkansas developer picked up land mostly in the famed Billion-Dollar Mile along Interstate 540 in Rogers through a series of transactions with affiliates of Bank of America.

The property was associated with bad loans totaling $80 million to three northwest Arkansas development groups led by Bill Schwyhart, Charles Reaves and Gary Brandon.

The sell-off of Gene Cauley’s once extensive real estate portfolio also continued. Among the 2012 highlights was the sale of four Little Rock properties.

Two parts of the Bowman Plaza office-warehouse project at 4700 Col. Glenn Road, totaling 175,000 SF, were sold out of court-appointed receivership for nearly $10.2 million to a local investment group.

Pavilion in the Park, an 82,000-SF office-retail project, was sold for $4.2 million to a local investment group.

A 572,800-SF industrial facility at 7400 Scott Hamilton Drive was sold for $2.4 million to Goodwill Industries of Arkansas Inc.

During 2012, Cauley was hit with an IRS lien of $2.3 million for outstanding taxes owed from 2007. It added to the $8.7 million Cauley owes on court-ordered restitution to clients he bilked, a crime that cost his law license and sent him to federal prison.

Developer Bruce Burrow of Jonesboro filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing $17.27 million in debts and $14.1 million in assets. The move followed a growing line of bankers seeking money on outstanding real estate-related loans.

In tangential matters, a $96 million deal was struck to sell The Mall at Turtle Creek, a 760,000-SF retail center in Jonesboro. The buyer to be is Rouse Properties Inc., a New York real estate investment trust.

The deal freed up cash for its owners, which included Burrow and Belz Enterprises of Memphis.

Belz also put a deal in motion to free up yet more cash by selling the 18-story Peabody Little Rock. The prospective buyer of the 418-room and 22-suite hotel in downtown Little Rock is Fairwood Capital LLC of Memphis.



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