State Poised For Second Sustainable Acquisition with Mann on Main Property

by George Waldon  on Monday, Apr. 8, 2013 12:00 am  

“Moses Tucker approached us that they had other ideas for the Arkla building and that we would need to find new space, and they were willing to help us do that,” said Dan McDonald, administrator of the state Office of Child Support Enforcement.

Envious leasing agents and developers wish they could have made a pitch with a competing proposal. But the project followed a path that didn’t include an open request for proposals.

“When the state is going to be a future owner, then the RFP process is not required,” Laidlaw said. “We pretty much get to handpick those. It’s far more subjective. It’s what the private sector is willing to do for us.”

Moses Tucker entered the ownership picture at Arkla Plaza in October 2005 when the project was purchased from the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, and the firm soon had an eye toward redeveloping the property.

“I think 2009 was initially their schedule to begin the redevelopment of the property, but of course, all the stars did not line up, so we extended the lease for another two years,” Laidlaw said.

“During that two-year period, a number of maintenance issues began mounting up, and it was clear that the building was in much need of some repairs. So, we re-negotiated the lease in late 2010 for a number of improvements and repairs to be completed and extended the term until June 30, 2013.”

Along the way, different options were explored for housing OCSE, including new construction on property controlled by Moses Tucker. However, the numbers for developing a new office building didn’t work from the pricing standpoint.

The focus shifted to redeveloping an existing building, the former flagship of the Blass Department Store chain, a property owned by Doyle Rogers since December 1999. Rogers died in February.

Moses Tucker gave verbal notice in mid-2011 of its intention to relocate OCSE from Arkla Plaza as soon as feasible accommodations could be secured. That was when the Blass Building redevelopment proposal (later renamed Mann On Main) was presented to state officials.

Building a 300-slot parking garage on adjoining property would provide the dedicated parking to support state employees. Moses Tucker joined the ownership of the former Blass property in June 2012 after the needed tax credit financing was squared away.

The Mann On Main deal was examined by the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration as part of the review process.

“The project is a furtherance of what people want to see happen in downtown Little Rock and along Main Street,” said Richard Weiss, director of DF&A. “For that, it sounds like a good deal that meets several needs.”



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