Run On Retail Space Has Phones Ringing

by George Waldon  on Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 12:00 am  

He also anticipates construction to begin next year on three outparcels, which have drawn letters of intent from a restaurant and a national retailer. The third location will become home to a branch for Malvern National Bank, set to join First Security Bank at Gateway Town Center.

Farther south, the Retail Connection of Dallas is championing the proposed Benton Town Center. The opening phase of the retail center would encompass 516,000 SF on a 48-acre site at the northwest corner of Interstate 30 and Arkansas 229 on the south side of Benton.

In November, The Texas developer’s initial site plan listed three retailing chains as having signed letters of intent to set up shop at the project: Dick’s Sporting Goods, Michael’s and Ulta Beauty.

In June, the roster of retailers designated as having signed letters of intent expanded to include Bed Bath & Beyond, T.J. Maxx, Encore Shoes, Rack Room Shoes, Dressbarn, Maurices, Charming Charlie, Monarch Dental, Texas Roadhouse, The Children’s Place and Claire’s.

Meanwhile, the market tension between new and existing retail space continues to build.

“There are retailers out there who would come to Little Rock if the space and price was right,” Yates said. “The retailers are wanting those lower, single-digit rents from second generation space. Those deals are about gone.

“As long as the retailers can keep finding those cheap deals, they are willing to skip over a market,” Yates said. “They are in bargain-shopping mode and are snapping up bargains wherever can find them.

“It’s not just when our market runs out of available big box space. Other markets have to run out of inventory. Then, we’ll see more new construction.”

The biggest block of empty retail space awaiting a deal in the market, at 76,000 SF, is the former Wal-Mart store in the Levy area of North Little Rock.

At last report, the one-time home of Brandon House Furniture is under contract in a deal that could bring new life to the 130,000-SF building at 1100 S. University Ave. in Little Rock.

James Barnes BBA Solutions hopes to buy it, use about 30,000 SF for his BBA Solutions college textbook venture and lease out the remaining space.

The 43,000-SF former Sports Authority store at 11700 Chenal Parkway is on the drawing boards to be converted into an LA Fitness facility.



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