Hastings Family Plans to Makeover North Hills Shopping Center in Sherwood

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Aug. 12, 2013 12:00 am  

A preliminary site plan by RPPY Architects shows the transformation envisioned for the venerable shopping center at the intersection of JFK (Highway 107) and North Hills boulevards on the border of North Little Rock and Sherwood. Ground will be broken Aug. 27 on the retail building at the south edge of the property now owned by the Harry Hastings Jr. family. (Photo by RPPY Architects/Gwen Moritz)

Ground will be broken this month on a 5,000-SF spec retail building that developers hope will inject new life into North Hills Shopping Center, the crumbling commercial strip on the dividing line between North Little Rock and Sherwood at the busy intersection of JFK and North Hills boulevards.

“We think it’s a good area, but sometimes you have to start moving dirt to make anything happen,” said Stan Hastings, whose family has been part of the shopping center’s ownership since the 1950s.

The groundbreaking, scheduled for Aug. 27, will begin the first of three phases of redevelopment. But the ball really started rolling three years ago, when the Hastings family — led by Stan’s father, Harry Hastings Jr. — and the family of Rolla Fitch unwound their 50-50 partnership in North Hills Development Corp. that dated back to the 1950s.

The families divided up the site. The Hastings clan kept the northern half, the part that touches the intersection of JFK and North Hills and extends south to the intersection of North Hills and Country Club Road.

The Hastingses’ property includes a branch of the family-owned Eagle Bank & Trust and the aging building that for decades was home to Mark’s Rexall Pharmacy. Mark’s closed in March with the retirement of pharmacist/owner Mark Speer; all that’s left in the building is Popatop North, a package liquor store owned by Dennis Davenport Jr.

The Fitches kept the southern half of the parcel, which is largely undeveloped but includes the strip building best known as the location of Gadwall’s Grill since its original home next door burned in 2007.

“We own all the asphalt,” Stan Hastings said, including the uphill driveway that leads to Gadwall’s. And that driveway is essentially where the new building will be planted, almost directly in front of Gadwall’s — “but a whole lot lower,” he said.

The topography of the site “is a huge issue. It’s an expensive issue,” Hastings said. A new access drive will be cut into the grade with direct access from one of Sherwood’s main thoroughfares, Country Club Road. A fourth arm will be added to what is currently a three-way stoplight, correcting the awkward ingress to the property.

Building permits had not yet been issued by the city of Sherwood last week, but Hastings said the combination of the drive and building would cost between $1.1 million and $1.2 million. The work should be completed in about eight months, he said.

The new building was designed by Tim Yelvington of Roark Perkins Perry Yelvington Architects in Little Rock, and the contractor is Dave Grundfest Co., also of Little Rock.

The one-story design is flexible enough to accommodate one, two or three retailers, Yelvington said. The design has a drive-through on the east end that could work for a pharmacy or dry cleaner, but the building is not suitable for a restaurant because it will have limited parking. The preliminary site plan calls for 26 parking spaces.

What business or businesses will occupy the new building is “the $64,000 question,” Hastings said. “At this point, we don’t have any tenants lined up,” he said.



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