Conway Studies Proposal for 400,000-SF Shopping Center

by Lee Hogan  on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 12:21 pm  

Plans by a North Carolina company to put a 400,000-SF shopping center east of Interstate 40 at the intersection of Amity Road and Dave Ward Drive in Conway. City officials say preliminary plans for the center have changed since this iteration.

Another large-scale shopping center could be on the way to Conway, as the city studies a North Carolina real estate firm's plans for a 400,000 SF development in the southeast corner of Amity Road and Dave Ward Drive.

Wes Craiglow, Conway's deputy director of planning and development, said city officials have been in talks with representatives of Collett of Charlotte, N.C., for about a year and are inching closer to a finished site plan, which Craiglow estimated to be 80 percent complete.

"That means how we are going to layout the 60 acres of property," he said. "That includes traffic flow, parking, aesthetics and shop locations."

The proposed shopping center, located just east of Interstate 40, is listed on the commercial real estate company's website under its "properties" tab. City officials said the property is owned by the Lewis Family and Rush-Hal Properties.

In an online property listing on its website, Collett included a promotional flyer, dated Aug. 27, which included pictures of Sam's Club and Bed Bath & Beyond. The flyer, which was removed from the site Thursday morning, also showed a preliminary site plan with various major anchor stores and outparcels.

Craiglow said no businesses are confirmed for the site, and added that the site plan being worked on is different than the preliminary plan included in the Collett advertorial. But Craiglow said it was "safe to say" some businesses that might have been mentioned are "interested in securing contracts."

The still-to-be-finished site plan includes about 350,000 to 400,000 SF of primary shopping, but the overall property could encompass closer to 450,000 SF when outparcels for other shops, banks and restaurants are factored in, Craiglow said.

No rezoning ordinances have been filed as of yet, but Craiglow said city officials anticipate the developer to apply for C-3 and planned unit development (PUD) zoning for the property. 

While the specifics on which stores might make their way to the shopping center are unknown, there is a "clear understanding" on what the traffic demands in the area will be, Craiglow said. With the completion of a traffic study in the area, proposed improvements include the widening of Dave Ward Drive to four lanes between Amity Road and Thomas G. Wilson Drive. 

Craiglow said a section of Amity Road is also planned to be widened to four lanes along the western side of the property. Talks have also included re-dedicating Amity Road, currently overseen by the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department as part of the I-40 right-of-way, to the city.

Craiglow said a redesign of the I-40 off-ramp onto East Dave Ward Drive has also been proposed, and could include a large roundabout.

More Shopping

The proposed shopping center is the latest in a line of redevelopment projects popping up across Conway.

In October, city officials announced plans to redevelop the Conway Municipal Airport into more than 150 acres of commercial real estate. Site plans showed the shopping center, called Central Landing, to include large retail stores mixed with specialty stores, restaurants, offices and multi-family properties.

The Conway City Council approved up to $18 million for street improvements for the project in October, according to the Log Cabin Democrat.

More: Conway, Developer to Rework Airport Site As Shopping Hub by 2017

The project comes as the city finishes construction of a $30 million airport, which features a 6,000-foot runway, on 180 acres in the Lollie Bottoms.  

The city has also begun mixed-use development projects for Donaghey Avenue near the University of Central Arkansas campus, and Markham Street between downtown Conway and Hendrix College.

TJ Johnston, executive vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corporation, recently accepted a position at UCA to oversee all phases of the Donaghey Corridor project.

More: UCA Names Leader to Oversee Donaghey Corridor

The project is expected to include ground-level retail and commercial property with "innovative" student-housing on upper floors, in addition to aesthetic improvements and traffic flow enhancements between South Boulevard and Bruce Street.

Preliminary steps include a groundbreaking this fall.

More: Download UCA's "Framework to the Future" here (PDF).

A public meeting for the Markham Street redevelopment project is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Conway Police Department at 1105 Prairie St.

The project, which was selected by MetroPlan’s Jump Start program in 2013 and received a $180,000 grant, aims at turning more than two dozen blocks on Markham Street into walkable, mixed-use development. 

Scott Grummer, program manager for Community Development, said Gateway Planning will proved preliminary conceptual ideas at Tuesday’s meeting based on public input over the past several months.

Grummer said those who are not able to attend the meeting will be able to log onto, view presentations from the meeting and provide feedback.



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