Kevin Huchingson of Colliers on What Makes Commercial Real Estate in Arkansas Attractive

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Jun. 23, 2014 12:00 am  

Kevin Huchingson

Kevin Huchingson is president and CEO of Colliers International Arkansas, a commercial and residential real estate services firm. He’s been a principal there since 1997 and has led Arkansas’ Colliers offices since 2002. In that time, he has led the firm through two mergers with other in-state commercial real estate firms. He specializes in investment brokerage and consulting for corporate and individual clients. He’s also a past president of the Arkansas Realtors Association, and he’s been a member of the CARTI Foundation Board of Directors and the real estate council of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

Huchingson was named to Arkansas Business’ annual 40 Under 40 class in 2003.

What’s the state of the Arkansas commercial real estate market?

The Arkansas commercial real estate market has continued to improve during the last couple of years. All market sectors are experiencing vacancy rates at or below national levels. Central Arkansas never had the extreme volatility of some of the larger markets around the country, or even northwest Arkansas. The main drivers of our local economy include the high employment base at the state level and our strong medical presence, which provided stability during the downturn. Northwest Arkansas has made a strong comeback and seems to be on its way to leveling out. Northeast Arkansas is becoming a main hub of commercial activity, particularly in the retail sector.

Where in Arkansas do you see the bulk of the commercial growth? What’s driving the activity in those places?

In general, national retailers and other users are finally seeing Arkansas as a priority market in which to locate. The economic development agencies are doing a good job of attracting new companies to our state, and our Arkansas-based companies are experiencing solid growth and adding employees. I believe we will see more growth in both central and northwest Arkansas, but we have other markets that are expanding as well, like Jonesboro, Hot Springs, Texarkana and others. I am particularly excited to see the progress of the Little Rock Technology Park downtown and the opportunities that should come from those start-up companies.

Central Arkansas’ retail market seems to be gaining momentum. How would you characterize the growth?

The retail market does have significant momentum, and we are seeing new stores that are entering the state for the first time. With a 5 percent retail vacancy in central Arkansas, there are very few options for retailers looking for space other than new construction.

As retailers like Wal-Mart focus on smaller stores and the Internet, how does that affect demand for the retail space that often springs up around them?

In my opinion, our market is relatively insulated in the near term. Arkansas companies are healthy, and we are fortunate to see many of our companies continue to expand and absorb space. In addition, we have many retailers and other employers that have no presence in our state, so there is room for more growth.

December will mark 10 years since Dickson Flake Partners took a stake in Colliers International. What has that affiliation meant to your company?

The addition of Arkansas to Colliers’ global platform was a significant step forward for us. The Colliers banner is international and makes our brand immediately recognizable to our prospective clients. And the networking and collaborative opportunities within our own organization are invaluable. For example, if we have a client here in Little Rock who is looking for property in Dallas or St. Louis, we can immediately consult with our Colliers brokers in that office to find the best fit. It also goes the other way, as other Colliers offices around the country can send their clients to our offices in Arkansas.



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