UCA Gauging Retail Interest in Mixed-Use Development

by Lee Hogan  on Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014 11:04 am  

The University of Central Arkansas is starting to look into the interest level businesses may have in being a part of the first phase of the university's renovation of Donaghey Avenue.

UCA has worked with Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects of Little Rock on the design of a 68,000-SF, four-story mixed-use development at the corner of Donaghey Avenue and Bruce Street. 

The building would feature retail space on the ground floor, approximately 13,500-SF for lease, and student housing for about 165 students on the remaining floors.

As of now, the university has only received permission from its board of trustees to enter initial planning stages with an architectural firm. This next step of gauging interest from possible retail tenants is to give the board an idea of who might want to lease space, according to President Tom Courtway.

"We will continue the analysis and discussions with the Board as we move forward, but we believe it is very important at this time to gauge the level of interest in the commercial/retail part of the proposed development," Courtway said in a news release.

According to a brochure released by the university on the Donaghey Corridor project, it hopes to complete plans for the mixed-use development this summer, and present to the board in the fall. Pending board approval, a groundbreaking would be held in spring 2015 with marketing and leasing completed from fall 2015 to spring 2016, before the building was opened to businesses and students in fall 2016.

More: View the brochure here (PDF)

The brochure shows retail tenants could include a restaurant, specialty boutique, pharmacy or general merchandise, office or banking, and a coffee shop or café. Currently, Papa John's is located at the proposed site of the mixed-use development. 

The Log Cabin Democrat reported in April that UCA was in negotiations to buy the property from Ozark Pizza Company LLC. Jim Brown, the company chairman, told the Log Cabin Democrat he was interested in being a part of the university's redevelopment of Donaghey Avenue.

The restaurant has done $567,057 in sales through April, and did $1.6 million in sales last year.

As reported in March by Arkansas Business, UCA is also working with the city of Conway on a streetscape plan for a one-mile stretch of Donaghey Avenue between Dave Ward Drive and College Avenue. The plans include medians, roundabouts and landscaping. 

T.J. Johnston, who was hired as the university's director of special projects and community affairs in February, told Arkansas Business the plans were still in the early stages.



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