Tech Park Negotiating with Banks to Finance First Phase

Tech Park Negotiating with Banks to Finance First Phase

The Little Rock Tech Park Authority Board will negotiate with a consortium of local financial institutions on a plan to finance $17.5 million for development of the park's first phase along Main Street in downtown Little Rock.

Centennial Bank is leading the group, which also includes First Security Bank, Arvest Bank, Simmons First National Bank, Bear State Bank and Arkansas Federal Credit Union. Up to two more banks are expected to join the group, according to Tech Park Director Brent Birch.

The board at its Wednesday afternoon meeting authorized board member and local developer Dickson Flake to negotiate with the consortium on its letter of intent (available here), which offered a 4.19 percent fixed rate over six years.

Birch said the banks worked with Crews & Associates to determine how the financing might work and consider taxable interest rates and bank-qualified, tax-exempt rates.

Once finalized, the financing plan would enable the board to close an $11.6 million deal with Stephens Inc. for the purchase of the Exchange Bank building at 421 Main St., its annex at 417 Main St., three parking lots; close on the purchase of the Mays Byrd & Associates law firm at 415 Main St.; and provide money for renovations, demolitions and other professional services of the project.

Once the banks and Flake have agreed on acceptable terms, Flake will submit an agreement to the board "preferably before our September board meeting," Birch said. The Stephens deal carries a September financing deadline.

The Stephens purchase would kickstart the park's first phase, which would include 3.25 acres and renovation of about 39,000-SF of space. Birch told the board that renovation work should begin by January with startup occupation of tech park space possible by next summer. 

The proposed tech park site runs north of Capitol Avenue on both sides of Main Street with an additional parcel on the north side of Fourth Street. On the east side of Main Street, the site is bordered by Scott Street between Capitol Avenue and Fourth Street.

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