Tech Park Talks Timeline with KATV; Mary Good to Step Down

Tech Park Talks Timeline with KATV; Mary Good to Step Down
The KATV Building. (Sierra Wheeler)

Sinclair Broadcasting Group will need at least three years to move its Little Rock ABC affiliate, KATV-TV, Channel 7, from its building at Main and Fourth, Little Rock Technology Park Director Brent Birch told board members Wednesday.

The Sinclair property has been identified as part of the tech park's preferred footprint along Main in downtown Little Rock, and officials from both sides have negotiated a potential sale. Birch told the board that KATV officials said the station would need three years to determine if it wants to build a new building or convert an existing one for its needs, and then to make the move. 

KATV has been in its current building since the 1960s. Birch said both sides agreed that he and board member Dickson Flake will work up a timeline for Sinclair's move.

In other board business, board chair Mary Good announced her resignation effective March 15. Good, who represents the University of Arkansas at Little Rock on the board, told members that she had seen the project through its first phase, and she believed it was time for a new UALR representative as plans get underway for phase two.

The city of Little Rock is partnering with UALR and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the planned $100 million project. 

"Since the planning will begin shortly for the second phase of the park, I believe it is appropriate to get a new UALR representative on the board to be available for the full development of this next phase and to develop the optimum collaboration between UALR and the park," Good wrote in her written resignation.

Good, 84, serves UALR as special advisor to the chancellor for economic development. She is a nationally renowned chemist and was the founding dean of the UALR George W. Donaghey College of Engineering and Information Technology. 

Good has held government positions in the administrations of presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, the latter for which she served as Under Secretary for Technology for the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce. Last year, she was inducted into the Arkansas Women's Hall of Fame.

Good noted the process that led the board to select a downtown site for the park — the board had considered midtown locations — and told board members that "now the move across the country is to put these downtown."

"The end result is going to work out to be quite significant for the city," she said.

Good said she would stay on as chair past March 15 for a "bridge period" if the new UALR appointee couldn't start by that date.

In other board business:

  • City of Little Rock appointee C.J. Duvall was reappointed by Mayor Mark Stodola to a four-year term.
  • Birch said the property acquisitions for phase one of the project are final — all the paperwork is in. The board is officially a downtown property owner, he said. Renovation of the property at 417 Main is expected to begin in April after general contractor East Harding sends out bid packages. 
  • The consortium of local banks that provided the board a $17.1 million loan for property acquisition wants to begin marketing the fact that the tech park is beginning to take shape and place signs branding the park around the renovation work set to begin in April. In addition, the board will to take out an ad in the upcoming Feb. 22 technology-focused issue of Arkansas Business to tout the park's progress. The cost of the ad, as yet undetermined, will be split among tech park partners.
  • Birch has been asked to serve on the board of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership.