Central Arkansas Retail Space Vacancy Rate Rises Slightly

Central Arkansas Retail Space Vacancy Rate Rises Slightly

The vacancy rate for retail space in central Arkansas rose slightly in the second quarter, inching up to 4.9 percent compared with 4.7 percent in the first quarter.

“Don’t look for new retail development to ramp up anytime soon,” said Mark Bingman of Little Rock’s Rector Phillips Morse Inc. “With average rental rates remaining steady from the previous quarter — down by only 8 cents per square foot — it is hard to justify the relatively high construction costs. Another possible factor is the impact of new government regulations affecting the lending industry, including the Dodd-Frank Act and Basel III requirements.

“Property owners will likely continue to focus on redevelopment and additions to existing centers, such as McCain Plaza. The new ownership has announced remodeling plans," said Bingman.

"With the total vacancy rate continuing below 5 percent for the fourth consecutive quarter, merchants and restaurants still struggle with finding acceptable locations. Conway, Benton and Bryant continue to see the majority of any new construction. However, opportunities arise for midtown in the coming quarters.

"With the closing of the midtown Sears (160,000 SF) and the closed Staples, the overall vacancy rate will soon be greatly affected in this market. Also, with the Walmart Neighborhood Market in Maumelle (35,000 SF) available, future development is certainly a possibility.”