More Front Porches Coming to Rockwater Village

The near build-out of The Residences at Rockwater is putting new development activity in play for North Little Rock’s Lower Baring Cross neighborhood.

More residential lots and new home construction in Rockwater Village are in the 2018 pipeline as well as development of apartments and commercial space.

Plans for a three-story building at the southwest corner of Rockwater Boulevard and Pike Avenue are taking shape.

The half-acre development, which will have a small amount of commercial space on the ground floor, is envisioned to house a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments, about 50 units in all.

“We’re working with the architects now to do design,” said Lisa Ferrell, CEO and president of North Bluffs Development Corp. “We expect construction to start during the next nine months.”

The site is part of 2 undeveloped acres North Bluffs purchased in March from the city of North Little Rock in a $379,805 transaction.

The commercially zoned land is along the west side of Pike Avenue between Rockwater Boulevard and the Arkansas River Trail. “The goal is to have a signature entryway,” Ferrell said. “Maybe we’ll call it The Gateway at Rockwater.”

Less than a block to the west, seven new homes will begin springing up at the northwest corner of Parker Street and Rockwater Boulevard in a 15-lot residential project called The Porches at Rockwater.

Six lots are sold to future homeowners, and North Little Rock’s Jon Callahan Construction Inc. is building two spec homes.

Underground utilities and the street work are completed, and only the alleyway remains on the infrastructure checklist.

“In about two to three weeks, we will be digging footings on our first seven houses, five of which are presold,” said Jon Callahan. “Within six months, we should have the first homeowners moving in.”

After the flurry of early sales, Callahan anticipates another spike in activity once the first round of new homes begins taking shape.

He pegged the average price of the two-story, 1,700- to 1,800-SF houses at $275,000.

The price point in Rockwater’s new neighborhood drew interest from buyers who balked at the $450,000-plus, 2,500-SF-plus homes in The Residences at Rockwater.

The first building contract for The Porches was signed in May 2017.

“I was surprised it was as popular as it was as early as it was,” Callahan said. “I was thinking I was going to build all specs to start out.”

Less than a block west of The Porches at Rockwater, plans are in motion for a new phase rollout of 30 residential lots.

“We hope to begin construction on infrastructure by midsummer,” Ferrell said. “We’re going to have a tremendous amount of green space.”

As it stands now, the 16-acre development will eventually be home to 80 residential lots. A naming contest for the project via Facebook is in the works.

Six more lots in The Residences at Rockwater Village are planned to extend the project east on a 1.46-acre parcel acquired for $363,000 in 2016. The future home sites will be divided between three riverfront lots and three boulevard lots.

Summerwood Inc. of North Little Rock has built two houses in The Residences with two more under construction.

“We’re very pleased with the development that happened in there,” said Ron Harris, vice president of Summerwood and a North Little Rock councilman.

“It’s just very, very nice. The standard of construction there is above normal, and we hope to continue that into the next phases.”

Southern Living Nod
The 2016 inclusion of Rockwater Village in Southern Living magazine’s “Southern Living Inspired Communities” gave the project national exposure. Rockwater’s front-porch aesthetics combined with its LEED building guidelines drew raves along with its neighboring amenities for boating, biking and walking: a 64-slip marina and the Arkansas River Trail.

“If there ever was an example of a public-private partnership, Rockwater would be one,” said North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith.

Reconfiguring and upgrading the road network and ap-proving the establishment of a Tax Increment Finance District helped Rockwater along the way.

Smith believes the Rockwater momentum will translate into good things pushing farther into the Baring Cross neighborhood.

“I’m hoping it will continue north at the pace that we’ve been on,” he said. “I’d love to see it get to 13th Street in the next four years.

“I see Baring Cross looking more like Argenta, blend in the new with the old. Save what can be saved, and tear down what can’t.”

North Little Rock’s latest contribution to helping transform the area is remaking Pike Avenue into a tree-lined thoroughfare from Rockwater Boulevard to Pershing Boulevard.

Engineering work to beautify the corridor and make it more pedestrian friendly is about to begin. Smith expects the project will be accomplished in phases through a mix of grants and city funds.

“It’s a 2019 construction project at best,” Smith said of the start for planned Pike Avenue improvements.

Adding to the area activity buzz is the future redevelopment of the vacant 242,923-SF Timex warehouse complex at 1302 Pike Ave.

The Arkansas Department of Community Correction intends to consolidate more than 200 staffers in Little Rock, North Little Rock and Pine Bluff at the property.

The renovation project is estimated to cost $12 million and perhaps open in 2019