Tech Park Shows Off Phase II; Budget Expected in February


WER Architects/Planners of Little Rock has unveiled architectural renderings for the not-yet-financed second phase of the $100 million, six-phase Little Rock Technology Park, which is designed to attract and retain startups and established technology companies.

David Sargent, the firm's CEO, presented the renderings Wednesday at the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board's monthly meeting. He told the board that it could have a preliminary budget for the 85,100-SF, five-story building by February.

WER plans to deliver a "schematic package" with floor plans, elevations and sections next week to CDI Contractors LLC of Little Rock, the construction manager for the project, Sargent said. Once CDI has that package, it will estimate the project's costs.

With a preliminary budget in hand, the firms, Board Director Dickson Flake and Tech Park Executive Director Brent Birch will tweak the design to come up with a budget that makes the project financially feasible. It could take a couple of years for construction to begin, depending on the Tech Park board obtaining funding for Phase II, Sargent said.

The Tech Park is funded in part by a half-cent city sales tax expected to generate $22 million, and through rent paid by tenants. Phase I, which is 100 percent occupied, cost about $22 million, including all property acquisitions.

Phase II will be built on the empty lot between the park's current home at 417 Main St. and the KATV building at the corner of Main and Fourth streets.

Architects referred to the building as a "shell" because it will open with unfinished spaces that will be built to suit the tenants who lease them.

Phase II plans include wet/dry laboratories on the third, fourth and fifth floors; offices in the front of the building; meeting spaces; locker rooms; indoor bicycle storage; and a small catering space. The building would be LEED-certified as energy efficient.

The main entrance to the tech park would move from its current facility to the new building. The Phase II lobby would serve as a pre-function space with nooks for people to sit and use their laptops.

Phase II would also feature a restaurant-type space with an outdoor patio on the first floor and a meeting/conference room that could seat about 180 people. That space would be about four times the size of the park's 600-SF Mary Good Conference Center at 417 Main St., Sargent said.

The goal for WER is to design a modern building that looks like it belongs with the turn-of-the-century structures that define Main Street, Sargent said. WER's Phase II designs include brick, glass and reclaimed wood elements.