Higher Ed Construction Dots the State


The Civil Engineering Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is taking shape.
The Civil Engineering Center at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville is taking shape.
Ground was broken in Little Rock on April 12 for the Surgical Annex for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Ground was broken in Little Rock on April 12 for the Surgical Annex for the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.

A dozen of the biggest higher education construction projects now active in Arkansas total more than $381 million. Helping escalate that tally is the newest entry, the $85 million surgical annex on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campus in Little Rock.

The 156,000-SF, five-story project will be devoted to orthopedic services, with a dozen operating rooms and exam rooms, 24 short-stay inpatient beds, rehab space, pain management clinic, imaging suite and more.

The job represents a record-setter of sorts for the Conway contractor.

“It will be the biggest project we’ve ever done for UAMS,” said Greg Williams, CEO of Nabholz Construction.

Three arts-oriented projects backed by generous financial gifts from the Windgate Foundation of Little Rock are in motion on college campuses in Jonesboro, Fayetteville and Conway.

Clark Contractors LLC of Little Rock is overseeing construction of two of the Windgate projects now under construction.

“We’re excited to be a part of what the Windgate Foundation is doing across the state and look forward to it taking art to the next level for the next generation of creative people,” said William Clark, CEO of Clark Contractors.

Work on the $6.5 million, 17,500-SF Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts on the Jonesboro campus of Arkansas State University should be completed in May. The $42 million 154,600-SF Windgate Studio & Design Center for the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is rolling toward an expected finish in June 2022.

Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock is managing construction of the $35 million, 104,000-SF Windgate Center for Fine & Performing Arts at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. It is slated to open in August 2022.


Big Higher Ed Construction

PROJECT

COST

CONTRACTOR

Surgical Annex

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock

$85 million

Nabholz Construction Corp., Conway

Energy Performance Contract

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock

$72.36 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Energy Performance Contract

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock

$45.2 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Windgate Studio & Design Center

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

$42 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Windgate Center for Fine & Performing Arts

University of Central Arkansas, Conway

$35.42 million

Baldwin & Shell Construction Co., Little Rock

Saline County Career Technical Education Campus, Benton

$27.9 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

J.B. & Johnelle Hunt Family Baseball Development Center

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

$20.28 million

Kinco Constructors LLC, Little Rock

Science Center Addition & Renovation

University of the Ozarks, Clarksville

$18.6 million

Kinco Constructors LLC, Little Rock

Civil Engineering Research & Education Center

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

$11.56 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Arkansas Fire Training Academy Housing

South Arkansas University Tech, Camden

$10 million

Kinco Constructors LLC, Little Rock

Altheimer Agricultural Laboratory & Research Center

University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

$7.45 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Windgate Center For Three-Dimensional Arts

Arkansas State University, Jonesboro

$6.5 million

CDI Contractors LLC, Little Rock

Source: The companies

Heads Up, Hard Hats

The 45,000-SF player development center for the top-ranked Arkansas Razorback baseball program has attracted a lot of attention. As work has progressed, the $20 million construction project at Baum-Walker Stadium has served as a backdrop to fly balls and homers during game broadcasts.

“We’re certainly very, very proud to have such a prestigious job and be a part of that,” said Doug Wasson, CEO of Kinco Constructors LLC. “Everybody that you run into that is a Razorback baseball fan, they are all excited about it and ask a lot of questions about it.”

The Little Rock contractor and the baseball venue have a shared history that dates back to the start of its construction in 1994. Kinco has overseen all the expansion and upgrades since the stadium opened in 1996.

The performance center behind the visitors bullpen has become a popular target for players to swat balls over the right field fence.

“During batting practice, they hit the top of the building all the time,” said Marc Dillard, vice president of Kinco’s northwest Arkansas operations. “We’ve collected a lot of baseballs.”

The construction site remains a hard hat area during ball games, too.

In the sixth inning against the University of Memphis on March 24, Matt Goodheart of Magnolia blasted a two-run homer out of the park.

The exit velocity of the bat-launched projectile was clocked at more than 100 miles per hour.

The baseball sailed over the player development center, nearly hit Cody Lough, a project coordinator for Kinco, and ricocheted off a boom lift.

“From where they told me the ball landed, it’s like 450 feet” from home plate, said Richard Stewart, superintendent for Kinco Constructors.

Lough recovered the ball and tossed it to some kids clamoring for a souvenir outside the perimeter fence along 15th Street.

Science Center

About 62 miles to the southeast as the baseball flies from Baum-Walker Stadium, the University of the Ozarks at Clarksville recently completed its Climb Higher Campaign that soared well past its initial $55 million fundraising goal.

“The final number was $73.1 million total,” said Larry Isch, director of media and public relations for the private liberal arts school. “About half of that was student support, scholarship endowments. It was a pretty impressive number.”

A portion of that capital campaign is devoted to making the Thomas & Frances Wilson Science Center happen.

The project entails 18,000 SF of new construction to expand the science center and renovation of the existing 30,000-SF facility.

Kinco Constructors is overseeing the $18.6 million project, described as the single largest capital construction project in the university’s 186-year history.

“The impressive thing is when they are going to have this completed,” Isch said. “We’re going to hold classes in there in January 2022.”

The updated and expanded center will house classrooms, laboratories, research space, greenhouses and more for the natural and health science programs, including biology, environmental sciences, chemistry, health sciences, physics and psychology.


Financial Condition of Select Arkansas Universities & Systems
Fiscal year ended June 30

Arkansas State University System

2019

2020

Operating revenue

$141,127,101

$139,716,341

Operating expenses

$299,428,708

$303,061,524

Nonoperating revenues less expenses

$170,127,616

$185,256,880

Other revenue less expenses

$729,597

$236,094

Change in net position*

$12,555,606

$22,147,791

Arkansas Tech University, Russellville

2019

2020

Operating revenue

$79,978,926

$80,035,237

Operating expenses

$139,439,720

$135,683,024

Nonoperating revenues less expenses

$55,169,223

$57,479,148

Other revenue less expenses, gains or losses

$1,205,936

$19,229,896

Change in net position*

-$3,085,635

$21,331,257

Harding University, Searcy

2019

2020

Total revenue

$136,080,577

$123,841,562

Operating expenses

$126,337,536

$120,321,493

Other revenue less expenses

$2,321,788

$8,771,709

Change in net assets

$12,064,829

$12,291,778

University of Arkansas System

2019

2020

Operating revenue

$2,515,551,666

$2,449,019,480

Operating expenses

$3,110,751,025

$3,203,348,930

Nonoperating revenues less expenses

$685,718,222

$787,785,697

Other revenue less expenses

$63,400,841

$51,673,936

Change in net position*

$153,919,704

$85,130,183

University of Central Arkansas, Conway**

 2019

 2020

Operating revenue

$97,530,699

$96,600,321

Operating expenses

$200,698,645

$195,284,090

Nonoperating revenues less expenses

$95,241,173

$95,214,960

Other revenue less expenses, gains or losses

-$1,042,899

$19,510,051

Change in net position*

-$8,969,672

$16,041,242

*Change in net position is also known as the bottom line.
**UCA figures for fiscal 2020 are unaudited
Source: Financial statements on file with EMMA, the website funded and operated by the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board