Little Rock Port Executive Director Bryan Day pitched board members at their monthly meeting Wednesday on buying a building formerly occupied by Delta Dental for use as a multipurpose space at the port.
Day said the two entities have agreed on a $2 million price for the two-story office building at 7773 Sloane Drive, lower than the appraised value of $2.48 million listed on the Pulaski County assessor's website.
A feasibility study in 2020 found that the 40,438-SF building on just under 5 acres could be used for workforce training, community events, job fairs and more. Day said it could be marketed and leased to businesses as overflow office space. He said that when Amazon selected the port for a 825,000-SF fulfillment center, the online retailer needed space for interviews and the former Delta Dental site could've provided it.
A Little Rock police substation and office for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration were mentioned as possible long-term tenants for the building.
"I believe it's a good investment for the port," Day said.
Day did not ask board members Wednesday to vote on a resolution authorizing the purchase. He asked them to think about it and tour the building, if they wanted to, before making a decision.
Board member Tamika Edwards said she would abstain from the process to avoid a conflict of interest, as she's a member of the Delta Dental of Arkansas board of directors.
If the board signs off, the acquisition would be presented to the Little Rock Board of Directors for final approval.
Day said it would cost about $100,000 annually to operate the building, but the port would aim to offset expenses through leases, grants and new rail users.
The building was constructed in 1994 and purchased by the Illinois-based dental insurance company in 2008 for $1.8 million. Delta Dental used it as a call center.
According to Day, the company relocated the call center to Sherwood. Property records show Delta Dental bought a building of almost identical size at 1513 Country Club Road from Baptist Health for $2.15 million.