Conway Voters to Consider Bonds for Central Landing Street Improvements

Conway voters will decide in a special election Sept. 9 whether a 1/8 cent sales tax will be rededicated to be used for special bonds to finish various road projects, including street improvements tied to the proposed Central Landing, a mixed-use redevelopment of the 151-acre municipal airport.

Voters will cast ballots on two issues, one for the issuance of refunding bonds, not to exceed $7.5 million, and one for the issuance of capital improvement bonds, not to exceed $21 million, for financing street improvement projects.

If approved by voters, the estimated bond payoff date is 2044.

Included in the street projects is the Elsinger Overpass, which would connect the Conway Commons with the proposed Central Landing with a bridge over Interstate 40, and two other improvements from the Elsinger Overpass to Harkrider Street and Oak Street to Sixth Street. All three projects are tied to Central Landing, a $100 million venture by the Conway Development Corp. and Jim Wilson & Associates LLC of Montgomery, Alabama.

The Log Cabin Democrat reported Feb. 11 that the city providing four-lane access from the airport to both Oak and Harkrider streets, by 2017, is part of its contractual obligations with Wilson & Associates.

In addition to street improvements for the proposed Central Landing, funding for Conway's western loop, which would provide a bypass to the west of the city that connected to I-40 on each end, is included in the bond proposal.

If funding is approved by Conway voters, Jack Bell, city chief of staff, said the street improvements tied to the Central Landing development are hoped to be finished by late fall 2016. Brad Lacy, president of CDC, previously told Arkansas Business some retailers hope to be open by Christmas of the same year.

The project is linked with the opening of a new $30 million Conway airport, which is set for August. Funding for the new airport is coming from various avenues, including $20 million from the Federal Aviation Administration. In addition to money from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics and the city, itself, the sale of the old airport to be redeveloped as Central Landing is to be the source of another $6.1 million.

U.S. Sens. Mark Pryor and John Boozman, and U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin announced last month the airport was awarded a $2.3 million grant to help complete the construction of the airport in time to open this summer.