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3 Downtown Little Rock Projects on Track for Completion This Year

5 min read

Some of the multimillion-dollar construction projects in downtown Little Rock will be wrapping up throughout this year.

Three of the most imminent projects are the new Residence Inn by Marriott next to the Interstate 30 ramp at 219 River Market Ave., the Mann on Main Redevelopment at Fourth and Main streets and the Arcade Building, a new multi-use office and retail space at 100 River Market Ave.

Sharon Priest, executive director of the Downtown Little Rock Partnership, said these projects were good signs for downtown development.

“I think we’re seeing now that the interest in downtown has really resumed,” she said. “People are looking to downtown as the place to be. We’ve been working on that for years now, and it’s really starting to happen.”

Main Street, she said, is in need of more retail and creative facilities. “I think all over downtown what we need to do is start upgrading some of the buildings that have been occupied but maybe not taken care of,” she added. “I’d like to see that happen.”

Residence Inn

The six-story, 80,584-SF Residence Inn is scheduled for completion in late spring, said a spokeswoman for owner McKibbon Hotel Group Inc. of Gainesville, Ga. Shannon Earls, president of Clark Contractors of Little Rock, said his company had a late April completion time frame for the project. It broke ground about one year ago.

The extended-stay hotel was designed by Lindsay Pope Brayfield Clifford & Associates of Lawrenceville, Ga.

McKibbon’s spokeswoman said the hotel would have 107 rooms and a total of 1,051 SF of retail space between two bays; tenants for the retail bays haven’t been announced. The Residence will also have 702 SF of meeting space.

Both Clark and McKibbon declined to comment on the cost of the project.

The building permit reflects a construction project of nearly $9.7 million.

The site was bought by a McKibbon affiliate in 2009 for $1.3 million.

Mann Project

Redevelopment and restoration work on the $22 million Mann on Main project at the northeast corner of Fourth and Main began about six months ago.

The Mann is a joint project between two Little Rock firms: Moses Tucker Real Estate and the Doyle Rogers Co.

Moses Tucker is leasing out the building’s space. Principal Jimmy Moses said office tenants would start moving into the seven-story, 140,000-SF Mann Building in mid-June.

He said the project had 90,000 SF of office space with 83,000 SF of that leased, mostly to state agencies.

About 3,000 SF of the 8,000 SF of retail space on Main Street is committed, Moses said, adding that the company would announce the tenants “soon.”

The 30,000-SF annex, which will be referred to as the Mann Lofts, will have 19 apartments, of which 11 are pre-leased, Moses said.

A 415-car parking deck at the northeast corner of Fourth and Louisiana streets is nearing completion, and Moses said it should be open for vehicles in April.

AMR Architects of Little Rock is in charge of restoring the Mann. The company previously restored several of the historic buildings in the River Market District.

“We’ve had to work on the structural integrity of the annex,” said architect Frank Barksdale.

When the buildings were used by the Blass family as a department store, an escalator was installed between the main building and the annex, and the floors were changed to serve the escalator.

“So the floors of the two buildings don’t line up,” Barksdale said. “We had some structural fun, you might say, when we took that escalator out. We had to go back and fill in those holes left by the escalator.”

The building’s windows have been removed and replaced with energy-efficient versions that Barksdale said were designed to mimic the original double-hung windows.

“These won’t operate,” he said. “They look like the old-style wood windows, and we’ve restored them back to white in color. Some of the photographs we had showed the original white were replaced with bronze in the late ’60s or early ’70s.”

Historic photos also showed a copper awning at the main entrance, which Barksdale said the company has considered replacing.

“I think getting this many people working on Main Street is adding life to the street,” Barksdale said.

“Getting residents down here is a big deal. As Main Street tries to come back, I think it’s an important step to have several hundred people working in this building. They will go out at lunch, look for places to eat. The people that live there will obviously inhabit the neighborhood; they will, hopefully, walk to work. A lot of them will be out looking for things to eat, places to shop, so it will hopefully help downtown shopping.”

Arcade Building

The $17 million, 60,000-SF Arcade Building in the River Market District is on track to be completed by the end of November, Moses said. A half-decade ago, another hotel was scheduled to be constructed on the spot, but when that didn’t work out, the Arcade was planned instead. The project finally broke ground in October.

It will feature retail, dining and office space, as well as a 350-seat theater.

The tenants that will occupy the building haven’t changed since they were announced last year. The Central Arkansas Library System will own some of the building — including the theater — and the Clinton School for Public Service will also have classroom space. In addition to Cache Restaurant, the building has five retail bays ranging from 700 SF to 1,200 SF.

AMR also designed the building and plans to move into it upon completion.

Barksdale said the design of the building was intended to mesh with the surrounding neighborhood while presenting a distinctly modern facade.

“The corners of the building are brick,” he said. “They relate more to the historic buildings that are adjacent to them, and the farther away you get from the corner, the building gets more contemporary in feel.”

Barksdale said the second floor would have balconies, evoking two-story buildings in older Southern cities like New Orleans.

The theater will be home to the Little Rock Film Festival. AMR’s renderings of the alley leading to the theater show it lined with classic film posters. A sky bridge will cross the alley between the Arkansas Studies Institute and CALS’ new archives inside the Arcade.

Moses said the Arcade was helping the neighborhood develop in a positive way.

“Probably, in my opinion, it became too much of a bar/late-night/club environment,” he said. “Bars and restaurants are something we want to have downtown and in the River Market, but I think more emphasis in the neighborhood on retail and residential is the right direction to head in the years to come.”

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