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From Retail to Renewal: State Agencies Thrive in Main Street MallLock Icon

2 min read

Three years ago, state officials considered selling the Main Street Mall and constructing two new buildings in Little Rock. But none of those things happened.

A new variable arose that prompted a change in direction for the 192,475-SF mall at 501 Main St. Instead of emptying the building of state agencies and marketing the property, the tenant roster was replenished.

“The Division of Higher Education decided they wanted to move into the Main Street Mall,” said Anne Laidlaw, director of the Arkansas Building Authority.

Last year, Higher Ed and the Education Department’s Research & Technology team relocated from leased quarters at 423 Main St.

That 48,000-SF building was acquired by the Little Rock Technology Park in February 2016 as part of a $10.8 million transaction with Five Main LLC, led by Warren Stephens.

The state offices went from 44,571 SF in the Five Main Building to 33,396 SF in the Main Street Mall. Only four office suites totaling about 7,000 SF remain vacant in the mall.

“It was a win for us, so we kept it in our portfolio,” Laidlaw said of the decision not to sell the former retail property.

In 2020, the potential sale of the Main Street Mall was linked with building new office space on the Arkansas Department of Health campus at 4815 W. Markham St.

At the time, Health Department officials wanted to expand their campus so various health-related boards scattered around Little Rock could consolidate there. The department is still exploring options along those lines.

Three years ago, state officials also had plans to develop a new building on its Natural Resources Drive campus in west Little Rock.

“It’s on hold,” Laidlaw said.

The project was expected to house the Agriculture Department’s plant and livestock labs. That would’ve freed up existing lab space for redevelopment for the Natural Resources Commission.

After its 2020 move from 28,354 SF in the Main Street Mall, the commission remains in 16,604 SF of leased space in the Cone Building at 10421 W. Markham St.

Over at the state’s Commerce Building, occupancy of net rentable space now stands at 88%. About 28,000 SF remains vacant in the six-story building at 1 Commerce Way in the Riverdale area of Little Rock.

The state bought the former Building 4 on the Verizon/Alltel campus for $26 million in February 2019. It spent an additional $480,000 to finish out office space to suit the needs of the eight state agencies that initially moved to the 303,355-SF building.

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