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Hays Buys Coca-Cola Plant in Jonesboro, Eyes November Open

3 min read

Empty and on the market since 2008, the Coca-Cola bottling plant at the intersection of South Caraway Road and Highland Drive in Jonesboro is getting new life as a 55,000-SF Hays Clothing store set to open in November.

Haag Brown Commercial of Jonesboro represented THAYS LLC in the $3.6 million purchase of the property from Twin Corners LLC, represented by TJ Lefler of Sage Partners. The new owners plan to put about $2 million into renovations and improvements, according to Josh Brown, a principal at Haag Brown.

“The reason [the plant] was on the market so long was the price was always so high,” Brown told Arkansas Business. “It was always the best corner and the best real estate. The price was still extremely high, but you needed a user that could take that 55,000-SF building and utilize it.”

That user will be Hays Clothing, a privately held, family-owned retailer that sells name-brand clothing, hunting apparel, western wear and furniture. The company operates two other stores, one in Searcy and another in Judsonia. But at 30,000-SF, they’re smaller than what Hays has planned for Jonesboro. 

Monte Hays, who co-owns Hays Clothing with brother Terry, said new store will offer a bigger selection and more inventory, including brands currently unavailable in Jonesboro, including Vineyard Vines and Southern Tide. Hays plans to hire between 100-120 workers.

“We just fell in love with the location and the building itself,” Hays said Wednesday. “It was something we could restore, and it’s an icon of Jonesboro. We have been looking at Jonesboro for a few years and, this location — when we’d seen it, we just knew it was the spot.”

Construction is underway to have the store open in time for Black Friday. Monte Hays said the company had been eyeing Jonesboro for a while, waiting to find the right location. He said company is looking to continue growth with more stores in the future, but he declined to release further details. 

Intersection Aid

The intersection of Caraway and Highland has been a primary center of trade since Sears opened its doors decades ago at the northwest corner, Brown said.

“It is rewarding to take a building sitting dormant for over five years and turn it into something employing over one hundred people and generating millions per year in tax revenue,” Brown said in a news release announcing the sale. “And as an extra blessing, there will be a multi-million dollar construction event taking place in the city with an opportunity for restaurants on the outparcels.”

The Hays property sits at the southwest corner of the Caraway/Highland intersection. The Highland Square shopping center, anchored by K-Mart, sits across Caraway on the southeast corner. The Crossroads shopping center, which includes Pier 1 Imports and OfficeMax, sits on the northeast corner.

New business will likely draw more traffic. According to Fritz Gisler, the director of communications for the city of Jonesboro, there have already been discussions about expanding the intersection’s lane configurations.

“At several intersections in Jonesboro, we have added extended red turn lanes, so as you approach the intersection, a dedicated right turn lane appears,” Gisler said. “That has helped relieve congestion at those busier intersections.”

City officials have identified the Caraway/Highland intersection as one requiring a revamp. The city has included a plan to add left and right turn lanes and upgraded traffic signals to a wish list of highway projects in search of funding.

Meanwhile, developers are satisfied to see the long-dormant bottling plant property back in use.

“Without ever having a sign on the property, we have been asked what is going to happen to the Coke property over a hundred times in the past few years,” principal Greg Haag said in a news release. “Now, we can tell people that it is going to be transformed into a 55,000 square foot retail development.”

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