The owners of three major west Little Rock retail centers waylaid by an EF3 tornado on March 31 continue to clean up and make plans for repair.
The tornado, which cut a 34-mile path of destruction through Pulaski County and into rural Lonoke County, and its swirling debris cloud hit Colony West Shopping Center and Pavilion in the Park especially hard. Both properties will remain closed for weeks more until repair work can set things right.
“We hope to get a construction timeline soon,” said Jessica Flake Dearnley, a member of the management and ownership group for Pavilion in the Park.
Significant roof damage forced its owners to temporarily shutter the three-story, 82,000-SF mixed-use project. With so much work in progress overhead, the owners have suspended public use and tenant occupancy.
“Our biggest issue is safety,” said Jon Isham, superintendent with Metro Disaster Specialists in North Little Rock.
The tornado transformed the 8201 Cantrell Road property from a commercial venue into a 4.3-acre construction site as workers start rebuilding a complex roofing system that includes concrete tiles and a glass atrium.
Metro Disaster Specialists scrambled to get the building in the dry to prevent more water damage from wet weather.
“We were able to get the tarps on quick enough to prevent secondary damage from the rain that came later,” Isham said.
A couple of minutes before pummeling Pavilion in the Park, the supercell blasted through Colony West, ripping most of the roof from its row of small businesses and exposing offices and shops to wind-driven rain.
The storm also peeled off a big chunk of the center’s Kroger grocery store next door, opening the interior to wind-blown water. Sheets of plywood cover shattered windows and doors as Colony West awaits renovation.
Across Rodney Parham Road from Colony West, Breckenridge Village Shopping Center was battered but sustained far less commercially debilitating damage.
“We’re in a lot better situation, but we have a few less trees than we used to have,” said Hank Kelley, a partner in the Breckenridge Village ownership group. “The biggest challenge we faced was getting debris out of the property: Trees, glass and parts of roof.
“We’ve walked the property with restoration people, who’ve been working since the day of the event to board up windows and extract water. Now we’re moving into the next phase, which is pricing on the nonstructural walls that were damaged and will be reinstalled.”
Utilities are restored to all the buildings, and a sunny break in the weather is helping speed the recovery.
“This week (April 9-15), we should have all of the businesses back up and running, and the following week have new construction going on,” Kelley said.
He estimated that three to four more weeks of mostly exterior repair work should square away the most important items on the to-do list.
“We have no evidence of load-bearing wall damage at all,” Kelley said.