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Setting Supersites

4 min read
Setting Supersites 144005
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What makes a supersite super? What makes a megasite mega?

Regardless of what these large plots of ground are called, big-acreage, big-facility ready sites are in demand in Arkansas’ real estate industry. With Arkansas trumpeting its status as a pro-business state, developers are looking for places where industries can plunk down their job-creating factories and distribution centers to keep the local economy humming.

“There is no agreed upon industry standard,” said Danny Games, director of business and economic development at Entergy Arkansas. “There have even been a few white papers written about that very question. What do you call a supersite? What do you call a megasite? What do you call a certified megasite? No objective, independent party has that definition.”

Roughly, Games said, a supersite will have around 1,800 acres, which would satisfy automotive or electric vehicle plant needs, large steel mill requirements and the needs of similar-size facilities. There should be basic utility hookups available, including water and sewer, but not in detail that’s too specific because each company may have different requirements, depending on the operation.

“Once someone shows an interest, then you start thinking about basic needs,” said Bryan Day, Port of Little Rock executive director.

Site preparation may also include Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) to research a property for potential environmental or human health threats. 

“Our philosophy is not build and they will come, but it’s prepare it and it will help them to come,” Games said. “We want to be realistic. There’s no guarantee that a certified site is going to guarantee you a project, but there’s a good guarantee that not having a ready site is not going to bring you any success.”

Some companies may have specific conduit size requirements or electrical load needs, and too much advanced infrastructure preparation could mean having to revamp what’s already there at cost. Some companies, on the other hand, may be able to adapt to what’s already in place.

“The adage that every project is different is completely true,” Games said. “Some companies may come in and may want to take an existing building.”

Michigan-based global housewares maker HMS Manufacturing Co., for example, announced in 2019 it was opening a 550,000-SF injection molding facility at an existing building at the Port of Little Rock. The building did need some electrical improvements, but it was able to take advantage of an Entergy energy efficiency initiative program to get those done. 

“They didn’t need a green field. They were able to go in there and they were able to make the necessary improvements and everyone was happy,” Games said. 

Because of industry competition and other concerns, the process often begins with a company anonymously seeking a place to build or open a facility, meaning a developer must anticipate as much as possible what is needed to make a site attractive. If you don’t have it, a site selector isn’t going to want it, Day said. 

“They’re not looking to pick a site; they’re looking to disqualify a site,” he said.

Games said that over the past 18 to 24 months there has been a lot of traffic surrounding electric vehicle projects, some of which have included manufacturing batteries. Steel and metal manufacturing are also in the market for sites. 

Games said his company has a large site on Interstate 40, in West Memphis, and last July the Port of Little Rock announced groundbreaking on 1 million SF of industrial storage space, the two-building South Port Commerce Center. The Port, Day said benefits from its existing logistical infrastructure that includes railroad, highway and river access.

Setting Supersites 144005
( Shutterstock, ABPG)

SuperSites of the State

1. Helena Harbor Industrial Park
Arkansas Hwy. 20 Spur,
Helena/West Helena,
Phillips County
Available Acreage: 4,000
Property type: Commercial/ Industrial

2. Lawrence County
Mega Site
1159 Lawrence 701
Hoxie, Lawrence County
Available Acreage: 2,426
Property type: Industrial

3. Metro Little Rock
Hensley Mail Route Road
Hensley, Saline County:
Available Acreage: 2,045
Property type: Industrial

4. Craighead
Technology Park
State Hwy. 18
Jonesboro, Craighead County
Available Acreage: 1,816
Property type: Industrial

5. West Memphis
I-40 MegaSite
Hwy. 147
West Memphis, Crittenden County
Available Acreage: 1,800
Property type: Industrial

6. Rail Port Logistics Park
South Airport Road
West Memphis,
Crittenden County
Available Acreage: 1,400
Property type: Industrial

7. REDI Arkansas Manufacturing Center
Interstate 30
Texarkana, Miller County
Available Acreage: 1,350
Property type: Industrial

8. Rieves-Wallace Property
Kuhn Road and Hino Blvd.
Marion, Crittenden County:
Available Acreage: 1,225
Property type: Industrial

9. Clark County SuperSite
3211 Hwy 67 S.
Arkadelphia, Clark County
Available Acreage: 1,084
Property type: Commercial/Industrial

10. Port SuperSite
Frazier Pike Road
Little Rock, Pulaski County
Available Acreage: 1,000
Property type: Industrial

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