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Tech Park Votes on Metrocentre Plan, Promotional Video

2 min read

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board voted Wednesday to approve a proposal to make dormant, rather than dissolve, the Metrocentre Improvement District, which has one outstanding bond attached to it.

The board also voted to pay Cranford Co. of Little Rock $7,500 to produce a three- to four-minute video documenting the $7 million renovation of 415 and 417 Main St. and 114 E. Capitol Ave., where the park plans to open in February. It has been temporarily operating out of space at 107 Main St.

The money could come from sponsorship funds provided by the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and Arkansas Children’s Hospital, Executive Director Brent Birch said.

On the improvement district, board member Dickson Flake explained, “The large owners were planning to dissolve the Metrocentre Improvement District because when it was permitted probably 15, 20 years ago, the districts were allowed to be vehicles for tax-exempt financing for private development within the district.”

As Arkansas Business reported in October, one bond issue tied to the district is still outstanding. The property owner is paying for all the debt service but, as long as bond issue is in effect, the district can’t be dissolved.

In the dormant status, which could be proposed in the next three days according to Flake, the district would legally exist but assessments and expenditures related to it would not go on through expiration of the bond issue.

The district’s south parking deck and sculpture will revert to the city and the debt it owes to Little Rock from not paying rent on land will be “a wash,” Flake said, because it’s equal to the value of the improvements to the parking deck and sculpture.

RFPs and Tenants

In other business, Birch said Wednesday was the deadline for requests for proposals from companies wishing to provide janitorial, network equipment, office equipment, vending and coffee/water service to the park. He told the board he would present those at its meeting next month.

Board members also discussed the process by which the park could get leases signed expeditiously and in a way that gives the park a marketing advantage but still fulfills its obligation as a public entity.

Birch told members he had tentative plans to announce the first tenants of the park before next month’s meeting. He requested that he and Board Chairman Kevin Zaffaroni have authority to approve leases as long as the rates the board has already approved are charged.

Under the plan, “… all leases that are within standard lease terms are presented as a group for blanket approval [by board],” Birch told Arkansas Business in an email Thursday. “Any leases with special terms would be presented to the board for more in-depth discussion and research.” 

Birch said that would speed up the process for tenants but also allow the park to announce leases right away, rather than waiting for the board’s monthly meetings.

The board agreed but asked Birch to discuss the process with its legal counsel.

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