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Value of $1 Million-Plus Deals Jumps 70 Percent

3 min read

The number of $1 million-plus commercial real estate deals in Pulaski County didn’t increase significantly during 2014. But the same can’t be said for the dollar total of the transactions, which ballooned by a whopping 70 percent compared with 2013.

The list of 119 commercial real estate deals from 2014 topped $597 million. The 2013 deal count stood at 101, representing a dollar total of more than $350 million.

The Pulaski County real estate market drew the financial attention of local and other in-state interests along with a very strong showing from real estate investment trusts, investment funds and individual investors outside Arkansas.Indicative of that is the census of the 15 largest commercial deals in 2014. Fourteen of the buyers came from out of state.

Get the List: Click here to purchase the list of the biggest deals in commercial real estate.

Foothills Apartments in North Little Rock topped the list of 2014 deals at $42.6 million. The 540-unit complex was among 14 apartment projects that sold in Pulaski County last year.

“There’s a good reason for that,” said Jerry Webster, president of Little Rock’s Webster Corp., an apartment broker. “If someone wants to invest in commercial real estate, multifamily is the property type of choice for many.

“Everything is working toward multifamily investing: More people want to rent, interest rates are low, and we have a steady market. ’15 is going to be a bigger year for multifamily than in ’14. You can mark that down.”

Land deals generated the greatest concentration of activity on this year’s list. The tally of 18 land sales represented a cross section of developments: retail, industrial, apartment, hotel, bank branch, restaurant and office.

The biggest of the bunch at $5.2 million was the 29.7-acre site for The Outlets at Little Rock, part of the Gateway Town Center development in west Little Rock. The deal, which ranked No. 31, served as a launching pad for construction of the 325,000-SF retail project scheduled to open this summer.

Included in the roster of commercial land deals is a 247-acre tract along the Little Maumelle River in west little Rock. Originally planned for possible apartment, marina and residential development, the property became a pocket of rural woodlands and fields as development flowed west on Highway 10.

“That’s always been a special property,” said Ed Willis, a partner in the Ranch Properties development. “We were in a position to make a significant gift, and we’re delighted that we were able to find the right partner to have the property for the long term.”

The cash portion of the deal with The Nature Conservancy was $1 million. Once part of the Glenn Johnson Ranch spread, the acreage will retain its pastoral character.

Retail projects contributed 16 transactions to the list of 2014 commercial deals. The 126,288-SF Midtowne Little Rock ranked No. 2 among them all at $41.4 million. Nearly a third of the retail deals involved Walgreen’s.

“There are a lot of individual investors looking at these commercial net-lease properties to diversify their portfolio,” said Jeff Yates, managing partner of Little Rock’s ARK Commercial & Investment Real Estate. “They’re not wanting to put more money in the stock market but are looking for a decent return on their money to preserve and build their wealth.”

Warehouse space was the focal point of 10 transactions. An unconventional interpretation would push the number to 12 if storage space for corporate jets is included in the form of two hangars.

Hotel/motel projects accounted for nine entries. Restaurant and office projects each contributed seven deals to the mix. Auto and tractor dealership transactions brought six deals to the table as did bank branches.

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