The Little Rock Tech Park Authority Board is still looking at three potential tech park sites as relatively equal rivals following their meeting Wednesday afternoon.
The Tech Park Authority Board’s meeting yielded no clear favorites from three sites in its afternoon meeting. Board Chair Mary Good attributed part of the indecision to an engineer’s report that didn’t find any site particularly stronger than the others.
“They give us what the pros and the cons of the site are, but they do not eliminate, frankly, any of the sites at this point in time,” Good said.
Rett Tucker of Moses Tucker Real Estate spoke for the site on Collins Street east of Interstate 30 stressing its downtown accessibility.
“Recall also that you have great access to the central business district on Third, Fourth, Sixth and Ninth [Streets]; good connections there,” Tucker said.
Board members say they want to look into highway department plans set to widen I-30 as they consider the downtown site. Hank Kelley, presenting the site at Asher and University Avenues, highlighted its proximity to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
“The success of tech parks, in many cases, are due to their connectivity to research institutions, and we think that being a neighbor to UALR as one of the participants in this process enhances our site,” Kelley said.
The issue of flooding was raised for that site, though an engineer speaking for the project said the proper permits would allow for flood prevention measures. Pam Brown Courtney said her site on Barrow Road wouldn’t have environmental issues the other sites have, and the park would provide an economic boost to that area.
“I think the location is great, I think the timing is perfect for it, I think the developments going on in the city are conducive to what we need there. Everything you need to develop that piece of property and to make it a wonderful tech park is available,” Courtney said.
Board members seemed receptive to the Barrow Road site, though an engineer advised that its size and layout would require buildings to be made taller in order to gain adequate square footage.
After the meeting, Good said no current site will be an easy decision.
“Unfortunately, none of the three have all of the attributes we wanted, so we’re going to have to make the best compromise we possibly can, and that’s the reason it’s so difficult to do,” Good said.
The board did recognize a petition from a group claiming it represents 30 homeowners in the Forest Hills neighborhood, an area once considered a possible park site. It claims the homeowners now want to talk to the board about selling their property to the park. Good said it’s up to the Little Rock Board of Directors to reconsider the site. Rohn Muse, president of the Forest Hills Neighborhood Association says he doubts the petition is legitimate.
“One of the statements I wanted to make tonight is this … we do not want it in our area,” Muse said.
With no clear site choice emerging, the board plans to meet next month to hear from representatives of an established tech park in Fayetteville.