A nearly 22 acre site adjacent to UALR was formally recommended to the Little Rock Technology Park Board by an advisory board Tuesday. The Oak Forest site, as it is known, has 56 residences of which UALR owns nearly half.
Chancellor Joel Anderson said the reasons for proximity to research institutions like UALR or UAMS has been overlooked.
“The point of departure for it all was research, university research, commercializing university research, and jobs in our case jobs for the people of Little Rock. The use of the term “tech park” rather than “research park” has made this an easy misconception. I believe for many "tech park" brings to mind the laptop culture rather than the university laboratory,” said Anderson.
In order for UALR to sell the land to the board Anderson said the university has a few conditions.
“They would formally commit to the federal guidelines for fair treatment of private property owners who are displaced for a public project like this in the public interest. That assures fair treatment, reasonable treatment, not only for property owners but also of renters,” said Anderson.
He said he's confident after talking with residents eminent domain would not be needed for this site. Board member Jerry Jones voted to recommend the site but voiced concerns the Tech Park Board is not legally bound to follow provisions benefiting renters and property owners outlined by Chancellor Anderson. However, Jones noted UALR’s financial, cultural, and infrastructure resources would at least give the university considerable leverage.
Several sites have been under consideration since voters approved a sales tax in 2011 for the project.