Big hauler to pick LR or NLR site

North-of-river alternative added, reportedly for a FedEx hub

Posted: June 5, 2014 at 6:11 a.m.

A site plan has been submitted to North Little Rock for a large distribution warehouse and truck terminal -- a plan strikingly similar to one filed earlier with Little Rock.

Proposed warehouse and truck terminal sites

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola says Saad Development Corp. of Mobile, Ala., told him that it would build a facility for FedEx Corp. and is on a tight schedule.

The North Little Rock plan is a backup in case the Little Rock plan does not work out, Stodola said. The Little Rock plan was filed April 7, and the North Little Rock plan was filed April 29.

The North Little Rock site is on 40.96 acres in the Galloway Industrial Park "next to where J.M. Products used to be," North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith said, adding he doesn't know anything about his city being a fallback site.

"When I met with these developers, I did not talk with them about the property they were looking at in Little Rock," Smith said. "I don't know if this is a what-if situation or not. We're glad either way if they're choosing to bring that kind of investment into central Arkansas."

FedEx did not return a telephone call Wednesday about the proposals and said nothing substantive in April when the Little Rock plan surfaced.

Just as with the plan submitted to Little Rock, the North Little Rock plan shows a 305,000-square-foot building, 100 loading docks, and spaces for hundreds of trailers. It is on Tuesday's agenda at the North Little Rock Planning Commission.

An employee-parking lot on both plans shows a capacity for about 500 vehicles.

The Little Rock site is on 44.2 acres south of the intersection of Interstates 30 and 430 and south of the Gateway Town Center, where the Bass Pro Shops sits.

Both plans were developed by White-Daters and Associates of Little Rock, which said in letters accompanying the plans that it was representing a "large national tenant."

Stodola said Gregg Saad, owner of the development company, for which FedEx is a major client, said, "We like your site in Little Rock, but we've got to make sure we've got a contingency plan if we need it."

"Obviously, I'm hopeful they select the Little Rock site," Stodola said.

Both mayors say they stand ready to offer incentives if they might be the determining factor.

Smith said North Little Rock does have the advantage of producing its own electricity, which can be used as a bargaining tool. Last month, the city assisted the Ben E. Keith Co. with a $60 million, 300,000-square-foot expansion.

A $1.5 million federal grant will help North Little Rock purchase generators and other equipment for installation near where Interstates 40 and 440 meet -- close to its proposed FedEx site -- to serve Ben E. Keith's new facility and to attract other industry.

North Little Rock marshaled an $800,000 package for Ben E. Keith, which said it had been looking at moving its North Little Rock center to the Memphis area.

The generators can serve Ben E. Keith and the municipality at peak-demand times at a much lower rate than on the open market, Smith said when the Keith expansion was announced.

Stodola said the city could help the company with infrastructure.

Grant Tennille, executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, declined to comment on the proposals.

Saad Development has worked out concerns over wetlands and a stream on the Little Rock site with the Corps of Engineers, according to Chris Davies, a regulatory project manager with the Corps. The Corps approved the plan on Friday, Davies said.

As did the larger city to the south, North Little Rock resolved a wetlands concern by purchasing credits, designed to offset the adverse effects on the environment, which will be reimbursed by the developer, Smith said.

Saad Development had no comment on the Little Rock project last month and efforts to contact a spokesman for the company on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

A Section on 06/05/2014