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story.lead_photo.caption Property at 25 and 27 Rahling Circle, part of the The Village at Rahling Road development, sold recently for $4 million. - Photo by John Sykes Jr.

Just vacant lots 20 years ago but ripe for development, a 3.35-acre retail center in west Little Rock has been sold for $4 million to Varr West LLC, led by Charles Darwin "Skip" Davidson, a Little Rock attorney and cattleman.

Davidson and fellow investors in Varr West purchased the property, at 25-27 Rahling Circle, from Deltic Timber Corp. of El Dorado, the primary developer of Chenal Valley in west Little Rock. Deltic bought the property in 1998 for $129,000 and developed the site.

The lots are part of what is now known as The Village at Rahling Road, consisting of about 10 acres.

ArkBest Realty, also owned by Davidson, will be the property manager and leasing agent.

"We bought the property at what we think is a good price," Davidson said last week. "We believe this is the center of the future of commercial development in Little Rock. We just need to get it leased up."

One lot consists of more than 21,700 square feet of retail and commercial space, including the upscale Arthur's Prime Steakhouse, Oceans at Arthur's, O'Looney's Wine and Liquor, and Cantina Cinco De Mayo restaurant. The other lot has another 11,000 square feet of commercial space anchored now by the Diet Center and other medical and law offices.

The property is 75 percent leased, Davidson said.

"We have some outstanding operators now and we're fortunate to have them on the property," Davidson said. "Everything else is suitable for professionals in medical, accounting and law," he said.

Davidson, who also runs a 300-head cattle farm along the Arkansas River near the Little Rock Port Authority, won't be moving his own law office, now at Garland Street and Cantrell Road near downtown, to his new property.

"That's only because I already own that building," he said.

The Village at Rahling Road was nothing but vacant lots in August 1997 when the Little Rock City Board of Directors approved the project as "dense urban development inside of and around Rahling Circle, with large expanses of landscape and buffer along Chenal Parkway and Rahling Road," according to city records.

A 1998 article in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on the area opened with: "There's not much on Rahling Road, and Little Rock planners hope to keep it that way," referring to the idea then that Rahling would not be a 21st-century version of traffic-clogged Cantrell Road, Markham Street or Rodney Parham Road.

By late 2012, the city board changed the zoning for Rahling Road from residential low- and medium-density to office and neighborhood commercial. Deltic spent $8 million over the last couple of years to widen the road, in preparation for more housing, office and retail development.

Since Deltic began working in Chenal Valley in 1986, 2,980 lots have been developed in 37 neighborhoods with 2,788 residences constructed or under construction, Deltic reported last March in its annual 10-K filing of its financial performance with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.

"When fully developed, Chenal Valley could include approximately 4,600 single-family residences," the company said. "However, the actual number of residences in Chenal Valley will depend on final land usages and lot densities."

SundayMonday Business on 12/03/2017

Print Headline: Investors led by LR attorney buy Rahling Road retail center

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