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Housing on plus side in LR construction activity report for 2019

March 15, 2020 at 2:10 a.m.

Construction activity in Little Rock, both residential and commercial, was a mixed bag in 2019, with housing showing some signs of improvement while commercial and industrial construction decreased.

Housing and commercial activity is concentrated along the western edge of the city, in the corridor beyond Chenal Parkway.

Little Rock's 2019 Annual Urban Development Report tracks construction and related activity to monitor growth in 30 planning districts. Statistics are based on permits issued by the city.

On the residential side, the report shows that single-family new construction still has not returned to pre-recession levels.

From 2000-09, the average number of housing units added per year in Little Rock was 982; 63% of those were single-family. Since 2010, that average has been 998 units, with 35% classified as single-family, according to Michael Pakko, chief economist and state economic forecaster at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Arkansas Economic Development Institute.

Single-family housing had 391 units in 2019, up 26% from 310 units in 2018. More than 62% of the new units are in the western edges of the city.

Multifamily continued to show growth over the year with 897 requests for multifamily housing permits, an increase of 66.7% from the 538 units the year before. The largest development was a 331-unit complex at Rahling Road, just south of Chenal Parkway.

Pakko noted that there was a 51% increase in total housing units in Little Rock when combining growth in the single-family and multifamily sectors.

There was some "lumpiness" in the office and commercial construction sectors, according to Pakko.

Statistics show a sharp drop from 2018 activity, but Pakko points out that any one project in a given year -- like the 2018 permit issued for Bank OZK's new headquarters -- can skew year-over-year comparisons.

OZK's offices include a 248,000-square-foot building and an 111,000-square-foot underground parking garage. By comparison, there were no projects over 25,000 square feet last year.

For office space construction, permits were approved for 48,753 square feet of space, a big drop of 84% from 321,050 square feet in 2018. Construction spending on offices was estimated at $9.3 million, down 92% from $113.2 million.

Commercial construction was $26.5 million, down 46% from $49.1 million in 2018. That included a decline of nearly 41% in square footage from the previous year.

Again, west Little Rock dominated with the area adding nearly 113,000 square feet of the total 249,679 square feet added in the city. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites on East Fourth Street was the largest project at 68,750 square feet.

SHARING CREDIT

Arkansas Farm Credit returned $22 million to members across the state in February. The Farm Credit cooperative finances farms, homes, land, livestock and equipment for agricultural families. As a cooperative, the organization shares a portion of profits with members.

Arkansas has four Farm Credit associations divided by region, with a total of 11,699 members who received a check in February. More than $243 million in profits has been returned to Arkansas members over the past 23 years.

With $4 billion in assets, the Farm Credit Associations of Arkansas are composed of AgHeritage Farm Credit Services, Delta Agricultural Credit Association, Farm Credit Midsouth and Farm Credit of Western Arkansas.

HR GATHERING

Human resources professionals are encouraged to expand their education and learn new skills at a professional development conference in Rogers from April 1-3. The event is the state's 2020 Society for Human Resource Management Conference & Expo.

Top HR experts and speakers will be on hand to lend advice and outline best practices for companies operating in Arkansas. The conference offers educational and credit hours for attending.

Topics include employee engagement, building a talent pipeline and strengthening compensation plans.

Registration costs $400 through today. That escalates to $425 by the end of the month and to $450 once the conference begins.

More information is available at cahra.net.

CARIBBEAN EXPORTS

The Arkansas World Trade Center is hosting three events this month to promote business opportunities in the Caribbean for state businesses and farmers.

The workshops are 90-minutes each and include information about market entry strategies, export compliance and logistics trade financing.

Workshops will be held Thursday in Jonesboro and Little Rock and on Friday in Rogers. Participants will learn how to increase exports to 14 Caribbean countries.

"The Caribbean has been an important export destination for Arkansas goods and services," Melvin Torres, the center's director of Western Hemisphere trade, said in a statement.

Exports from Arkansas to the Caribbean in 2018 totaled $388 million, according to the international trade division of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Workshops are taking place ahead of a trade mission for Arkansas companies in the Caribbean in May. More information is available at arwtc.org.

NWA STOP CANCELED

Revolution's Rise of the Rest has canceled its tour stop in Northwest Arkansas because of the coronavirus. The entrepreneurial initiative was scheduled to visit Northwest Arkansas on April 23.

That's on hold now and a spokesman said the visit will be rescheduled. Check for updates at revolution.com.

The organization said "part of what make the tour so powerful is the opportunity to bring people from your community together -- with individuals in the startup world from other cities -- and celebrate what makes your city special. We want to make sure that when the bus rolls through, it has the desired catalytic impact we've promised."

The initiative is led by AOL founder Steve Case and includes member of the Walton family as investors.

SundayMonday Business on 03/15/2020

Print Headline: Housing on plus side in LR construction activity report for 2019

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