FAYETTEVILLE -- When Entegrity Energy Partners decided to build a new office here, the company set its sights on a mixed-use facility close to downtown, with both space for staff in addition to 28 residential apartments that will showcase the company's energy efficient designs and solar technology.
Dubbed Network, the project will be a net zero building, which means the total amount of energy used by the development each year equals the renewable energy created on the site, basically offsetting energy costs to zero. The building features solar power and its energy efficient apartments will be equipped with smart home technology.
Little Rock-based Entegrity is a sustainability and solar development company that focuses on energy conservation and renewable energy. The company has had offices in Fayetteville since 2012 but is opting for its own space currently under construction on the 200 block of South School Avenue.
The development is across the street from the Fayetteville Public Library's new addition, close to the city's Cultural Arts Corridor and a short stroll from the extensive system of trails, which link to the Razorback Greenway.
"We are thrilled," John Coleman, regional director for Entegrity, said in a recent interview. "We really couldn't ask for a better location.
Network is the first net zero mixed-use development in the state, according to the company. Back in 2017, Entegrity's headquarters in Little Rock -- in a renovated circa 1958 building -- was the state's first net zero project. It is indicative of the type of project the city likes to see, said Jonathan Curth, development services director for the Fayetteville Planning Commission.
First, it meets the need for mixed use work/life spaces close to city amenities and secondly it's built to be energy efficient. He said while the city has set the stage for infill activity in the vicinity of the Network development, it's mostly being driven by market forces.
"A lot of what's happening there is organic," Curth said.
According to the New Building Institute's website, there are 151 net zero buildings in the U.S., but not all of them are certified. The New Building Institute works with various players "to promote advanced design practices, innovative technologies, public policies and programs that improve energy efficiency," it read.
The building is being managed by Fayetteville-based Specialized Real Estate Group Inc., which is now pre-leasing apartment space at Network with move in expected in August. Apartments vary in size from 470 square feet to 710 square feet with rents ranging from about $900 to about $1,150, with all utilities included.
"We wanted to be in the middle of the market rate on rent," Coleman said.
According to the most recent Skyline Report the vacancy rate for multi-family properties in Benton and Washington counties for the second half of 2020 was 5%, up slightly from 4.8% for the previous six months and from 4.9% from the same period in 2019. The Fayetteville vacancy rate was 4.8% for the last half of 2020, down from 5.9% for the first half of the year and from 5.6% for the last half of 2019.
Coleman said the $5.2 million Network project is about 70% complete and should be finished by July. He said the company beat recently skyrocketing construction costs by locking in its lumber prices and other needs before prices accelerated.
The three-story, U-shaped Network will feature 4,000 square feet of office space for Entegrity, along with an additional 1,700 square feet of office space for lease. There will be 28 residential apartments, all one-bedroom, with four on the ground floor and 24 units total on the second and third floors.
The building will also include recharging stations for electric vehicles, covered areas for bike parking and communal balconies with impressive views of the Boston Mountains.