Jerry Meyer, a real estate man who now works in acquisitions for the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System and is a former member of the Little Rock Planning Commission, has distributed to the Fair Park neighborhood a letter supporting land at Asher and Fair Park (adjoining UALR) as the site of the proposed Little Rock Technology Park. I've mentioned that idea a time or two.
See what you think of what he has to say. It's within, or right at the edge of, the 5-minute drive time criteria rather subjectively chosen as a requirement for the project relative to UAMS and UALR. There are no homes on the site. The land is primarily owned by UALR, but a small strip center and a muffler shop are in private hands. (Disclosure: Meyer leases a small building he owns across the street to a pizza parlor.)
JERRY MEYER LETTER
Everyone has an opinion on the Technology Park, thanks for taking the time to consider mine. Going straight to the issue the location that would absolutely benefit all involved is the NW corner of Asher and Fair Park intersection. The benefit to the neighborhood is that no single family residences (SFR) would be involved. Even though locating the technology park at the Methodist Youth Home site would minimize SFR demolished, surrounding homes would be degraded by having mid-rise buildings looking down on them. The other two proposed sites would require in excess of 200 condemnations, each having separate negotiations and potential legal actions. By removing these housing stocks the neighborhoods would lose the critical mass needed to sustain the area. Residential property values would surely be degraded due to the light pollution from parking lots and mid-rise buildings, anecdotal-ly high tech research tends to be 24/7.
UALR would hugely benefit regardless of the outcome of the technology park at the Asher-Fair Park location. The success of the technology park is not guaranteed, although its chances seem good and the risk worthwhile as the nation continues on the road to be a manufacturer of technology and innovation as opposed to a manufacturer of goods. If the venture is a huge success the benefits of having the Technology Park virtually on campus hardly need to be described. Also if it turns out to be a hit, more land exists to the south of Asher and down University in the form of acres of unused car lots.Conversely, if the Technology Park does not succeed, UALR will have access to relatively inexpensive developed expansion space. The UALR-University shopping center expansion some years back appears to have been a great value per square foot of usable space. The Asher Fair Park location would require negotiating with only three landowners, the largest of which is the U of A who has no immediate development plans for that parcel. It is probable that a long term ground lease structure could be satisfactorily negotiated with all involved so that the land reverts back to the U of A in 99 years. The cost savings from dealing with only 3 owners as opposed to hundreds cannot be overstated.
The surrounding neighborhoods would benefit from the Asher-Fair Park location as no SFR would be demolished, no SFR would be affected by light pollution and 24 hour use would not be detrimental as no SFR adjoin. The site cost would be dramatically lowered and the loss of existing street/utility infrastructure would be minimal at Asher-Fair Park. The U of A has encouraged investment through its University District program. The residents and businesses of Fair Park and surrounding neighborhoods have answered that call and for the most part we've invested our life savings. Now is the time for the U of A to reciprocate and advocate for the best site to locate the Technology Park, which it actually controls.