The agenda for the city Board of Directors meeting includes an item to approve zoning
for a proposed redevelopment of the Donaghey Building
at 7th and Main into an apartment and mixed-use project.
This isn't the first redevelopment proposal for the building and things can happen between proposal and completion. But it would be a monumental infusion of life into long vacant space in downtown's first skyscraper, built in 1925-26. The zoning proposal itself is routine and on the board's consent agenda. It won unanimous endorsement at the Planning Commission.
The proposal calls for 154 market-rate apartments in the 14-story building. The plan includes storage lockers, bike racks and a dog wash in the basement — all amenities that sound perfectly geared to all the young techies who'll soon be flocking to the Little Rock Tech Park a few blocks north. (Right?) There'll be a fitness center, laundry, 15-seat movie theater, meetings rooms and outdoor patio with lawn.
The Herndon, Va., developers plan 38 studio apartments, 63 one-bedroom units and 53 two-bedroom units (as large as 1,121 square feet). The developers hope for offices and retail on the ground floor.
Parking will be provided in the Metrocentre Improvement District-owned deck across Seventh Street, connected by a skywalk. There's a potential complication because the easement for walking to the deck passes through a corridor of a building leased to the Arkansas Department of Human Services, which has expressed some concerns.
The developer is LRMU LP. It's financed by five investors and is a project of All Funds, an EB-5 investment group. This is a federal program that leads to green card, or permanent U.S. residency, for foreign investors if they make an investment of $500,000 or more in a U.S. commercial enterprise and create or preserve jobs for qualified U.S. workers. This project will produce 90 jobs, the investment group estimates.
The project is expected to cost $21 million and will use historic tax credits, among other government incentives.
Robert Lubin, a lawyer who leads All Funds, is described as having spurred developments in several states, including a Mississippi casino. He has a law firm that specializes in "providing immigration services to high net worth and high-skilled clients. "
ALSO ON THE TUESDAY AGENDA: A public hearing on a 294-unit, high-rise apartment
project at 15401 Chenal Parkway
. It has won unanimous Planning Commission approval, but nearby owners of single-family residences have objected to the project.