Little Rock Looks Up: 7 Downtown Projects Set to Open by Year’s End

A flurry of behind-the-scenes activity indicates a restart is in the works for a key part of the Creative Corridor in downtown Little Rock.

Lawsuits and countersuits surrounding unpaid work on the dormant 125,000-SF Main Street Lofts redevelopment recently were dismissed.

The order in Pulaski County Circuit Court alludes to a financial settlement that squared away more than $1.3 million in claims on the three-building project at 510-524 Main St. by Little Rock’s AMR Construction and its subcontractors.

A new entity, Deep Creek LR LLC, also became the owner of the former M.M. Cohn Building at 510 Main St. Real estate documents portray the change as a reorganization and an internal shift in ownership, a transaction valued at $2.1 million.

Trailing behind this, the lead construction lender, Riverside Bank of Sparkman, released its security interest in the 62,688-SF building. The property secured a 2015 mortgage of $2 million held by the bank.

Delinquent property taxes totaling $30,542 for 2012-15 also were paid, tying up another loose end in advance of renewed work on the building or a possible sale.

All these developments come two years after activity moved from the construction site to the courthouse when AMR Construction walked off the job in April 2015. AMR received an $896,756 arbitration award that was converted to a judgment last year against the Main Street Lofts ownership group, then led by Scott Reed of Portland, Oregon. According to sources, his role with the project has changed.

“I believe that Scott Reed is out of the picture, except he may be consulting with the new group because of his knowledge about the entire project,” said Phil Kaplan, a member of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors. “We made it clear we didn’t want to deal with him.”

Will the symphony set up shop in part of the M.M. Cohn Building as originally planned?

“The ASO is still very interested in the possibility of becoming a tenant in the building if the terms can be worked out,” Kaplan said.

Various parties involved with past workout attempts for Main Street Lofts considered Reed to be the biggest obstacle to getting the project back on track. His removal from the forefront is touted as a leading cause that momentum is restored.

“Scott’s got a lot of pride,” said one Little Rock businessman who’s spent more frustrating time with Reed than he cares to count. “He’s never wrong. He may be a super salesman, but he just can’t take it to the finish line.”

Two blocks to the north, the 32-unit K Lofts apartment project that Reed started but couldn’t finish was brought back to life earlier this year. As with Main Street Lofts, internal pressure from investors is credited with restoring order.

Elevator inspection and installation of the remaining appliances are two of the last big checklist items remaining before the apartments at 315 Main St. are ready for showing to prospective tenants.

“We’re getting very close,” said Matt Foster, owner of Little Rock’s MWF Construction LLC. “We hope to be finished up during the next three weeks.”

MWF’s $375,000 contract to finish K Lofts is among a string of construction jobs in downtown Little Rock expected to be completed before year’s end.

The biggest of the bunch is the seven-story, $12.5 million Hilton Garden Inn at 322 Rock St. Progress on the 140-room hotel is on pace for a fall opening.

“For working in a dense urban environment, it’s been pretty smooth,” said William Clark, CEO of Little Rock’s Clark Contractors LLC. “We’ll be finished with our part in August.

“A couple months after that, it should open.”

The project will house nearly 4,000 SF of meeting space and a full-service restaurant and bar on the ground floor named The Garden and a top-floor venue called Posh.

Seven blocks to the south, the three-story, 48-unit Clayton on Scott apartment project is moving toward completion in August.

“We’re in the finish-out phase,” said Jonathan Shively, president of Little Rock’s Central Construction Group. “We’re in the process of about to start painting.”

The $4 million construction project at 915 Scott St. is among four sizable jobs the company has going in downtown Little Rock.

Construction of 16 apartments at 1300 E. Sixth St., part of the $7 million Sterling Paint redevelopment, should be completed by early fall.

“We’re doing site work and framing out the second-floor apartments,” Shively said.

Workers also are preparing space on the ground floor for new offices of Cromwell Architects Engineers and a 4,000-SF restaurant, whose identity remains under wraps.

“We’re hoping that all comes together by the end of the year,” Shively said.

Central Construction recently began work to redevelop the former M.M. Eberts American Legion Post at 315 E. Capitol Ave. into the Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge.

The $913,000 project should be complete in about six months, along with a neighboring redevelopment.

Next door, the former Paragon Printing Building at 307 E. Capitol Ave. is marked for a $1.2 million transformation into Fassler Hall, a German-style beer hall and restaurant, The two projects will be the first Arkansas endeavors for The McNellie’s Group of Tulsa, the hospitality enterprise behind both concepts.

Ground-floor space is taking shape in the former Fulk-Arkansas Democrat Building.

The new home of Three Fold Noodles & Dumpling Co. will round out the redevelopment, which includes eight completed apartments on the second floor.

The finish-out work by Little Rock’s Tycor Construction should be completed by mid-September. The $450,000 project at 611 Main St. will provide seating for 120.