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Coming out of storage.

Warehouse Developers Spending Millions To Create A New Distribution Hub In West Little Rock

The 65th Street-Scott Hamilton Drive corridor in southwest Little Rock once was the hot spot for warehouse development.

Beginning in the late 1950s, movers and shakers such as William Rector Sr., Everett Tucker and Gus Blass II helped build warehouse projects costing millions of dollars and covering hundreds of thousands of SF.

The 65th Street Industrial Park, a catalyst for development in the area, originally was destined for Jacksonville. Its backers couldn't secure enough land, however.

Jacksonville's loss was Little Rock's gain.

Since then, the population of Little Rock has continued to shift west.

And momentum is growing for a distribution hub in west Little Rock that will dovetail with the demographic shift.

The focal point of the distribution hub is the intersection of South Shackleford and Col. Glenn roads, east of Interstate 430.

About 110 acres of industrial-zoned property are in the area, and Little Rock businessmen Richard Toll, Kelton Brown Sr. and Bill Brandon have staked claims on part of it.

Toll and Brown are biding their time.

Brandon, however, is developing a $4-million office-warehouse complex on 12 acres north of Col. Glenn Road with frontage on Shackleford Road.

Brandon is following that up with a five-acre buy from Brown that should close soon at $100,000. The tract, which will be held for future development, is located south of Col. Glenn near the Little Rock Water Works property on Shackleford.

Brandon is so high on the area he considered securing an even larger amount of land.

"There's just no property in west Little Rock zoned I-1 and I-2," he says. "That's what is making this property so valuable."

"I thought about tying up more land out there, but greed and ego will get you in trouble. I play it safe instead of sorry."

Brandon bought 18 acres from the Resolution Trust Corp. for $114,000 about six months ago. He donated more than five acres in the Brodie Creek floodway to the city.

His 12-acre project will include five buildings and create a 191,000-SF office-warehouse complex. Tenant space will be leased in 5,000-SF increments.

The first warehouse to go up will have 42,500 SF under roof and be finished by January.

Brandon Moving & Storage Inc. will relocate from its quarters at 8100 Scott Hamiton Drive and utilize 22,500 SF. The rest will be for lease.

"West Little Rock is just beginning to boom," says Brandon in what many hope will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Build And Sell

Brandon is continuing a build-and-sell pattern established a decade ago. His past developments include:

* Allied Way, a seven-acre development with one 20,000-SF warehouse. Brandon sold the $450,000 project to the U-Haul Co. six years ago for about $600,000.

* Brandon Place, a five-acre development with three warehouses totaling 176,000 SF. Brandon sold the $1 million project to an investment group put together by The Danny Thomas Co. of Little Rock seven years ago for $1.8 million.

* Brandon Van & Storage, a five-acre development with three warehouses totaling 175,000 SF. Brandon sold the $200,000 project to Gus Blass II about 10 years ago for $600,000.

Brandon also is trying to sell Brandon Square, a $3.3 million development he began in 1986. It covers 11 acres. Its five buildings have an 80-20 split between warehouse and office space. The 200,000-SF project is 100 percent leased.

Brandon and a partner, Max Davis, own Green Mountain Plaza, a 23,000-SF retail development in west Little Rock.

"It's an experience, let me tell you," Brandon says of the retail development. "I would rather have office-warehouse space."

Brandon's other non-warehouse investment is 3,000 acres in Faulkner County west of Mayflower. Since 1984, he and another partner, Harry McDermott, have developed three residential subdivisions -- Rocky Gap, Red Oak Acres and Mayflower Country.

Has Brandon come up with a name for his new warehouse project?

"I thought about calling it West Little Rock Commercial Park or something like that," he says. "But we have traditionally named our projects Brandon this or Brandon that. We just might call it Brandon Commercial Park."

Brandon bought an eight-acre site on Arkansas 10 with the intention of developing his next project there. The property is in one of the transitional zones, and Brandon decided to sell it for $190,000 to a group of investors put together by Maury Mitchell of Little Rock.

Last year's sale came six months after Brandon bought the property.

Why didn't he hang onto it?

"Had I thought I could handle the rezoning, I would have," Brandon says. "But I didn't want to fight it, so I sold it for a small profit. I |have~ the philosophy of never holding out for the highest dollar. You also have to know what works where."

Wait And See

Brandon isn't the only one who has kept an eye on the Colonel Glenn-South Shackleford area.

Toll, president of the Toll Corp. in Little Rock, has had an interest in the area for more than two decades. He owns more than 50 acres near Shackleford and Col. Glenn roads.

Earlier this year, Toll filed a request to rezone about 28 acres near the southwest corner of the intersection from R-2 residential to I-2 industrial.

He withdrew the request in August after the city's planning staff recommended an I-1 rezoning. The Little Rock Planning Commission never voted on the proposal.

The main difference between the two designations is that I-1 zoning requires a site plan review before the city will issue a building permit. I-1 is labeled the city's most restrictive industrial district.

City planners wanted Toll to provide a large buffer of open space next to two houses and donate right of way for the widening of Col. Glenn Road.

Toll isn't in a hurry to make such concessions. He balked at the city's offer and decided to take a wait-and-see approach.

The Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department eventually will widen Col. Glenn-Arkansas 300 and pay Toll for the right of way.

The buffer idea will become a moot point when the two neighboring houses are removed and the land is redeveloped for commercial use.

There's also talk of forming an improvement district that will lay the foundation for future development in the Col. Glenn-Shackleford corridor.

"The question is when," says one cautious warehouse developer. "The economy is just not there right now. I'm renewing leases today at prices from 10 years ago. That's how bad it is."

Still, Brandon is moving forward with his plans. His moves could stimulate other action.

"I really love building," Brandon says. "I like making someplace better."

His development formula hasn't failed him yet.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Bill Brandon is developing an office-warehouse complex in West Little Rock
Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 14, 1991
Previous Article:Commercial concerns.
Next Article:John T. Hardin.

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