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Arkansas Best Corp. offices to consolidate.

$10 Million Project Will Place Fort Smith Enterprise Under One Roof

A $959 MILLION ENTERPRISE in Fort Smith will have to wait until Christmas 1994 before opening a $10 million present wrapped in steel and concrete.

Arkansas Best Corp. is making the investment to bring all of its corporate offices under one roof. The focal point of the 48-acre development is a 190,000-SF office building and a two-level parking deck. The project will allow the company to consolidate 700 employees in one locale instead of having them scattered around town.

"That will pretty much cover all of the office personnel," says Randall Loyd, director of financial reporting for Arkansas Best.

The project will also include a 35,000-SF retail center called Cornerstone Place. Arkansas Best will use about 4.5 acres for this $2 million specialty retailing and services project.

"The development really wasn't done to offset their office development costs," says Dickson Flake, partner in the Little Rock-based commercial development firm of Barnes Quinn Flake & Anderson Inc. "They want services that their employees will need like a travel agent, eating establishment and a bank."

The 48-acre site tipped the scales at a reported $1.43 million (about 68 cents per SF). Arkansas Best bought the land in December 1992 from trusts held by the Kelley family -- Cleon V. Kelley, Gordon Kelley and Elizabeth Kelley Weeks.

The property was once part of a large dairy farm. An old two-story stone residence will be restored as an outparcel of the retail project.

Who's Who & Who's Where

The players in the development are a Little Rock lineup that includes The Cromwell Firm, project architect, and Barnes Quinn Flake & Anderson Inc., development manager. Negotiations are ongoing with Baldwin & Shell Construction Co. of Little Rock to be the general contractor.

"It's moving on schedule, and portions of it will go out for bid in two weeks," Flake says. "Site utilities, site work and structural steel are already out for bid."

The construction site is located on the southeast corner of Gary Street and Old Greenwood Road, across Interstate 540 from the Fort Smith Regional Airport.

The main headquarters of Arkansas Best has been located at 1000 S. 21st St. since the early '70s. Other Arkansas Best offices moved into several nearby outlying buildings when the company outgrew the ABF Freight System headquarters at 301 S. 11th St.

Data-Tronics Corp., which provides data processing services for Arkansas Best and its subsidiaries, is located in the old Mid-America Building at 100 S. 10th St.

Several corporate departments, such as human resources, internal audit and safety, are scattered elsewhere around downtown Fort Smith. The largest department is the customer service department of ABF Freight System, which is housed near the ABF terminal at 1221 Wheeler Ave.

The new offices will also house another Arkansas Best subsidiary, Best Logistics Inc. This business segment helps customers set up and operate their distribution and transportation network, often with an Arkansas Best employee working on-site.

When the new corporate headquarters is completed, Arkansas Best will have its staff on-site, as well.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 25, 1993
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