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Commercial real estate booming in Jonesboro.

Highway Improvements Helping Spur Commercial, Residential Growth

A FLURRY OF HIGHWAY and road construction should be completed in Jonesboro next year, just in time to accommodate what could be one of the city's biggest real estate booms.

The fifth of eight interchanges on U.S. Highway 63 should be finished this year, says Joe Barnett, Arkansas Highway Department district engineer. Additionally, frontage roads are being built along U.S. 63, which is a bypass around Jonesboro.

The expansion of Highland Drive, or U.S. Highway 18, to five lanes also should be finished early next year, Barnett says. It is already functioning as a four-lane street.

Both projects began several years ago. Highway 63 has been divided but with no controlled access. Because of a high accident rate, overpasses and interchanges are being built.

Three more interchanges and the accompanying frontage roads will be built during the next few years, Barnett says. New construction on the entire bypass will cost about $50 million.

"The city is in the process of coming up with a plan to help move traffic through and around Jonesboro," says Mike Gott, chairman of the Jonesboro Chamber of Commerce's Streets and Highway Committee.

Commercial real estate projects are already springing up around both highways, Gott says.

"Last year we had approximately $8 million in commercial building permits," Jonesboro Mayor Hubert Brodell says. "This year we've got almost $18.5 million in permits. This construction has been very good for us."

Along Highland Drive, near the U.S. 63 bypass, Lowe's Cos. is moving to a larger building. Construction should begin this year on a new Sam's Club near the bypass, and major fast-food restaurants have been considering additional sites.

The bypass already has at least four motels -- a Wilson Inn, a Holiday Inn, a Kelly Regency Inn and a Best Western Inn -- and the Holiday Inn is planning an expansion.

New Banks, Restaurants

First State Bank of Arkansas has a new five-story building under construction along Highland Drive, which has become a banking focal point. Within blocks of First State's new building is a new branch for Mid-South Bank, and several other banks were already located in the vicinity.

Western Sizzlin relocated to a larger site on Highland Drive after the construction, and the new Wal-Mart Supercenter has led to further retail development on the widened highway.

"Any time you have improved traffic flows, you're also going to improve your industrial recruitment," says Alec Farmer, a commercial real estate developer in Jonesboro. "The highway construction is going to have a dramatic impact on Jonesboro."

Industrial growth has contributed heavily to housing growth, says Johnny White of White Realty Co. He points out that Jonesboro led the state in 1992 in job growth.

"Arkansas State University has a tremendous construction program going on," White says. "St. Bernards Regional Medical Center is bringing in about 50 new physicians this year, which creates a tremendous need for upscale housing."

The most elaborate subdivision under development is Ridge Pointe, adjacent to U.S. 63. It will feature a country club and 18-hole golf course. Homes in Ridge Pointe, White says, will range from $200,000 to $750,000.

Residential real estate is booming in Jonesboro, spurred largely by low interest rates. Brodell says Jonesboro has had 333 single family housing permits issued through nine months this year, up 30 from 1992.

Among the dozen housing developments in the Jonesboro area, White says, are Windover, Wood Springs Estates, Oak Forest and Fernwood.

"There is tremendous development in the upscale market, more than I've seen in 20 years," White says. "And there is significant development in the affordable housing market."

It has been easy to receive funding for housing because of the intense competitiveness among the city's banks, White says.

Improved Connections

While construction is active within Jonesboro, progress also continues to be made on highways connecting to the city.

U.S. Highway 49 between Jonesboro and Paragould is being widened to four lanes, with work having begun in Paragould. And by the end of 1994, when U.S. 63 is relocated and expanded to four lanes joining Interstate 55, it will give Jonesboro residents an interstate-quality route all the way to Memphis, Tenn.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Northeast Arkansas Focus; Arkansas real estate
Author:Smith, David (American novelist)
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 18, 1993
Previous Article:Paragould goes uptown.
Next Article:City rebounding after base closure.

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