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Land of milk and money: former dairy land in North Little Rock produces more than $6.5 million in commercial sales.

The property just west of Interstate 430 on either side of Maumelle Boulevard once was the land of milk, if not honey.

Dairy cattle from several farms roamed the pastures there until the 1970s.

Since then, the land has been devoted to commercial development.

A steady flow of sales and construction projects has progressed west along Maumelle Boulevard and north up Count Massie Road.

Thirty-five transactions tracked by Kierre Realty Inc. of North Little Rock account for more than $6.5 million in sales of developed and undeveloped property.

"I guess ... we're working with 400 acres," says Lee Kierre, president of Kierre Realty. "It has been real good for us."

The area has been under North Little Rock's extraterritorial control since the early 1970s. Land zoned for industrial and commercial use totals more than 1,000 acres.

Some of the property already is within the city limits, and more will be annexed soon.

Kierre describes it as "a steady growth area."

He says, "We've taken it from $4,000 an acre to $100,000 an acre. That's how much it has changed."

Kierre prefers growth to be "steady and controlled rather than have it boom and then slow down. Nearly everything we do is in this area."

The area is poised to become the hot spot for commercial-industrial development in central Arkansas.

The northeast corner of Maumelle Boulevard and Count Massie Road has changed hands three times in the past 14 years. In 1977, 10 acres sold for $44,000. The price hit $123,000 just 13 months later and hit $357,000 in the mid-1980s.

Only about 7.9 acres remain after Maumelle Boulevard was widened. Still, it is carrying a price tag of $690,000 ($2 per SF).

The scale of available land and accessibility to the interstate network are selling points.

Comparable sites in west Little Rock are scarce, and some developers would rather deal with the planning bureaucracy north of the Arkansas River than in Little Rock.

"It's always easier to do something in a smaller city like North Little Rock than in a bigger city like Little Rock," says John Wright, president of John Wright Construction Co. in North Little Rock.

Growing Concern

The Count Massie Road area, which has seen steady activity in recent years, is home to three commercial subdivisions -- Collins Industrial Park, Kierre & Frazier subdivision and Wright's Industrial subdivision.

What attracted home builder Wright to the area?

He was looking for an investment and a place to eventually put a warehouse and office. Wright bought 20 acres there in 1980.

"There was nothing down the road to speak of," Wright says. "Development has really taken off since 1987."

A partial roster of sales by Wright includes:

* Nov. 1, 1986: Advance Fiberglass Inc. purchased a .63-acre site for $20,000 (73 cents per SF). The company bought additional land for $26,000 in August.

* April 1, 1987: Golden Flake Snack Foods Inc. purchased a .63-acre site for $25,000 (91 cents per SF).

* June 21, 1988: Joe and Cathy Davis purchased a .79-acre site for McDonald's Corp. corporate offices for $26,500 (77 cents per SF).

* Dec. 30, 1988: Rhea and Wilma Taylor purchased a .91-acre site as the future home of Taylor Sales Inc. for $25,000 (63 cents per SF).

* Jan. 20, 1989: Beck Scott purchased a .91-acre site as the future home of Scott Plumbing Co. for $25,000 (63 cents per SF).

* April 25, 1991: Charles and Nikki Harper purchased a .89-acre site as the future home of Harper Construction Co. for $20,000 (51 cents per SF).

* Aug. 5, 1991: Icee of Arkansas bought John Wright's warehouse facility for $150,000.

Small buyers are dominating other sales activity in the area. They include:

* Feb. 26, 1990: Dobb's Overhead Door Co. bought a .87-acre site for $22,400 (59 cents per SF).

* Aug. 8, 1990: Robert and Theresa Keene bought a one-acre site and building for Landscape Associates Inc. for $77,450.

* Nov. 8, 1990: Asplundh Tree Expert Co. bought a one-acre site and building for $72,000.

Wright and Kierre have developed their lots piecemeal.

However, John Collins Rogers, president of Rogers Realty in Little Rock, has opened 20 lots in the Collins Industrial Park.

Rogers, who oversees the estate of Herbert Collins, has sold two parcels.

Robert Anderson Hardy bought a three-acre site in June 1988 for $45,000 (34 cents per SF) to house Hardy Construction Co.

In January, Tri-City Concrete bought a 3.06-acre site for $47,000 (35 cents per SF) and adjoining land for $16,000.

Other subdivisions and sales are sure to follow when the entire area becomes part of North Little Rock.

The sun won't be setting on commercial development till the cows come home.
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Article Details
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Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Oct 21, 1991
Previous Article:Coming in 1992: Central Arkansas commercial real estate leaders look at what the future holds.
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