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Mayflower Land Co.: a group of legal eagles from Little Rock are soaring over a big Faulkner County spread.

Mayflower Land Co.

A Group Of Legal Eagles From Little Rock Are Soaring Over A Big Faulkner County Spread

A group of lawyers from the Friday Eldredge Clark firm have assembled over the past 15 years a 5,000-acre spread of land in the rough backroads and hills in southeast Faulkner County that has gone unnoticed for the most part.

The property is located east of Lake Conway and north of Ark. Hwy. 89, and from atop a series of stairstepped ridges the skyline of downtown Little Rock is visible across the rolling woodlands of Camp Robinson to the south. This panoramic vista is the kind people pay big bucks to enjoy from the comfort of their own home.

At some point in the years to come, the landowners intend to cash in on this rustic setting, and the ensuing residential development is likely to multiply their million-dollar stake several fold.

"A couple of times we've had it down on blue prints, but it just didn't work out," reveals Greg Friday, a partner in Mayflower Land Co. "The original intent, on down the road, was to develop it or sell it to someone who was going to develop it. We've done some long-range things to look at creating lakes, but there's absolutely nothing on the drawing boards now.

"Ultimately that land will bring a tidy little sum for those of us who are still around to enjoy it."

In The Beginning There Were 20

The investment group, which originally numbered around 20, has dwindled below a dozen now as partners have sold off their interest to the remaining members of the Mayflower Land Co.

On an individual basis, the land is now owned by various and sundry lawyers with the Friday Eldredge Clark firm and trusts they have set up. The players include: William L. Patton Jr., Herschel Friday, William H. Sutton, Gregory Friday, Michael G. Thompson, Byron M. Eiseman Jr. and William J. Smith.

The First Track

The assembly process began in December 1975 with Mayflower Land Co. buying about 3,100 acres. According to real estate records that deal closed at $600,000 - $75,000 in cash and $450,000 carried on a 10-year promissory note bearing 8 percent interest. More than 1,500 acres have been added over the years.

To cover property taxes and other out-of-pocket expenses, parts of the property were leased out, trees were cut for pulpwood and railroad ties, and cattle and crops were raised.

"The land's there; we're enjoying it, and it's paying for itself," reports William J. Smith, a partner and spokesman of the Mayflower Land Co. "We really don't want to sell anything until someone wants it bad enough to put a house on it.

"It may be the next generation before that development happens. There may be someone who comes along to buy it, but I'd like to hunt there the rest of my life."

In fact, quail hunting was what attracted the lawyers to buy the land in the first place. Hershel Friday has built a nice weekend home on what is known as Bobwhite Hill Ranch complete with an airstrip and hangar, electronic skeet range, swimming pool and tennis court.

Getting Edgy

But it's the future development plans that have made some of the residents with adjoining property to the north edgy. They think there's more than meets the eye to the recent closing of Abbott Road, which prevents direct access from Hwy. 89 to Stone Mountain Road.

"I think if they can squeeze these people out of here then they can redevelop this area as an exclusive neighborhood and create some of the nicest homes around," observes John Futrell, who lives on Stone Mountain.

The northern end of Abbott Road is owned by the Mayflower Land Co. but was open to traffic for several years. The closing has forced current and prospective residents of Stone Mountain to take a more circuitous route from Hwy. 89.

Why Abbott road has been barricaded and partially destroyed to prevent access with Stone Mountain Road is a question that arouses strong feelings.

"I don't want any part of that controversy with the road," states William J. Smith, a partner and spokesman for the Mayflower Land Co. Smith grew uncomfortable when asked for specific details about the road and said: "I have no comment on that, and if you say otherwise, I'd say you're a liar."

The disagreement is obviously a sore spot with the lawyer-landowners, and it's an unpleasantry that promises to stick around for awhile - even if the topic is branded taboo by some. The residents on Stone Mountain have retained the legal services of Sam Heuer, a compadre of John Wesley Hall Jr., and they are raising funds to press the issue in Faulkner County Chancery Court in the coming weeks.

The property was originally part of Camp Robinson until the end of World War II when the government opted to sell 12,000 acres lying north of Hwy. 89 as surplus land.

It's been more than 40 years since battlefield maneuvers have taken place here. The sound of conflict, albeit a more civilized version, has returned here with the squabble between Mayflower Land Co. and the Stone Mountain residents. The outcome will likely be decided before a judge. In the meantime, the Mayflower Land Co.'s property becomes increasingly valuble.

PHOTO : THE NEXT MAUMELLE?: A 5,000-acre tract of land between Little Rock and Conway has been assembled over the past 15 years by Friday law firm attorneys and friends. Currently used for hunting and farming, some say it's earmarked for massive residential development in the future.
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Article Details
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Author:Waldon, George
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:May 21, 1990
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