Outlet Mall to Join Bass Pro Shops in LR

(KATV) Little Rock - There's progress along Interstate 30 on Bass Pro Shops just off the Otter Creek Exit. You can't help but wonder when you drive by, when will it open? If you drive that route, you know rush hour stays bumper to bumper. We're told that will change, but not in time for the grand opening of the 30 million dollar facility next year.

There are two departments involved. The City of Little Rock is still in the planning stages for improving city streets. The Arkansas Highway and Transportation (AHTD) has plans to make improvements, but not specifically to accommodate the retail shop.

Land has been cleared for the 30 acre 120-thousand square foot Bass Pro Shops and pond, slated to be ready by November, in time for Christmas shoppers in 2013.

The Interstate 30 and 430 junctions are a prominent location with about 100,000 cars passing by daily.

Hunters, and outdoor folks are eagerly awaiting the arrival, but for homeowners in the area who know all too well about the congested exits, they are not thrilled the store will arrive before road construction.

Developer Tommy Hodges says, "That interchange has been failing for years in engineers terms."

It's not just the Bass Pro Shops that will take up about 30 acres. Hodges says they have sold another 30 acres to an outlet mall developer. The 170 acres is for commercial use. There are plans in place for hotels, restaurants, possibly a movie theater and more retail.

Hodges adds, "The outlet mall will have about 80 retail stores and they'll be starting next summer with construction of that and it will take about a year but it will draw people from 100 miles away."

Scott Munsell with the Highway Department (AHTD) says, "The improvements are going to cover the entire interchange, all aspects of the interchange will be improved in some form or fashion."

Munsell says plans were in place to ease congestion, before the commercial center was approved. At the Otter Creek exit, it's currently a one lane connection between 430 southbound and 30 westbound, it will become two lanes. Southbound, near Stagecoach a lane will be added there as well to relief the weaving traffic.

The highway improvements will start in 18 to 24 months. It's a 10 to 15 million dollar project.

"Anytime you make improvements to an interchange you hope to make it safer and we think that's going to be accomplished with these improvements," Munsell concludes.

Hodges says they plan to build a major road from the commercial center into I30 to help traffic flow.

The Little Rock Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World will feature an Uncle Buck's Fishbowl and Grill. This nautical-themed entity, located within the store, features a truly unique atmosphere and design geared for family fun and dining. It is expected to bring 250 jobs.