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New development planned for shuttered Sears location in midtown Little Rock

The former Sears department store and auto service location and surrounding commercial property in the Midtown area of Little Rock have been sold. (Google Earth photo)

The former Sears department store and auto service location and surrounding commercial property in the Midtown area of Little Rock have been sold to a privately-held Texas real estate group that specializes in developing large, upscale mixed-use and retail sites.

Jeff Yates, managing partner of ARK Commercial & Investment Real Estate, confirmed Wednesday (Oct. 19) that Dallas-based Provident Realty Advisors Inc. had recently purchased the former site of the Sears retail location; the Doctors Building; Midtown Medical Park; ASO Plaza (Doctors Plaza), and the former site of Doctors Hospital, located at Interstate 630 and South University Avenue.

Yates, whose firm represents Little Rock Medical Associates (LRMA) in the multi-million dollar real estate transaction, said the South side of the property now housing the shuttered Sears location will be fully redeveloped. The other parts of the property will retain their current use for the foreseeable future, including the Doctors Building and the Midtown Medical Park property, he said.

“This deal means more jobs for the people of Little Rock and it helps revitalize our local economy,” Yates said. “The sale also presents a prime opportunity for the continued redevelopment of our growing Midtown area. This is great news for Little Rock.”

Added Edward Matthews, Managing General Partner of LRMA: “We have owned this property for close to 40 years. It’s an incredible site, and we saw a lot of interest from prospective buyers. However, we believe the proposal we accepted presents a great fit for the site, and for the people who live, work, and shop in the area.”

DALLAS DEVELOPER HAS LARGE PORTFOLIO OF UPSCALE PROJECTS

According to marketing materials from Dallas-based SHOP Companies, the new upscale development will be called the “SHOPS at University Village,” and includes plans for a grocery store development to anchor the 30-acre urban site abutting I-630.

Brad Kruger, asset manager for Provident Realty Advisors, did not immediately respond to phone calls from Talk Business & Politics concerning the project, which Yates estimated would include more than $100 million in new investment. The affiliated SHOP Companies, which styles itself as a retail investment advisory and brokerage firm, has been marketing leases in the new development to local and national retail businesses.

Provident Realty Advisors is a well-known real estate investment firm in the Dallas area with several large mix-use and other commercial projects in various stages of development. The company’s portfolio ranges from single-family homes and large apartment complexes to open-air retail centers and mixed-use developments.

Current projects on the table include the multi-million dollar Preston Hollow Village, a master planned 42-acre development in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in Dallas. At the conclusion of five phases, the project is expected to hold 1,200 residential units, including up to 140 townhouses, 300,000 square feet of retail and boutique office space, and a three-acre park.

The Dallas-based firm also is rehabbing the former Houston-based global headquarters of Texas oil giant Texaco, which was purchased by Chevron in 2000 for $36 billion. That project includes 300 apartments, 10,000 square feet of retail, and a 500 space parking garage.

The Texas real estate group is also working on a high-profile mixed-use project in midtown Dallas that will include a total of 3,800 units of multi-family, 90,000 square feet of retail and 930,000 square feet of office space.

MONEY-LOSING SEARS CLOSING URBAN LOCATIONS NATIONWIDE

In order to move forward with the development, the 40-year old aging Sears retail location and auto service on the property will likely be razed. In late April, publicly traded Sears Holding Corp. announced plans to accelerate the closing of 68 Kmart and 10 unprofitable Sears stores across the country, including the Little Rock location landlocked by I-630 and University Avenue.

All of the Sears stores and nearly all of the Kmart stores were closed in late July in the retailer’s near five-year long quest to earn a profit for two straight quarters.

“The decision to close stores is a difficult but necessary step as we take aggressive actions to strengthen our company, fund our transformation and restore Sears Holdings to profitability,” said Edward Lampert, chairman and CEO of Sears Holdings. “We’re focusing on our best members, our best categories and our best stores as we work to accelerate our transformation.”

At the same time, Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores, a spin-off of the once venerable Sears, Roebuck & Company brand, has continued its two-year old plan to modernize and redesign more than a dozen outlet locations across the state.

Last week, the Sears outlet locations in Arkadelphia, Ash Flat, Berryville, Clarksville, Forrest City, Monticello and Wynne reopened with new floor plans, product assortment, redesigned merchandising, new fixtures & signage, and comprehensive employee training. Retail outlets in Cabot, Conway, Heber Springs, Mountain View and West Memphis have also been revamped as part of the Sears spinoff’s effort to refocus largely on appliance sales and discounts.

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