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2012 Economic News


The Chancellor Is Having Its Grand Opening 

The Chancellor is just weeks away from its grand opening on Thursday, September 13th.  The hotel first opened in 1981 and is owned by Southwind Hospitality Holdings LLC, a group led by Ike Thrash from Mississippi and Sam Alley of Little Rock.  The group bought it for $3.8 million and started to refurbished the property.  The Chancellor will now have 191 rooms and 16 luxury suites.  With 207 rooms, the hotel is the second largest property in the area, behind only the 400-room Embassy Suites NWA in Rogers.  There will be about 100 full time employees.  The hotel will have a restaurant and bar/lounge called Union and Scott Bowman, owner of Theo's in Fayetteville and Rogers, is the proprietor.  The Union may sit up to 120 guests.  The Event Group of Fayetteville will head the hotel's catering efforts.

Metro Collision Center Sold 

A 17,600 SF industrial property located at 1895 MLK Blvd. was sold for $1.3 million.  CB Realty Corp, led by E Fletcher Lord Jr. of Little Rock was the buyer while Tracy Hoskins, managing member of Metro Collision Center was the seller.  The one-story building was built in 1990 and sits on 1.34 acres.  Lord is the CEO of Replacement Parts Inc. of Little Rock.  The company is once of the largest privately held aftermarket auto parts operations in the country with 160 stores in six states.  The company also owns a 6,000 SF auto parts store, known as The Parts Store, at 1513 MLK Blvd.  It will move to the new location after remodeling is completed.  The new store will operate under the Bumper to Bumper flag. 

Superior Industries Plans Factory Improvement 

Superior Industries plans to spend up to $30 million on capital improvements this year, with a large portion going into local plants.  The Van Nuys, California-based company has two US operations which are located in Fayetteville and Rogers, Arkansas.  The automotive aluminum-wheel manufacturer has three additional factories in Mexico and they make wheels primarily for Chrysler, Ford, Toyota and General Motors.  Improvements will primarily be in upgrading equipment and streamlining some operations.  Employment at the US plants is steady at almost 1,500. 

Mattress Firm Occupies Former Circuit City 

Mattress Firm opened a store at 744 E Joyce Blvd in the former Circuit City building.  The 20,716 SF building is home to the mattress company's fourth Arkansas store with two in Little Rock and one in Bryant.  Mattress Firm has more than 700 stores in 23 states.  Mattress Firm stores feature more than 55 different models of mattresses from manufacturers such as Sealy, Simmons, and Tempur-Pedic.  An investment group from Atlanta purchased the building last June.

Hotel Changed Hands 

Nitesh Gandhi, president of Manav Investor of NW Arkansas Inc. is now the new owner of an 83-room hotel in Fayetteville.  Gandhi paid $1.4 million for the Fayetteville Super 8 at 1075 S Shiloh Dr.  The seller was Supertel LP of Virginia, formerly Humphrey Hospitality LP.  The 1.44 acre development and building, constructed in 1993, appraised for $1.57 million in 2011.

Block Avenue Buy

Sam Mathias, through his Mathias Properties Inc., recently bought a 2,705 SF office building in downtown Fayetteville.  Mathias paid $425,000 to Woodland Enterprises LLC for the building at 115 N Block Ave.  The building is a one-story building built in 1970.  It was last appraised in 2010 for $312,700.

US News & World Report Ranks Washington Regional Medical Center Among the Nation's Top Regional Hospitals 

The US News and World Report recently recognized Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville as among the nation's best regional hospitals.  Two hundred and forty seven hospitals were selected by the magazine's editors for excellence in providing care to communities that are outside major metropolitan areas.  According to the report, hospitals like Washington Regional Medical Center offers a high level of medical care to communities that otherwise might have limited options, and that they are fully capable of providing first-rate care.  US News & World Report annually evaluates nearly 5,000 hospitals in 16 differrent medical specialties, using factors such as death rates, patient safety, procedure volume and other objective data.  It also considers physicians' responses to a national survey where they are asked to name hospitals they consider best in their specialty for the toughest cases.  In addition to this recognition, Washington Regional Medical Center was also named one of the nation's most-connected hospitals for achieving an advanced level of electronic medical record adoption.  Washington Regional is the only community-owned, locally governed, not-for-profit hospital in the area.

New Bar Coming To Dickson Street 

The former Flying Possum site on Dickson Street will soon open as a Razorbacks-themed bar later this year.  Sarah Varga, owner of Sideways and Ryleigh's on Dickson Street, and her husband, Christopher, signed a lease with the building's owner, the Pearson Family Trust, earlier this year.  The couple plans to have the bar open for business this summer after renovation is completed.  Sarah and her husband will overhaul the entire 1,647 SF building at 526 W Dickson. 
Bruce Walker, known for his patented leather guitar straps and laid-back attitude, ran Flying Possum for 35 years before dying in a fire that heavily damaged the building on March 7, 2011.

cycleWood Solutions Selected as Finalist

Cyclewood Solutions recently was selected as one of four finalists for the Association of University Technology Managers 2012 Venture Forum Business Plan Competition.  The company now will compete March 16th in Anaheim, CA.  A startup company, it offers a sustainable alternative to the single-use plastic bag.  Its product is called a XyloBag and it is biodegradable.  XyloBags are made from organic material that breaks down into humus in 150 days.  According to the company,  these bags can be made for as little as .15 cents each compared to conventional plastic bags that cost about 1.2 cents each.  cycleWood Solution founders are Nhiem Cao, Kevin Oden, Priscilla Silva and Jack Avery.  In addition to being a finalist for this competition, the company also was the south central region winner for the CleanTech Open in Austin, TX.  The CleanTech Open is a competition for clean technology startup companies that address energy, environmental and economic challenges.

Startup Company Wins Plan Award 

A team of University of Arkansas students won the top prize at a Canada's premier graduate student business plan competition.  The company created a plan that improves retention and success rate of adults preparing for the General Education Development test.  The Learning DifferentiatED team was led by president and chief executive officer, Barry James, Brandon Hill, Senthil Raman, Brandon Wright, Murali Natarajah and Chris Cambridge.  Barry James is a doctoral candidate in the microelectronics-photonics program.  The company took the first place at the IBK Capital-Ivey Business Plan Competition.  The University of Arkansas was one of 50 graduate schools in the US and Canada that took part in the competition.  Finalists were invited to make their presentations at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.  The university team won $20,000 for its first place finish and an automatic berth in the Venture Labs Investment Competition at the University of Texas where the team will compete for more than $100,000 in cash and prizes. 

Fayetteville's Mail Processing Center to Stay 

The US Postal Services announced it will keep Fayetteville's mail processing center open and move some postal operations from Fort Smith and Harrison to this center.  The move could possibly expand the number of postal jobs at the Fayetteville center.  According to an agency study, six positions from the Harrison center and 35 positions from the Fort Smith facility will move to Fayetteville.  The Fayetteville center in December last year was targeted to close and consolidate with a Little Rock facility. 

UA To Buy Buildings

The University of Arkansas will spend $6 million to purchase two buildings in north Fayetteville that would provide space for employees who either have been displaced by campus construction or whose jobs do not have to be on campus.  The property is located at 1001 and 1083 E. Sain St. and consists of 9.34 acres.  The property was formally owned by AW Realty, a subsidiary of Southwestern Energy, a Houston-based oil and natural gas producer.  The office complex and its acreage is 4.5 miles north of the UA campus.  The two buildings together have a total of 58,693 SF.

3 Monkeys Moving Back To Fayetteville

3 Monkeys Children's Boutique, a retailer, is moving back to Fayetteville from Rogers after three years.  Owner Amanda Hunt recently bought the former El Chico at 3854 Front St. in Fayetteville fir $510,000.  The building has a 6,000 SF space and the owner hopes to have the store open in February.  The retailer has a loyal client base in both counties but ultimately favored the Fayetteville location.  

UA Epley Center for Health Professions Opens 

The $10.84 million Epley Center for Health Professions opened earlier this month on the northwest corner of the UA Fayetteville campus.  The Epley Center houses the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing and the communication disorders program, which operates the UA Speech and Hearing Clinic.  The 19,700 SF former student health center building was renovated and another 24,300 SF of new space was added on.  The building is named for Lewis Epley, a longtime donor to the university and a former UA System trustee, and his wife, Donna.  The Center has two classrooms that each seat 50, a 60-seat computer lab, two student lounges, a faculty lounge, break area, and large meeting rooms.  The school has 240 students enrolled this fall.  Another 654 students identified themselves as pre-nursing students.

Company To Lease Airport Space 

Darryl Riddell, a south-east Arkansas businessman, is leasing the largest hangar in Fayetteville Executive Airport.  The roughly 17,000 SF building is currently vacant. Riddell who owns South Delta Aviation in Helena-West Helena plans to move the bulk of his aircraft sales operation to Fayetteville to be closer to his two grown children.  His company buys, repairs, and sells aircraft.  He would likely hire 2-3 employees and may expand his business in Fayetteville.  The lease will be $3,000 per month for two years and is effective June 1.  The Airport still has one large hangar and four smaller T-Hangars available for lease.

Super 8 Changes Hands 

Manav Investors of Northwest Arkansas recently bought Super 8 in Fayetteville.  Kalpesh Gandhi bought the motel from Supertel Hospitality.  Mumford Company of Newport News, VA, brokered the sale.  The motel has 83 rooms and is at the intersection of I-540 and US 62.  Gandhi owns several hotels throughout Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Local bank financing was used to facilitate the transaction.  Gandhi will retain the Super 8 franchise after cosmetic renovations.


U of A Trustees Approve New UA Buildings

The U of A board of trustees recently approved several academic and athletic facilities for the U of A at Fayetteville.

  • A general purpose classroom and laboratory building which cost between $18 and $25 million will be funded largely through a $1.25 million annual transfer from the U of A athletics program.
  • Conversion of the Old Field House into a 650-700 seat performing arts center named for Jim and Joyce Faulkner, a Little Rock alumni couple who contributed $6 million to the project. This estimated $17.5 million project will be financed through U of A reserves, additional provate gifts and student facilities fees.
  • Three athletics projects which will be funded by gifts and sports revenues include a $20-25 million, 70,000-85,000 SF basketball practice facility which will include separate men's and women's gyms; an $18-23 million, 47,000-58,000 SF academic and dining facility for student athletics taht will include tutorial rooms, group study rooms, a computer lab and math, learning labs, a 500-seat auditorium, a dining hall for athletes, a full service kitchen and staff offices; and a $7.75-9.625 million, 40,000-45,000 SF baseball and track indoor training facility to be attached to the existing Randal Tyson Track Center.

Academy Sports Opens in Fayetteville

Academy Sports & Outdoors officially open for business in Fayetteville December 7th. The Fayetteville store is 71,000 SF and is at 3864 N Steele Blvd, just south of the Malco Razorback Theater at Joyce and Steele Boulevards. The store employs approximately 150 people. The store has an archery lane and a digital golf simulator and provides services such as assembly and delivery, hunting and fishing licenses, scope mounting, bore sighting, line winding/spooling, propane exchange and racket stringing. Academy Sports & Outdoors is based in Katy, Texas, and has 154 stores in 13 states. It has 6 stores including Fayetteville's in Arkansas.