Named for a stone outcropping in the Arkansas River that served as a navigational aid during the 18th and early 19th centuries, Little Rock was only a small town when the territory of Arkansas formed in 1819. Owing to its central location along the river, however, in 1821 it became the territory’s capital—and remained the capital when Arkansas entered the union as the 25th state in 1839. (The city was incorporated in 1831.)
Today there are big doings in Little Rock. “We have a resurgent urban core that has experienced over a $1 billion investment in the past 10 years, including an electric streetcar system, presidential library, 18,000-seat arena, 7,000-seat baseball stadium, multiple condominium towers, museums, central library, corporate headquarters, and more,” says Wesley Robert Walls, president of local architecture firm The Wilcox Group.
The result: Little Rock can boast two recent AIA Institute Honor Award recipients, both of which are certified LEED. 2008 winner Heifer International headquarters by local firm Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects is certified LEED Platinum. 2006 winner William J. Clinton Presidential Center by New York City–based Polshek Partnership Architects is certified LEED Silver.
The building boom continues as attention turns to developing the suburbs and revitalizing inner-city neighborhoods. “Little Rock has one of the top development markets in the nation—[it] has doubled in the past 30 years,” says Fletcher Hanson III, managing partner at hometown commercial real estate brokerage Grubb & Ellis | Solomon Partners. “Projections indicate it will double again during the next 20 years.”
Current population: 184,422; 2007 job growth: 1.6 percent.
Average rates, Class A space: $18.50/s.f., suburbs; $15.50/s.f., downtown.
Year-to-date average home sale price in Pulaski County, November 2007: $175,724.
- Stable government and healthcare sectors
- Arkansas financial hub
- Low cost of living
- Declining inner-city areas
- Slow home sales/job growth
“There will be continued development in the urban core and riverfront areas,” says David Porter, a principal at local firm Polk Stanley Rowland Curzon Porter Architects. “That planned growth and sprawl continue to put pressure on infrastructure, but challenges are being met with good cooperation between private and public entities and interests.”