In The News

Can’t top Gigi’s Cupcakes

LITTLE ROCK — Oh em gee! We have a Gigi’s Cupcakes location!

Cupcake aficionados in central Arkansas have drooled for the day that we’d have a bakery specializing in cupcakes.

Uh, well another bakery specializing in cupcakes. We already have several (and at the rate they’re opening, they could one day hope to outnumber frozen yogurt outlets).

But can there be such a thing as too many cupcakes? Gee whiz, no! (Now, there might be such a thing as too much icing. More on that to come.)

The Little Rock Gigi’s Cupcakes, open now in the Park Avenue shopping center (the Target center — between Radio Shack and the Carter’s kids clothing store), is part of the country’s largest cupcake chain founded by Gigi Butler in Nashville, Tenn., which has expanded to 23 states. And more stores are planned, including one expected to open within the next month at 12800 Chenal Parkway.

What’s on the menu: cupcakes. More cupcakes. And drinks (coffee, milk, apple juice, soda and bottled water). And a few mini cheesecakes. And still more cupcakes.

Some 30 cupcake flavors appear on the full fall/winter 2012-13 menu, with about a dozen available each day. Cost is $3.25 each, $2.75 each per dozen.

One can have a seat at a few outdoor tables, two indoor tables (dressed with faux pink gerbera daisies) or at a counter lining the front windows. But most people get their treasures to go — in girlie greenbrown-and-pink packages that resemble gift boxes and matching shopping bags.

These are no box-of-cakemix-and-can-of-frosting cupcakes. Baked, iced and blinged-out on-site (Miss Princess cupcake: “white cake with fresh strawberries baked in, topped with a cream cheese frosting, pink sugar crystals and a pink fondant crown,” available on Fridays), these are works of edible sculpture.

They’re also big. And rich. And sweet. Really sweet.

A couple forkfuls (there’s really no eating these frosting-full, top-heavy desserts with your hands) into a Chocolate Covered Strawberry cupcake — featuring a dark chocolate cake, a puffy pink fluff of icing then capped with even more chocolate that didn’t have a lot of strawberry flavor, but certainly had a lot of sugar — I knew I’d have to have some help with this assignment.

To read the full article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Site backers tell tech park board of advantages to view the Verizon Property Presentation presented by Hank Kelley, Bill Pendergist and London Grandison with Flake & Kelley Commercial. to view the Village Shopping Center Property Presentation presented by Hank Kelley, Buckley O’Mell and London Grandison with Flake & Kelley Commercial.

A low construction cost, proximity to the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, an already constructed building and the potential pull of a former U.S. president were among the competing selling points offered Wednesday by representatives of four sites being considered for a planned Little Rock technology park.

The potential influence of former President Bill Clinton to attract companies was part of the pitch by Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School of Public Service, to locate the park on a site near the school and the Clinton Presidential Center.

“There is a big advantage to being in Bill Clinton’s neighborhood,” Rutherford said at a meeting of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority Board.

The board is planning a technology park that backers hope will provide a home to companies willing to partner in developing research resulting from the city’s medical and educational institutions.

In addition to the 10-acre site east of Interstate 30, the other sites under consideration are a 12-story building that was once part of Alltel Corp.’s headquarters, the Village Shopping Center at Asher and University avenues, and a tract of vacant land on John Barrow Road near Interstate 630.

The sites were chosen by the board in October from among 23 proposals, most of them submitted by commercial developers.
Representatives of each of the four sites made 15-minute presentations to the board Wednesday at a meeting at the Jack Stephens Center on the UALR campus.

Afterward, the board voted to spend up to $10,000 on engineering studies of each site. Chairman Mary Good also asked the site representatives to submit information on the potential selling prices for the properties. The board also agreed that it would tour each site.

The site advocated by the Clinton School is owned by World Services for the Blind. It is bounded by East Sixth Street, East Eighth Street, College Street and Collins Street.

The site is currently occupied by a few stores and businesses that lease space on a month-to-month basis, developer Rett Tucker said.

Rutherford said Heifer International, Acxiom Corp. and the Clinton School are among entities in the area that could help attract businesses to a technology park.

The area’s restaurants and hotels as well as the eStem Charter Schools would also be a draw, he said.

“The renaissance area for Little Rock is downtown,” Rutherford said.

Representatives of the Alltel and Barrow Road sites also cited the restaurants and other businesses surrounding their favored locations.

Proponents of the Village Shopping Center site noted that it would be within walking distance of UALR. If it located there, said Hank Kelley, chief executive of Flake & Kelley Commercial, the technology park could eventually acquire a total of about 30 acres for development, which would include the shopping center.

The site is also near 53 acres of wetlands at the former Coleman Dairy, which Kelley said could also be an asset.

Kelley’s firm also pitched the former Alltel building, which includes 212,000 square feet of space that the authority could lease or buy.

The building includes six high-speed elevators, and equipment could also be included in a purchase, he said.

“The finishes in these buildings are second to none,” he said.
Kelley said, however, that any space for chemical laboratories would have to be added to the building.

Good noted that it would likely to be expensive to add such space to a high-rise building. Representatives of Kelley’s firm also said the building’s occupant would have to add a new heating and cooling system at a cost of about $1.3 million.

Kelley said the 14-acre Village Shopping Center property is worth about $4 million, and space in the former Alltel building, which is owned by Verizon Wireless, is worth about $65 per square foot. Space in the building could also be leased for about $19.75 per square foot annually, he said.

Representatives of the other sites did not have price estimates Wednesday.

Pam Brown Courtney, owner of the site on John Barrow Road, said the price for her property would be “something you can afford, I promise you that.”

Proponents of the John Barrow site noted that the authority would not have to demolish any buildings before starting construction on the 37.5-acre tract of vacant land.

They also touted the site’s location near the McMath Library, a planned community center, and medical institutions such as Baptist Health Medical Center and the Arkansas Heart Hospital.
City Director Doris Wright, whose ward includes the site, touted another benefit.

“You’ll have me as your champion, and I can get a lot of things done,” she said.

Downtown Little Rock Cited as No. 5 for Livability

Little Rock, Arkansas (October 31, 2012)-Downtown Little Rock has been selected by an online organization called “Livability” as No. 5 in a new Top 10 Downtowns 2012 list just released.

Downtown Little Rock was noted for its nine distinct neighborhoods, each offering a mix of residential and commercial property, with the most popular being the River Market District, a draw for concerts, sporting events, and landmarks such as the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, along the Arkansas River. It was also noted for the system of streetcars increasing accessibility between Little Rock and North Little Rock and with stops at many downtown attractions.

Citing criteria set forth by Christopher Leinberger, director of the Center for Real Estate and Analysis at George Washington University, the team noted, “We set out to identify downtowns especially poised to offer the best experiences to residents and visitors, show signs of economic growth, and have community leaders with clear plans for continued improvement to these districts. We needed a perspective to help us decide what sets apart the best downtowns from the merely good downtowns.”

Downtown Little Rock Partnership (DLRP) was specifically referenced in the announcement: “A nonprofit group called Downtown Little Rock Partnership leads the charge for revitalization by teaming with city leaders on strategy and special projects, such as renovating buildings and beautifying street corners. The group also brings in special events and seasonal attractions.”

Sharon Priest, executive director of Downtown Little Rock Partnership, said, “We are very pleased to have downtown Little Rock chosen as No. 5 for Livability. These honors for downtown and Little Rock are a result of the hard work of many people. We do especially appreciate our members at the Downtown Little Rock Partnership who volunteer their time to work on events such as the Main Street Food Truck Festival and committees focused on a vibrant downtown Little Rock.”

Downtown Little Rock Partnership is a nonprofit representing approximately 200 member businesses, organizations and individuals in pursuit of a remarkable urban experience for those who work, live, play and invest in downtown Little Rock. Millie Ward is the current president of the Board of Directors.

According to Priest, “DLRP members strive to provide leadership in planning, legislation, transportation, economic development and numerous public and private initiatives that strengthen the overall downtown as well as enhance its image.” DLRP also manages Metrocentre Business Improvement District (BID No. 1) to provide services for a cleaner and safer downtown.

For more information about Downtown Little Rock Partnership call 501.375.0121 or to go online today. For the complete Livability listing about Downtown Little Rock,

Developer plans to enhance arts district

If developer Scott Reed perfects his plan, the arts district in downtown Little Rock will not only be expanding, but citizens will be able to live and businesses thrive in the heart of the district.

Reed’s company – Reed Realty Advisors of Portland, Ore. – recently closed on four buildings through Flake & Kelley Commercial of Little Rock.

The Boyle Building at 501 Main Street is 80,832 square feet. Built in 1909, the building is 80,832 square feet and sits at the intersection of Capitol Avenue and Main Street. It was priced at $1.2 million. The Arkansas Building (and its annex building) at 522 and 524 Main Street is 62,816 square feet. Built in 1910, the building at the intersection of Main and 6th streets was listed at $900,000. The MM Cohn Building at 510 Main Street is 54,600 square feet. Built in 1941, the building was listed at $515,000.

The buildings are contiguous.

Hank Kelley of Flake & Kelley said Reed is a master at planning how the development will serve many capacities, including multi-family rental, office and retail.

“What Scott does is perfect a plan,” Kelley said. “He wants to build on the arts district that is anchored by the Repertory Theater. It’s an amenities package. That’s what makes this so unique.

“I can tell you from my own experience with the Lafayette building and the Rock Street lofts that there’s a big demand for rental. From what I understand, there will be 100-plus family units involved in this.”

Reed is involved in some not-for-profit groups that could be part of the commercial plans.
Kelley said the planned development is a good sign that the commercial market is coming back in Little Rock.

“It’s absolutely a good sign,” Kelley said. “Where people live is the first step in any (commercial) development. It provides conveniences to them.” to read the full article.