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Little Rock Port continues land speculation

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PORT ACQUISITION: Former Delta Dental call center

The Little Rock Port Authority in a special meeting this morning voted to buy a building in the port area formerly used by Delta Dental as a call center for $2.2 million.

It’s the latest in a string of land purchases by the port, with more planned if hopes for money from a property tax proposal providing an additional pot of port money. Some land deals have not worked out. A site intended for a gun manufacturer sits vacant after the plant fell through.

The Pulaski assessor values the five-acre property, with a 40,000-square-foot building, at $2.48  million. Delta Dental bought it in 2008 for $1.8 million. Delta will carry a note on $2 million of the purchase, a port spokesman said.

Arkansas Business reported last week that the port was eying the property.

A feasibility study in 2020 found that the 40,438-SF building on just under 5 acres could be used for workforce training, community events, job fairs and more. Day said it could be marketed and leased to businesses as overflow office space. He said that when Amazon selected the port for a 825,000-SF fulfillment center, the online retailer needed space for interviews and the former Delta Dental site could’ve provided it.

A Little Rock police substation and office for the U.S. Transportation Security Administration were mentioned as possible long-term tenants for the building.

“I believe it’s a good investment for the port,” Day said.

Bryan Day, port director, said it would cost $100,000 annually to maintain the building, which would be paid with port revenue or leases. Delta Dental moved its call center to Sherwood.

The City Board must sign off on the purchase.

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