VERIZON BUILDING: Possible site of state development?


Gov. Asa Hutchinson
spoke inauguration day of hope for economic development and recent evidence suggests some deals may be in the works.

* SUPER PROJECT: One of the bills filed this week seeks an appropriation of $200 million — yes $200 million — in the fiscal year beginning July 1 for a “super project” as defined by Amendment 82. That amendment expanded state bonding authority to provide huge state welfare payments to private businesses in support of major Arkansas projects.  I’ve received no response to a question about this specific request and I don’t expect one. Industrial recruitment efforts are kept hush-hush until done. The state has talked in the past about a defense project at the industrial park near Camden, but missed out on a facility to build a tactical vehicle.

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* PROBABLY NOT A SUPER PROJECT BUT: The real estate community is buzzing about state interest in purchase of one of the buildings in Riverdale where Verizon has had offices and has a building for sale for $35 million. The story goes that it would become home to some state agencies — perhaps Development Finance and Economic Development — but also be a home to a new private business. I’ve inquired about that project as well, but expect similar non-responsiveness for the time being.

UPDATE: A non-response response from AEDC on the super project appropriation:

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The $200M is in the appropriation in the event any Amendment 82 projects materialize in the next biennium.

AEDC says it has no records related to a building purchase.

Brandi Hinkle, spokesman for AEDC, notes a special session would be required to approve bonding authority should any super project develop.

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UPDATE ON BUILDING: Derrick Rose of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority says the ADFA board approved a resolution in December to purchase the Verizon building for $26 million. The deal is expected to close in February. He said no decisions had been made on occupants, but said he expected it to be used as a state facility. Here’s the resolution ADFA approved.