Chad Young, an architect with Wittenberg Deloney and Davidson, presented the firm’s preliminary drawings for the first phase of the Little Rock Tech Park construction: renovation of 42,000 square feet in buildings at 415 and 417 Main St. The presentation included a timeline that should a construction start date of March 8.
Richard Mays, owner of 415 Main St., is still studying the tech park board’s offer of $1.03 million for his property, but price is not the issue, board member Dickson Flake said tonight. He expects Mays to sign off on the sale by Monday of next week.
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Young’s drawings show a two-story entry to the conjoined buildings at 417, with open working space and a coffee shop on the first floor to create “buzz” about what is going on in the building. The park will lease to startups at below market rates, entrepreneurs and established businesses for “cross-pollination” of ideas. Mays’ building will have a meeting space behind a large glass-front wall, and upper floors of both buildings, which will be connected by doors on every floor, will have a mix of co-working spaces, day lease areas, conference rooms and private offices. The design allows for flexibility, with 46 private offices and 45 co-working spaces included in the preliminary drawings, along with 10 meeting spaces, a day use and event center, a formal meeting room and coffee shop.
Wittenberg collaborated on the design with Gaudreau Architects/Planners of Baltimore, Md.; the firms were selected in May by the board to do the architectural planning for phase 1 of part construction. The Wittenberg firm did the renovation of the Exchange Building at 421 Main St., which the park is also buying, from Stephens. (The building is leased to the Department of Higher Education, and will those leases will provide revenue for the park.) Gaudreau has a large portfolio of designs for medical research and development facilities.
Board member Kevin Zaffaroni called the design “magnificent,” and expressed a desire to see an outdoor reception area on the roof of the Mays building. Young said that had been considered but that because of cost left out of the design. However, it could be added back in later, he said.
WD&D’s timeline said pricing of the project will be firm by Feb. 23.
In other business, the park decided to reissue a request for qualifications for an auditing firm. Only two firms, Bell & Co, and Craft, Veach and Co., both of North Little Rock, submitted proposals. The park also has redesigned its website and now dubs itself a “21st century factory of ideas.”