Landing at the Conway airport will soon take on a new meaning as Alabama-based Jim Wilson and Associates and the Conway Development Corp. announced a new $90 million upscale regional shopping center, “Central Landing.”
On Thursday (Oct. 10), Will Wilson, CEO of Jim Wilson and Associates, announced the 150-acre project that will take the soon-to-be-decommissioned airport property and redevelop it to include restaurant, retail, medical, office, and multi-family use spaces. Wilson also said that plans could include two hotels and space available for economic development projects being recruited to Conway.
“You’re taking an area of industrial airport and trying to bring it back to life to something that can be viable again,” Wilson said. “We saw the fact that this could be a master plan development, which we like to do. We like to do bigger deals.”
Wilson tells Talk Business that the area needs significant work done and he’ll spend the next year modifying aspects of the master plan and adapting to needs and desires. Most significantly, he thinks with road work and utility infrastructure that Central Landing can tie in with another high-end retail center across Interstate 40, Conway Commons.
“We want it to be the gateway coming into Conway,” Wilson said. “There’s an opportunity here that we can hook up and build some new roads that will go east-west and north-south that will make the whole town flow a little bit better.”
Central Landing is scheduled to open in 2017. The Conway airport will not be decommissioned until next year, and Wilson said his architects and planners will spend the lag time fine-tuning the project before construction can begin.
Jim Wilson & Associates, LLC, based in Montgomery, Ala., is a privately owned real estate company specializing in shopping centers, residential real estate investments, offices, condominiums, hotels and mixed-use developments. The company’s development portfolio includes residential communities and condominium residences, mix-use developments, Class A office buildings and hotel and country club assets.
Wilson is a newcomer to Conway, but he says he has plenty of ties to Arkansas. His group’s work includes plenty of projects with Little Rock-based Dillard’s Department Stores.
But it was the son of an employee – a Conway resident – that brought the airport property to Wilson’s attention.
“I didn’t know anything about Conway. I know a lot about Little Rock. We do a lot of business with Dillard’s there, we’ve built some stores with them and done some shopping centers with them,” Wilson said.
After meeting with city leaders, conducting market studies that came back “very favorably,” and gaining a better understanding of the community’s assets of education, safety and government leadership, Wilson said he was sold.
“You get the sense that Conway is a town in the Southeast that is doing really well and has a lot of growth potential,” he said. “I kind of just saw a diamond in the rough.”
Jim Wilson Associates and the Conway Development Corp. will jointly develop Central Landing. Officials estimate the project will create an additional $2 billion in retail sales and $34 million in additional sales tax collections for the city over a 10-year period.
“For the last several years, Faulkner County has been recognized as one of America’s fastest growing counties for population and job growth. We are already an established, regional product in many ways. Central Landing will give us the setting to offer new amenities, not only to Conway, but central Arkansas.”
“This project is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our community,” Lacy said. “The scale, quality and variety of development Central Landing brings to Conway will truly set us apart.”