J.B. Hunt plans new office space for 1,250 employees at Lowell HQ

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 971 views 

J.B. Hunt Transport Services is expected to start construction this summer on a seven-story office tower on its corporate headquarters campus in Lowell.

Details on the construction project, expected to be completed in 2017, are sketchy but the company has released the following: “The building will be approximately 150,000 square feet with capacity to accommodate 1,250 employees.”

The facility will be surrounded by a new walking and running trail that will be connected to the Northwest Arkansas Greenway, according to a fact sheet approved for release to the media by Carrie Johnson, manager of marketing strategy. No other information was approved for release, Johnson said in an email message on Monday (June 8).

There has been no indication if the numbers of employees are new hires or current employees being moved to the new building. That said, Wall Street analysts see ample growth opportunity for J.B. Hunt Transport. A report published Wednesday (June 10) by RBC Capital analyst John Barnes upgraded the rating on J.B. Hunt Transport Services from “Perform” to “Outperform” while also raising the share price target from $92 to $105. 

J.B. Hunt shares (NASDAQ: JBHT) closed Wednesday at $86.18, up $1.33. During the past 52 weeks the share price has ranged from a $93.50 high to a $71 low.

Barnes expects the company to post improving results across all four of the company’s divisions. He said J.B. Hunt is well positioned to see meaningful margin growth in its intermodal division because rates are expected to rise in the intermodal market, the analyst stated.

“We believe the company’s dedicated division is poised to see more robust growth as truck capacity tightens and shippers again become more focused on procuring consistent capacity,” Barnes noted.

PROPOSED PLAN
The Lowell Planning Commission approved the project last month. The proposed business tower in Lowell is separate from a 10-story office building under development in Rogers by Hunt Ventures, a real estate firm owned by J.B. Hunt Transport co-founder Johnelle Hunt. The Rogers building is on Pinnacle Hills Parkway and is claimed by officials to be the tallest in Northwest Arkansas when completed. 

The Lowell project will be one of the tallest along Interstate 49. The Hunt campus is on the east side of the interstate. The new building is planned between the existing building and the interstate. The new building is about half the size of the existing campus which has 300,000 square feet, according to a filing to the Securities Exchange Commission last December. The existing buildings are four-story and five-story, respectively. 

The company’s website states the company employs more than 20,000 people in 400 facilities in the 48 contiguous states. The company is one of the largest transportation logistics companies in North America. It was incorporated in 1961 and became publicly held in 1983.

GOOD FOR LOWELL
Lowell Mayor Eldon Long said the possibility of new jobs coming to the community could boost the city’s housing industry.

He said J.B. Hunt has been a good corporate citizen of Lowell, cooperating with the city in the development of infrastructure and contributing to the construction of the senior activities center. Lowell has seen a huge benefit since locating its corporate headquarters there several years ago, Long said.

The approval carries some contingencies, including with the city staff on a traffic study and any possible drainage concerns. The company also agreed to help pay costs to update Apple Blossom Road near the facility. Long said the city is working on a plan to extend Dixieland Road south to Apple Blossom. The street now ends at Arkansas 264.

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