Northern Tool + Equipment proposed for Phase II of Rogers’ Pleasant Crossing development

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 692 views 

Rogers could soon be the site of the state’s second Northern Tool + Equipment store.

A large-scale development plan has been filed with the city to build a 20,000-square-foot store along northbound Interstate 49 in the Pleasant Crossing commercial development. The location proposed is a 3.37-acre lot south of Hank’s Fine Furniture at 4308 S. Pleasant Crossing Blvd.

The developer is Whisinvest Realty, the company that markets, sells and develops property for the landowner, Little Rock businessman Joe Whisenhunt.

It is unclear whether the building will be leased or the parcel sold to the end-user, but the tenant will ultimately be Northern Tool, a Minnesota-based retailer of tools and equipment. The company sells products through direct mail, online and more than 100 retail locations in 20 states. Along with a wide range of hand, power and air tools, Northern Tool carries a variety of products, including generators, pressure washers, air compressors, hydraulics, small engines, trailers, water pumps, tractors, welding equipment and more. It operates a store along Interstate 30 in Little Rock.

Clay Mote works for Dallas-based Venture Commercial Real Estate brokerage firm and handles all Northern Tool leases in the U.S. Whisinvest Realty is represented in Northwest Arkansas by Burke Larkin.

The project is just now beginning to make its way through the development pipeline and has not yet been placed on an agenda for the planning commission.

There is added significance to the Northern Tool project. It would be the first new construction in Phase II of the Pleasant Crossing area for Whisinvest Realty, which owns all of the undeveloped pastureland along northbound I-49 south of Hank’s and north of Oakwood Avenue in Lowell.

It’s been a long time coming. In March 2012, in one of the decade’s more significant real estate deals, Whisenhunt, a Little Rock developer who was a key player in the growth and commercial development of west Little Rock, paid $19 million — in cash — for 375 acres of undeveloped, bank-owned land along the I-49 corridor in Rogers and Lowell.

The acreage encompassed land in the Pleasant Crossing, Pinnacle Hills and The Grove developments, land allocated for projects that once belonged to groups that included Northwest Arkansas developers Gary Brandon, Charles Reaves, Bill Schwyhart and Robert Thornton.

To give some perspective on the value of the land, the 192 acres acquired by Whisenhunt in Pleasant Crossing was forfeited in lieu of foreclosure in 2010 by Reaves, who owed $30.5 million on the property.

Brandon lost 119 acres in The Grove, at South Dixieland and Pleasant Grove roads, through foreclosure in 2011 on a judgment of nearly $22 million. And Schwyhart lost 64 acres in Pinnacle Hills through a 2010 foreclosure on a judgment of $28.7 million.

Whisinvest Realty still controls the majority of the land but has sold off some of the acreage it acquired to other entities. Its most substantial building activity on any of its holdings is the 54-acre The District at Pinnacle Hills, a multi-use development in Pinnacle Hills at the southwest corner of the intersection of southbound I-49 and Pauline Whitaker Parkway.

The company still controls roughly 185 acres in the Pleasant Crossing area.

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