Alex Blass, principal of real estate company Cushman & Wakefield/Sage Partners in Rogers, will be able to watch from his eighth-floor office window in Hunt Tower as a nearby 27-acre field is developed into 1 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate.
The land east of South Pinnacle Hills Parkway and south of Walmart Neighborhood Market recently was rezoned from agricultural to allow for a mixed-use development called Pinnacle Village. Over the next decade, the Blass and Alley families look to build a development valued at more than $100 million. One would have to go to larger metropolitan areas such as Dallas or Kansas City, Mo., to find similar developments, said Blass, who is lead developer. The idea is to create a walkable, urban development, allowing one to live, work and play without having to leave, as if it were a downtown.
Pinnacle Village is expected to include two six-story apartment buildings, four six-story office buildings, a six-story, 115-room hotel, 27 townhomes, a food court and restaurants, and a central plaza for events and entertainment. It also will have two pools, two tennis courts, a basketball court and indoor gym. Blass explained a project of this scope has become possible because of the city’s urban zoning to allow for higher density buildings.
“What’s unique about Pinnacle Village is we’re building a project that’s denser and more urban focused than anything that’s been looked at so far,” Blass said. “Especially in the Pinnacle area, but arguably in all of Northwest Arkansas, just as far as how many tall buildings and different high-density uses in a small area. I think that it will actually feel like a new little city within itself on top of everything else that Pinnacle has already up to this point.”
The two apartment buildings should accommodate more than 400 units and include an internal parking structure on each level. Parking also will be available along the perimeter of the development. The four office buildings will have more than 300,000 square feet of office space, and the ground level of the office and apartment buildings will have between 80,000 and 100,000 square feet of retail space. The townhomes will be about 2,000 square feet and two or three bedrooms.
As an anchor, Blass would like to see an upscale movie theater or bowling alley, but the development is not expected to be filled with large, chain retailers. He wants smaller businesses in the retail spaces. For the hotel, he’s talking to two companies, and only one has a flag.
“We’re also having a very strong focus on entertainment. And by entertainment, I don’t mean Dickson Street,” Blass said. “We’re going to have a main street down the middle and a central plaza that we’re looking at designing in a way that is very pedestrian focused.”
Blass compared the concept for the plaza to the downtown square in Bentonville. The plaza and streets would be private and could be closed to allow for events such as farmers markets, spring fest or an event like First Friday.
Blass said Pinnacle Village should be built in three to four phases and completed over 10 years, depending on the economy and how well the first phase is received. Because the rezoning was approved, the next step will be to complete and submit a large-scale development plan to the city. He hopes to receive city approval on the plans by late spring or early summer, with site work commencing soon afterward. After the roads and other infrastructure are installed, construction should start on the buildings by the end of 2019 or early 2020, allowing the first phase to be completed in 2022.
Blass said he’s been working on the project for about two years. In August, a group of limited liability companies purchased the land for the development for $5.8 million. The two largest partners in the group are the Alley family and the Blass family of Little Rock, and the contractor will be Little Rock-based VCC Construction. Sam Alley is chairman and CEO of VCC, and his son, Derek Alley, the managing director of VCC, are project developers.
“We believe in the growth of Northwest Arkansas,” Derek Alley said. “This is our backyard. All the partners are Arkansas-based partners, so we’re excited for the opportunity to invest in our community and bring a development that will be a shining example of what can be done to enhance the community.
“This will be front and center of the place to go in the market for many years to come. That is our goal,” he said. “We’re trying to design and deliver something that’s not a carbon copy of what’s been done previously, but it’s going to stand on its own as a really special place.”
Miller, Boskus, Lack Architects of Fayetteville is the architect, and HFA (Harrison French & Associates) of Bentonville is the engineer.
Roger Boskus, principal for Miller, Boskus, Lack Architects, has worked on the project since February.
“It’s unique in the fact that it’s a lot of square footage per acre,” Boskus said. “There’s about 1 million square feet planned on a 27-acre piece of property.” That’s 37,037 square feet per acre.
The high-density development would be complemented by pedestrian-friendly streets and greenspace, including the central plaza, Boskus said. It would offer space for food trucks and a climate-controlled building for people to eat or relax.
Blass said he’s kept in touch with the residents of two subdivisions to the east: Manors and Highland Knolls. The townhomes, which will be built along the east side of Pinnacle Village, were moved further west into the development and more trees were added along the east border of the project to accommodate the neighbors. Because the development is adjacent to the subdivisions to the east, a lower density zoning was required on that side of the project where the townhomes will be built.
“You can’t make everyone happy at the end of the day, but we want to do everything we can to work with everyone as much as possible,” Blass said.
While the area has yet to have a similar development, Blass said philanthropist Johnelle Hunt is developing Pinnacle Heights, which includes similar features, such as apartments, restaurants and a hotel. The $100 million project would be across Champions Drive from the front gate of Pinnacle County Club and northwest of Pinnacle Village. A trail is expected to connect the two developments.
“There’s such a unique opportunity with what Mrs. Hunt’s done up to this point in time on developing this area to really build something special,” Blass said. “We’re not trying to replace what she’s doing. We’re trying to complement it with something like this. Hopefully, more development like this happens over time.”