LR Port Authority set to acquire nearly 1,000 acres of new land

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,168 views 

The Little Rock Port Authority board of directors approved three resolutions Wednesday (July 21) that could add nearly 1,000 acres to the port’s land mass.

The board passed a resolution to enter into a contract with Southport Properties, LLC and members of the Thomas family and trust to purchase roughly 640 acres of land south of the port’s current footprint.

The 640-acre tract will undergo due diligence for environmental surveys, archeological scrutiny and title research over the next 90 days. The purchase price for the property is roughly $8.2 million.

A smaller two-acre tract was in the middle of the 640 acres and owned by a different seller. It sold to the port for $225,000.

Bryan Day, executive director of the Little Rock Port Authority, tells Talk Business & Politics about 80% of the property is marketable to potential business prospects.

In another resolution, the port board accepted a land donation of approximately 337 acres from W.B. Isgrig and Sons, LLC. Most of the acreage is submerged or could be considered wetlands. Day said the property would give the Little Rock Port Authority shoreline for future barge fleeting and possible wetlands conservation.

In another port board move, 15 acres of property in the port’s boundaries was sold to Amazon for potential growth needs. The sale was for roughly $600,000.

Day said since his arrival in 2014, he’s been on a land buying spree – roughly 2,000 new acres – in order to keep the port viable for economic development prospects.

“Land is finite, as you know. Once it’s gone, it’s gone,” he said. “We’ll continue to look to buy land, lease land, or put it under contract.”

He expects most of the future land acquisition activity to be on the southern border of the port’s boundary. A goal of creating a 1,500-acre super site is a primary objective and the transactions Wednesday are a step towards that goal.

“We’re continuing to look. We’re always talking to owners,” Day said.

An ongoing effort to watch includes moving a VOR Cone from the existing port land and moving it to 110 acres of land near the Galloway exit on I-40. In simple terms, the VOR Cone is the Federal Aviation Administration signal box for aircraft to receive communications on conditions in Little Rock.

It has taken an act of Congress, literally, to move the structure built in 1946 from the Little Rock Port property to the Galloway exit. Once that move is completed, it will provide 55 more acres to the port’s super site location.