Colliers Arkansas partners discuss soccer site selection, Whole Foods update in Pinnacle Hills

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 3,022 views 

Northwest Arkansas’ commercial real estate market is constantly evolving, but the importance of location never goes out of style.

For example, a Tampa, Fla.-based professional soccer organization is partnering with a local group to bring professional soccer to the state. The United Soccer League (USL) and USL Arkansas announced on July 12 plans to establish men’s and women’s soccer teams and build a 5,000-seat stadium. The stakeholders identified a location in Rogers’ Pinnacle Hills area east of Interstate 49 as the ideal location.

The 11.5-acre site is at the southwest corner of Lazy L Street and Bellview Road, north of Pinnacle Hills Promenade, with other retail shops, apartments and restaurant options nearby.

Steve Lane is the managing director for the Northwest Arkansas office of commercial real estate firm Colliers Arkansas in Rogers. He’s worked in the market for three decades, so he’s had a front-row seat to the constant evolution.

Lane worked with USL backers for the past few years to help identify the best possible location for a stadium and soccer franchise.

“It’s important to remember that you’re not just building a stadium,” Lane said in a recent interview. “You’re building a team. The location matters from that standpoint. The soccer experience is about two hours. You want places for people to eat, drink, shop and hang out before and after. And you want a location in an area with proper infrastructure and accessible to the region.

“We felt like this area provided all of those things.”

Lane said the site selection process involved several NWA locations. Some had a larger footprint to accommodate a new stadium, practice facilities and other structures. He credited California businessman Warren Smith for pushing the idea of building a stadium near amenities.

Smith is a USL Arkansas co-founder with Chris Martinovic. Among multiple sports endeavors, Smith helped establish the San Diego Loyal SC and will play an instrumental role in founding and developing the Northwest Arkansas club.

“If you look at other stadiums, not just soccer, but Ballpark Village in St. Louis and [Globe Life Park] in Arlington [Texas]. Forward Madison FC [in Wisconsin] has done an infill and urban area project with apartments and retail,” Lane said. “I think that is the future. You want to go where things exist. You can complement what is there and be a catalyst for going into the future for more development.”

USL Arkansas has the land under contract to buy from Rogers philanthropist Johnelle Hunt, chairman and owner of Hunt Ventures. The stadium is expected to open in 2026.

Less than a mile from the USL site, another significant real estate project is gathering steam in Pinnacle Hills.

Georgia-based developer SJC Ventures has plans for an 80,498-square-foot mixed-use center called Pinnacle Springs. The 12-acre site is at the northwest corner of New Hope Road and South Promenade Boulevard. Whole Foods Market is the anchor tenant.

Colliers Arkansas is SJC Ventures’ development and leasing partner for the project, which includes a 350-unit apartment complex built on an undeveloped lot (8.6 acres) adjacent to Home Depot.

Hunt Ventures is the landowner, and the property is under contract to be sold to the developer. Alan Cole, a principal at Colliers Arkansas in Rogers, said that the deal is scheduled to close this fall.

“Hopefully, we will have some [initial] site work going by the end of the year,” Cole said. “There’s a significant amount of site work ahead with the topography to level down that hill. We’re projecting mid- to late-2025 for delivery for the apartments and shops and a grand opening soon after.”

Neither firm has disclosed site development details for the more complex shopping center/retail component. Two office buildings (one vacant) built in 2014 and totaling about 29,000 square feet now occupy that hillside site. The buildings will be razed, and the area leveled.

“It’s kind of a wild deal for this market,” Cole said. “For the first time, you’ll see buildings that still have significant life left but maybe aren’t the highest and best use for a property.”

One of the buildings is tenant-owned Core Architects. Dusty Graham, the firm’s president, said the office would relocate within Pinnacle Hills and lease from Hunt Ventures, possibly purchasing land from Hunt Ventures to build a new building.

SJC Ventures has revealed two restaurant tenants for Pinnacle Springs —Tupelo Honey Southern Kitchen & Bar and Firebirds Wood Fired Grill.