One of the easiest ways to spot an economic recovery is to watch for new retail signs springing up around your town or city. Gateway Town Center, which includes the soon-to-be-open Outlets of Little Rock, is a leading example in the central Arkansas market.
Throughout the past decade, Little Rock has lacked significant speculative retail development (i.e., construction) without a formal commitment from retailers. But a strong economy and limited vacancies (particularly in west Little Rock) have helped to change the trend recently, and Gateway Town Center is leading the way.
The Outlets of Little Rock promises to be more than another shopping center. It is positioned to become a destination entertainment hotspot for the entire state. The development is already strategically located next to one of the biggest attractions in central Arkansas — Bass Pro Shops — and well-positioned along two major interstates.
As cars begin pulling into the new mall on Oct. 16, further development surrounding the mall will already be in motion. Developers are buying land for ancillary speculative development and users are flooding to the site for their own use such as franchise restaurants and additional retail. We could even see other large destination retailers, such as a larger additional retail center, multi-use retail venue, dinner-and-a-movie theater and more take an interest in this area.
All of this is an indication that our market is vibrant, and vacant space is low enough to support additional development. Developers are confident that their strategically placed speculative projects will pull in the retailers and restaurants that we see in other markets around the region. We are seeing it all across central Arkansas, including downtown Little Rock, far west Little Rock, Midtown, Conway and the Saline County area.
It’s a signal that times are good — and, that our entertainment options are getting better and better.