Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Housing Slump Slows US Economy, but NW Arkansas Still Strong

According to the Commerce Department, the U.S. gross domestic product (the sum of the value of all goods and services produced) grew at only 1.6% in the third quarter of this year, down from 2.6% in the second quarter and a phenomenal 5.6% in the first quarter. One of the key factors in the sluggish growth was a major slowdown in the national housing market (in both construction and sales).

In Northwest Arkansas, there is an adjustment occurring in the housing market as well. But some of the other economic indicators (which are weak nationally) are positive here, according to Jeff Collins, Director of the Center for Economic and Business Research at the University of Arkansas’ Sam Walton School of Business.

In a keynote address at the Bentonville Development Conference, held Friday (October 27) for builders, developers, and others, Collins outlined several factors which still make NW Arkansas a good place to live and do business and which bode well for a continuing strong economy here.

First, although there is an oversupply of homes available, particularly in Benton County, there are still approximately 1200 people per month moving to NW Arkansas. This will help in the absorption of current inventory. The current buyer’s market and a leveling of home prices, as well as continuing low interest rates, make this a good time to purchase a home.

Second, job creation in the area continues at over 600 jobs created each month. He noted that from 1996 to 2006, 49% of all new jobs in Arkansas were created in NW Arkansas. People who move to NW Arkansas (except for retirees), do so for employment reasons.

Collins did note a couple of warning signals, however, and stressed the need for creating high wage, high skill jobs. In the past these jobs were in manufacturing, but those are disappearing and being replaced with service sector positions. Service sector employment does not necessarily mean low wage positions but also can include professionals such as doctors, lawyers and others. The key to creating such high wage, high skill jobs is growth in education which will result in knowledge-based employment and higher-wage positions. At present, although NW Arkansas is one of the most affluent areas in the state, per capita personal income (PCPI) is only 80% of the national average. The rest of Arkansas is “poorer”.

Another challenge for the area is to manage the infrastructure required for the continuing growth. The trend in all of Arkansas is towards increasing urbanization in Little Rock and NW Arkansas, while other areas are actually losing population. But public resources are lagging, and must be brought up to speed.

All in all though, Collins seemed optimistic about the area’s ability to weather these challenges and about the current positive outlook for economic activity in NW Arkansas.

For more information about the Commerce Department report:


Bentonville's New City Website is a Winner!

Bentonville is to be commended on their newly designed website. User friendly, it is a wonderful resource for builders, developers and real estate agents in the area, as well as for the general public. It has lots of “goodies” and could serve as an example for other towns in NW Arkansas.

In their GIS (Geographical Information Sytem), there are interactive maps for all uses, including a link to Benton County parcel and lot information as well as FEMA flood zones (present and proposed), zoning and land use information, traffic counts on major streets, and the master street plan. For builders and developers, the utility maps show water lines, sewer lines, storm drainage, and fire hydrants. There are also school district, cemetery, street construction, and census maps. One must download a plug-in to use these features, but once done, the information is all there.

The eGov-Online section has 3 sections: one for paying utilities on line and checking your utility usage, the second for builders who want to apply for a building permit or check the status of a current permit, and the third for developers and others who have applied or want to apply to the planning commission for development projects, rezoning, variances, or conditional use permits. All of the forms are there and downloadable, along with instructions, calendars, and other information needed to guide users through the process.

The site also has general information for residents of Bentonville on such topics as recycling, the compost facility, city government, tax information and the like. There are also links to other sites such as Ozark Regional Transit, Bella Vista Village, and the new Crystal Bridges art museum.

According to Bentonville officials, the new site was developed with users in mind. Many of the phone calls currently received by city officials and employees are from residents with questions that can now be answered 24/7 by information on the website.

Good job, Bentonville!

The website address of Bentonville’s new website is:


Baby Boomers Will Continue to Dominate the Housing Market for Many Years

It is probably no surprise that the housing needs of baby boomers are still a hot topic of conversation. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) gives a great deal of thought to this subject and performs studies and surveys to help forecast future needs.

The largest population group in U.S. history, the 78 million baby boomers are just now starting to reach early retirement age. Boomers have tremendous purchasing power. Most live in two-income households, with a median income in 2005 of $64,700. That is 31% higher than the median for all households. This generation makes up 37.5% of U.S. households, but receives nearly 50% of all aggregate household income, which helps to explain why 80% of boomers are homeowners.

One surprising fact did surface in the most recent comprehensive NAR survey: even with the statistics clearly showing financial resources greater than any generation before them, most survey respondents were unsure of their financial future. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they are not financially prepared for retirement and many even expressed anxiety about their ability to retire.

The retirement needs and wants of the boomer generation are as varied as the people themselves. Boomers are sometimes referred to as the “sandwich generation.” Many boomers married later in life than previous generations and therefore may still have children living at home. At the same time, it’s not unusual to find boomers with aging parents to care for.

One cannot simply assume baby boomers will address their retirement years in a pattern similar to older generations. NAR’s study surveyed nearly 2,000 baby boomers from all over the country with some likely results interspersed with a few that may not have been expected:

1. With life expectancy steadily increasing and retirement age for full Social Security benefits gradually increasing to age 67, many boomers are expected to work 5-10 years past age 65. Approximately 27% said they have no intention of ever retiring. Taking this into consideration, it appears they won’t be as interested in downsizing as the generations before them. Indeed, with today’s focus on technology, many people may prefer to have a home office or even two home offices.

2. When asked where they want to retire, 42% said in the South, 32% in the West, 15% in the Midwest and 12% in the Northeast. Consequently the Sunbelt continues to be a desirable destination for retirees.

3. Boomers have traditionally been active in the second home market, owning some 57% of all vacation homes. Forty percent currently plan to convert their vacation home into a primary residence in retirement.

4. The study also showed that 58% of rental properties are owned by baby boomers.

5. Ten percent of boomers indicated they plan to buy some form of real estate within the next year – many are considering a new primary residence, but the rest are thinking about land, second homes or commercial property.

6. Half of boomers who live in an urban area would like to retire in a small town or rural area, primarily because they believe doing so would result in a lower cost of living.

7. Other relocation considerations included being near family, availability of quality health care, and a better climate. Many also cited a desire to live near a body of water.

8. At the same time, more than a third of all baby boomers want to retire in an urban or suburban setting, motivated by quality health care and cultural activities.

9. When asked, half of baby boomers said they would consider living in an age-restricted community.

10. Women head up 20% of households. Their needs are usually different than traditional couples. Indeed, women frequently cited safety as their primary concern.

11. NAR President Thomas M. Stevens, said the survey shows most boomers want professional services when they buy real estate. Not only do they expect professional service and guidance from real estate agents, they place great value on those services. Mr. Stevens also stated “When buying a home, they want agents to represent their interests in the complex transaction process, and when selling they want help to establish the right asking price. Regardless of whether they’re buying or selling, boomers want agents to explain all of the complicated contracts, forms and agreements, to manage the closing process from start to finish, and to negotiate on their behalf.”

There is no doubt in my mind that baby boomers will have significant impact on all aspects of the real estate market for the next twenty years. This is the first time the U.S. has experienced a huge generation of affluent people nearing retirement age. Whether it’s a smaller home near their children and grandchildren or a place in the sun, boomers will be the driving force moving the market.

I stand ready to offer my professional assistance to anyone interested in buying or selling real estate in Northwest Arkansas. As a baby boomer myself, with similar attitudes found by the NAR survey, I can identify strongly with anyone looking for retirement property or a second home. Please call me at 479-966-0435 if you have any questions on this article or any other aspect of home ownership.

For more information:


To read a previous article on the effect of baby boomers on the second home market, scroll down to the bottom of my blog and click Archives for June. The article is titled “Baby Boomers Dominate 2nd Home Market” and is dated June 14, 2006.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Rogers Opens Adult Wellness Center

Congratulations to the City of Rogers on opening the brand new Adult Wellness Center. As of October 2, 2006, anyone over the age of 50 will be able to join for a fee of only $25.00 a year. Residency in the city is not a requirement.

The 55,000 square foot facility is located at 201 W. Persimmon. It boasts two swimming pools, workout room with cardiovascular machines, full-size basketball court, an aerobics suite, 40-table card room, library, and a full assortment of activities. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The center will focus on helping senior citizens maintain functional strength and independence. Exercises can be tailored to meet special needs, such as people with hip and knee replacements.

It is a marvelous facility. Stop in for a visit.

For more information:



More Shopping Opportunities in NW Arkansas

Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has finally come to Bentonville. It seems odd that it took so many years for Wal-Mart to open its own wholesale membership club in the city it calls home, but at last, it has happened.

The store is huge, the inventory is huge, and the crowds on opening day were huge.

The big box look has been updated a bit. The building boasts more than 140,000 square feet under roof with 54 skylights, a coffee bar and a large white pipe at the entrance that transports aromas from the store's bakery directly to the noses of incoming customers.

The only other Sam’s Club in NW Arkansas is located in Springdale. Plans call for that store to close when a new Sam’s is opened in Fayetteville. The new store has been delayed for several months while the courts settle opposition brought by local liquor stores over the sale of liquor at that site. Arkansas liquor laws are complicated so I won’t bore you with all the wrangling that has been going on. Suffice it to say the Fayetteville Sam’s Club is probably a year away.

Pinnacle Hills Promenade, the newest destination for upscale shopping, is now open at I-540 and Perry Road in Rogers. Everything (almost everything) you always wanted can be found there. The Promenade calls itself a “lifestyle.”

Anchors are JCPenney and Arkansas’ own Dillard’s. Malco Theaters will feature an updated look and 12 screens for your viewing enjoyment. There are too many specialty shops to list here in addition to food of all types. Some stores, such as Barnes & Noble, aren’t open yet but will be soon.

The open-air mall features almost 1 million square feet of retail and office space along with beautiful architecture, fountains and verdant landscaping.

Naturally, something of this magnitude creates a need for more infrastructure. New intersections have already been created and construction is underway in I-540 for new on- and off-ramps. When complete, they will replace the Perry Road overpass and the new road will be named “Promenade.” Time will tell what else has to be done as other businesses are lured to the area.

The City of Rogers will receive millions of dollars in sales tax revenue when everything is built out and operating.

But let’s not forget Northwest Arkansas Mall in Fayetteville. It has been open for several years and has been a mainstay for the entire area, including parts of Missouri and Oklahoma. It not only has JCPenney and Dillard’s but also a large Sears. All together some 100 stores are there – all heated and air-conditioned indoors.

NW Arkansas Mall is conveniently located on Hwy. 71B, where north Fayetteville and south Springdale meet.

Most likely NW Arkansas Mall will lose a bit of business for the first couple of months after the Promenade opens. That always happens because people just like to see what’s new. But I think there is enough growth to support both malls. I also think when it’s 96 degrees (F.) in August or a snowy 20 dgrees (F.) in February, many people will prefer indoor shopping.

For more information:





More Options for NW Arkansas Sports Fans

The City of Bentonville had big plans for a new sports arena. It recently outlined plans for City West, a 90-acre mixed-use development that city leaders hoped would be developed in the western section of the city.

It sounded great – in addition to a 9,000-seat sports and entertainment arena, the complex would also have had a bowling alley, a multi-screen movie complex, and a movie and sound studio. Hotels, office, retail and residential spaces would have completed the complex when it was built out.

Everything changed October 19th when the Rogers City Council announced the sports arena would be built in their city near I-540 and Pleasant Crossing. Seems the distance from I-540 and lack of infrastructure (mainly roads) were the deciding factors in moving the development from Bentonville to Rogers.

The name has also changed. It will be known as the Northwest Arkansas Sports and Entertainment Arena.

Talk has already started about bringing a WNBA team to the new arena. The plans for the arena are basically the same as before: 9,000 seats and forty luxury boxes. The project will include a training center, as well as two hotels and various commercial and retail businesses.

Site work is expected to begin in four to six weeks with a projected completion date of Sept. 15, 2008.

Meanwhile, the City of Springdale has formally signed a contract to bring Double-A baseball to the stadium it plans to build in southwest Springdale. The Kansas City Royals’ farm team of the Texas League, currently known as the Wichita Wranglers, will be renamed and call Springdale home when the 2008 season starts.

For more background on the baseball stadium in Springdale, please read my blog article dated July 21, 2006.

Both projects are huge undertakings and are sure to spur even more economic development in our area.

For more information:


http://ww .nwaonline.net/articles/2006/09/27/news/092806szrichvisit.txt


Sunday, October 01, 2006

World Trade Center – Another Huge Economic Boost for NW Arkansas

The Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas has been accepted as a member of the World Trade Centers Association, a non-profit organization of 284 members in 78 countries. The association was founded in 1970 by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and is dedicated to “peace and stability through trade.”

Offices will be located in Rogers in a brand new building currently known as Pinnacle Business Center. The building will soon be renamed Arkansas World Trade Center Building.

This achievement resulted from cooperation between the University of Arkansas, the offices of senators Blanche Lincoln and David Pryor, U. S. Rep. John Boozman's office, the Arkansas Department of Economic Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the city of Rogers, and the Pinnacle Group.

The Department of Economic Development provided a $200,000 grant to pay the initiation fee into the World Trade Centers Association.

The Walton Family Charitable Support Trust has made a five-year financial grant to the center’s operating budget.

It appears to be a win-win situation for everyone, including the university, Arkansas manufacturers, Arkansas as a whole, and NW Arkansas in particular.

University students will work with Arkansas companies at the World Trade Center on international trade consulting and the university will have ample opportunity to focus on international business and fair trade.

Manufacturers, particularly small to mid-size companies that usually do not have the resources to expand into world markets, will have access to market research, trade missions, support services, governmental agencies, and more.

Northwest Arkansas will gain the recognition and economic boost brought on by expansion into world trade markets.

Everyone involved is to be commended for their efforts and alacrity in bringing this home to NW Arkansas. It’s hard to believe that something that was just an idea a few months ago will become operational January 15, 2007.

For more information: