A landmark vacant commercial property anchoring South University Avenue and Colonel Glenn Road will be occupied again, according to Ron Copeland, director of the University District at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Before the end of the year, the Mosaic Church of central Arkansas and 10 Fitness will move into the former Kmart building. The move is a welcome development for the University District after the big box retailer shut its doors and the building fell into a decade of disrepair.
The redevelopment is part of the University District Partnership, which seeks to revitalize the neighborhoods and commercial areas close to UALR.
“This really is large scale,” Copeland said.
“We have known for some time that Mosaic Church was going to use the space, but I think 10 Fitness is probably the largest private development the University District has seen in several years.”
Great potential for future growth
Copeland said the church and private business will take about 100,000 square feet of excess commercial space off the market.
“Our real estate studies have shown that for a building like the former Kmart, where we have an excess of vacant commercial space and have new occupants, we see an enormous benefit to the area,” Copeland said.
Copeland said that repurposing existing older retail space into new regional destinations will draw more people into the area and improve markets for new or redeveloped retail properties.
“Mosaic’s presence helped draw new retail outlets into the former Walmart building and is having the same impact on the University Avenue and Colonel Glenn area,” he said.
Once their move is complete, Mosaic will have helped repurpose 180,000 square feet of space, which is about 50 percent of the existing commercial square footage in the University District. The Mosaic Church purchased the building, which sits on 10 acres, in December 2012.
In December 2013, 10 Fitness signed a long-term lease with the church to rent the other half of the space on the west side of the building and to open the largest of its nine locations in Arkansas.
“This deal is really a win-win-win for community revitalization efforts, the church, and for 10 Fitness,” said Mosaic Church founder and Pastor Mark DeYmaz, whose church has rented space in a former 80,000-square-foot Walmart store on Colonel Glenn Road since 2003.
Changes already making an impact
In fact, changes to real estate space in the University District in the last decade show that the church’s holistic approach to community engagement – addressing spiritual, social, and financial needs – has had a measurable impact in the University District and the broader community within the 72204 zip code.
According to the 2012 Economic Impact of Arkansas Volunteers report, Mosaic Church and its community-based nonprofit, Vine and Village, provided a combined total of nearly 10,500 hours of volunteer service to residents in the area.
Those hours translate to almost $352,000 in services provided.
Last year, its food distribution alone served more than 18,000 individuals from almost 2,900 households residing in the same zip code, representing 52 percent of the population and more than 100 percent of the more than 2,700 households living at or below the poverty level.
“We think it is more important to bring life back to the community and to demonstrate redemption in tangible ways — not to just be heavenly minded but earthly good,” said DeYmaz.
He continued, “By first becoming a church that reflects the wonderfully rich diversity of our community, we have been better able to help inspire real community transformation beyond rhetoric to results from the inside out.”
The Mosaic/10 Fitness facility will join several other new businesses on the southwest corner of University Avenue and Colonel Glenn Road, including a new restaurant, car wash and gas/convenience store.
The 3.5-square-mile University District includes the Fair Park/Oak Forest, Broadmoor, College Terrace, Point O Woods, and University Park neighborhoods.
Mosaic Church, a multi-ethnic, economically diverse church founded in 2001, has been featured in USA Today, the New York Times, and Washington Post.
With 24-hour access during the week, 10 Fitness offers the latest in fitness technology and provides a fully-staffed workout center for area residents for $10 per month.