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Construction figures climb

White Hall has already established new annual construction record nine and one-half months into the year, with commercial development topping all previous levels, according to building permits issued during the past 15 years.

The development of Smart Auto Mall north of U.S. 270, immediately west of Interstate 530, in White Hall is expected to be completed in August 2013. Smart Motors, one of Pine Bluff’s oldest firms, is moving the bulk of the company’s automobile and truck dealerships to White Hall. Smart Auto Mall will include 70,000 square feet in three buildings.

The auto complex on slightly less than 15 acres at 8201, 8203 and 8205 Sheridan Road is projected to cost $11 million, according to the building permit issued by the city on Aug. 1.

As of Friday, the city has issued 71 permits this year, including four for single-family dwellings and seven for commercial development totaling $11.75 million. The total value listed on the 71 permits was $12.81 million.

The previous construction record of $12.67 million was set in 2001, followed by $11.94 million in 2008.

Mayor Noel Foster was all smiles when asked about the development in the city.

“A number of professions — doctors, attorneys and others — have decided White Hall is a great place to have an office,” he said. Foster noted the building permit issued in April to a Memphis firm to build a Dollar General store at 9001 Sheridan Road for more than $400,000 and developer Mo Dierich’s commercial office and retail space developed over more than a decade.

“More and more sales and service companies have decided to move here after they look at what we have, the safe environment and the quick proximity to the county courthouse, banking services, medical facilities and two gyms if they want to exercise during their lunch hours or after work,” Foster added.

“Smart will bring 100 or more people to the new complex,” he emphasized. “Like the others who have offices here, they will eat meals in our restaurants and purchase gas here.

“Mo Dierich has been building office and retail space here for years and about the time he completes a project, you turn around and it is rented and occupied,” Foster noted. Dierich obtained permits for three office buildings at 105, 107 and 109 Frankie on May 31.

Roger Smart Jr. said the sales and state-of-the-art service complex will allow the company to meet image requirements set by auto manufacturers.

Foster said that’s the kind of image that will improve White Hall’s economy and quality of life.

“Because of the steady growth we have had, I would not be surprised if our population of 5,500 does not double during a typical work day,” he observed. “We have service and sales people, teachers and other professionals that may live elsewhere, but come here to work.

“We are excited about it,” the city’s chief executive emphasized. “Any growth for a city our size is good economic news for the municipality and its residents.”

White Hall has a two percent tax on prepared food, with restaurant sales tax receipts earmarked for building a community center. The city also benefits from sales taxes collected here at the “point of sale.”