BENTONVILLE, AR-In its effort to better service Wal-Mart Stores Inc. vendors, the Regus Group has moved into Arkansas, taking down 15,000 sf in a six-year lease. The executive suite center operator plans to open in October in the 272,000-sf Bentonville Plaza, a class A building that’s right across the street from the retail giant’s headquarters campus.

Michael Berretta, Regus’ vice president of business development for the Dallas-based company’s Americas region, says Bentonville has been a target location for two years. “We chose Bentonville because of the proximity to Wal-Mart,” he explains. “We expand based on customer demand and we happen to share a lot of customers and vendors with Wal-Mart.” The quoted rate for the 609 S.W. 8th St. building isn’t available, but comparable office space in the neighborhood ranges from $15 per sf to $17.50 per sf, gross.

Berretta tells that the Bentonville center will be different from other Regus locations, with offices large enough to accommodate racking systems and displays. Additionally, meeting rooms will be available so that vendors not wishing permanent office space can rent space on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. “We don’t typically cater to a retailer with this much focus,” Berretta acknowledges. “This Bentonville project will have a lot of focus on retail clients.”

Richard Davis, vice president with the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, says Regus is one of many businesses infiltrating the area because of Wal-Mart. These days, he says, there are about 1,200 Wal-Mart suppliers in northwest Arkansas.

“Now we’re seeing the second tier of influx into our economy,” Davis says. “The service industry is coming in to support the industry that supports Wal-Mart. They’re companies that do business with the supplier community.”

Davis says that because of the influx, commercial space of all types is starting to expand, with the region’s inventory now 1.5 million sf. The present vacancy is hovering 30% because 400,000 sf has just come on line. Absorption has been holding steady at 10% per quarter.

Berretta says the concept of class A office space is somewhat new to the area. “When we were first looking in the market a couple of years ago, Bentonville Plaza was somewhat of an anomaly, being a class A suburban market office building,” he says, adding that product type simply wasn’t seen too often back then. “But the quality of the building and its proximity to Wal-Mart are outstanding.”

Tommy Van Zandt with Sage Partners LLC of Fayetteville, AR represented Regus Group. Dena Milburn with Irwin Saviers Ballard LLC in Bentonville negotiated the deal for the two-year-old building’s owner, Pitcairn Properties of Jenkintown, PA.

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