Thinking Inside the “Big Box”
For five years, food no longer filled the shelves, and customers no longer bustled through the aisles of the empty Whole Foods in Little Rock; yet the building held great potential for future tenants. In 2019, Vice President – Brokerage Jason Parker met with Cushman & Wakefield | Sage Partners’ loyal client, McFarland Eye Care, as the company was looking to relocate their West Little Rock office to a more centralized and larger space.
McFarland Eye Care had been in a traditional 10,000 square foot medical building for 20 years before approaching Parker about their desire to move to Little Rock. It was important to McFarland Eye Care that the new location be closer to the center of town and more conveniently located for its patients.
During the search for a new location, McFarland Eye Care acquired an additional medical office, which meant there would be an increase in the number of patients and staff that they would need to accommodate. Since the client now needed a much larger space, Parker began to think inside of the big box.
He decided it was time to present a unique option to the client – the empty Whole Foods grocery store. “It would’ve been easy to plug McFarland Eye Care into a move-in-ready medical office space or a space of that nature, but the leadership at Sage has taught me to think bigger,” Parker said. “So, I began to think outside the box, and that is really what helped me present the opportunity to my client. I said to them, ‘You know, why don’t we look at this big-box grocery store and turn it into your medical office.’ The entrepreneurial spirit at Sage allows us to bring these big ideas to our clients.”
The 25,000 square foot Whole Foods building would need to undergo a complete renovation to become the state-of-the-art medical facility that the McFarland Eye Care team dreamed of. Initially, McFarland Eye Care planned to lease just 12,500 square feet of the Whole Foods location. However, during the negotiation process, it was clear that the company could take it one step further and truly create a space where it could grow long term.
“Initially, McFarland was going to only relocate their clinic space there,” Parker said. “However, throughout the negotiation, they determined that they were also going to grow their surgery center in order to fill out the remainder of this space. I am proud to have assisted McFarland through that lease negotiation and letter of intent. We also were able to incorporate our partnership with Hart Construction into this deal, to help with the renovation of the building.”
The once dark and empty building is now unrecognizable when you walk through its doors. Starting out as a completely blank canvas for the McFarland Eye Care team, it has been transformed into a modern, comprehensive medical facility, fully equipped with state-of-the-art exam rooms and technology, and furnished with beautiful decor. McFarland Eye Care opened the doors to the new clinic in September, and the surgery center will open in the fall of 2022.
“That Whole Foods building had been dark for around five years in the Pleasant Valley neighborhood,” Parker said. “So to be able to be part of the repurpose to medical use of this big box space is really exciting. I live in this area, so I am really excited to see the revitalization of this shopping center in my neighborhood with a great, high-quality tenant which will benefit the community.”