Simmons Bank expands to west Little Rock to former Bank OZK offices; in talks for naming rights for Liberty Bowl in Memphis
October 11-17, 2021
By The Daily Record Staff
Simmons Bank (Simmons) recently announced today the expansion of its presence in west Little Rockk with the purchase of Class A office space located at 17901 Chenal Parkway, which is the former corporate headquarters of Arkansas competitor Bank OZK. Pending signage and branding replacement, certain renovations planned to the interior, and regulatory approval, Simmons said it intends to begin moving associates into the building later this year.
“While Simmons Bank continues to grow and expand the geographic reach of our franchise, the resulting impact is that we have simply outgrown the capacity of our River Market Corporate Office,” said Simmons Bank Chairman and CEO George Makris Jr. “The opportunity to obtain prime space that is well-positioned in the fast-growing West Little Rock area affords us the opportunity to strategically reposition certain teams in a centralized location to increase operating efficiencies and enhance collaboration amongst our associates, with the additional benefit of adding a full-service branch and drive-thru that will allow us to better serve our customers.”
Located at the northwest corner of Chenal Parkway and Rahling Road across from The Promenade at Chenal, the 4-story 17901 Chenal building has approximately 90,000 square feet of Class A office space and 22,379 square feet of underground parking. Included on the first floor is a 4,200 square foot, full-service bank branch with ant to find space that not only met our design and technology needs but that was strategically located for meeting our customers’ needs,” added Matt Lukas, senior vice president of real estate at Simmons Bank. “The addition of this property, coupled with our River Market Corporate Office, should allow us to meet our office space needs for the foreseeable future as Simmons continues to grow.”
Over the past few years, the Chenal Parkway area has undergone a dramatic transformation with a burst of activity including the addition of a Costco Wholesale, an Aloft Hotel and Fitzroy Promenade apartment complex. Completed in 2008, 17901 Chenal was designed by Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects and constructed by CDI Contractors. Colliers International was the broker of record on the sale of 17901 Chenal.
Last year, Bank OZK moved into its $100 million new headquarters at 18000 Cantrell Road, the first phase of a 44-acre campus with a projected build-out of 15-20 years. Simmons Bank, the wholly owned subsidiary of publicly traded Simmons First National Corp. of Pine Bluff, first established a major employee presence in Little Rock with the purchase of the former Acxiom Corp. office tower in city’s River Market district in March 2017.
Besides Simmons and Bank OZK, regional banking rival BancorpSouth Corp. has also expanded its presence in the West Little Rock market. In late August, the Tupelo, Miss.-based banking group held a ground-breaking ceremony for a new four-story, 40,000 square-foot at 17900 Chenal Parkway, across the street from the new Simmons Bank offices. BancorpSouth’s new Central Arkansas location will house the company’s BXS Insurance affiliate and a full-service bank branch with commercial lending, wealth management and mortgage operations.
Separately, Simmons also continued its aggressive expansion and marketing in the Tennessee market. On Oct. 1, the Little Rock regional bank announced a partnership with the City of Memphis to enter talks to be title sponsor of Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Opened in 1965 by the City of Memphis as Memphis Memorial Stadium, the 58,000-seat stadium serves as a tribute to the veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
“With the continued reinvestment surrounding the Liberty Bowl and many other areas across the city, Simmons Bank is proud to partner with the City of Memphis to ensure the future of this historic stadium which represents a critical element of this important renaissance project,” said Makris. “As Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium, the name will continue to uphold the honor and tradition the stadium serves as a tribute to our veterans.”
Earlier this year, Simmons First National Corporation, the parent company of Simmons Bank, announced the acquisitions of Tennessee-based Landmark Community Bank and Triumph Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Triumph Bank. These acquisitions are expected to close in October. Once completed, Simmons Bank will be the 8th largest bank in Tennessee and 7th largest bank in Memphis based on market share data recently released by the FDIC.
“I couldn’t be happier with this public/private partnership that will allow us to enhance the overall fan experience at the stadium and will tie in perfectly with the $126 million Liberty Park development right next door,” Mayor Jim Strickland said. “Through this partnership with Simmons Bank, we continue to honor the history of the stadium while ushering in a new area as Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium.”
“Having the City of Memphis add a strong corporate partner like Simmons Bank is a progressive step forward for our community and the home of Memphis Tiger football. We look forward to working with all our partners to create the best experiences for every fan that enters the gates of Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium,” added University of Memphis Director of Athletics Laird Veatch.
Located in the heart of Midtown, the soon to be Simmons Bank Memorial Stadium, which is subject to the execution of a definitive agreement, includes 40 skyboxes, seven executive suites and a 175-person stadium club. Home to the University of Memphis football team, the stadium and fairgrounds has seen numerous renovations and expansions, and now has a capacity of 58,325. The stadium also hosts the Southern Heritage Classic and AutoZone Liberty Bowl. In addition to football, the venue accommodates other events such as concerts, family shows, band competitions and corporate events. Spectra, which has managed the complex since 2011, is negotiating the naming rights on behalf of the City of Memphis.
Besides the Liberty Bowl, Simmons Bank also purchased the naming rights to the former Verizon Arena in downtown North Little Rock for $10.5 million almost exactly three years ago. Simmons Bank Arena first opened in October of 1999 as Alltel Arena. As Central Arkansas’ top entertainment venue, it features a seating capacity of 18,000 and meeting and conference space of 28,000 square feet.