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Bike maker Orbea shifting sales hub, warehouse out of downtown Little Rock

Orbea USA will consolidate its sales and warehouse operations into one building at 700 West Broadway in North Little Rock with a scheduled move in for July.

The bicycle manufacturer will lease nearly 20,000 square feet of space in The Works at Rockwater, owned by Lisa Farrell and her husband, Jim Jackson. Farrell and Jackson finalized the purchase of the property from Truck Pro LLC for $750,000 on Friday. Sage Partners represented the seller.

Orbea has been operating a sales office and storefront with Spokes on Main Street in Little Rock, plus a 14,000-square-foot warehouse at the NorthShore Business Park in North Little Rock. A year ago the international bicycle manufacturer combined its U.S. distribution hubs into a single location.

Orbea established its presence on Main Street in Little Rock in 2013. It received $150,000 from the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to locate its North American headquarters in Little Rock.

"I'll be sad to see us leave downtown Little Rock. There are some exciting things happening down there and when we moved in, there was a lot less going on than there is now," said Keegen Knapp, U.S. marketing manager for Orbea USA. "We just need a bigger warehouse. We need room to grow for our staff. This facility doesn't fit exactly who we are and where we want to be."

Orbea will abandon the storefront operation it had with local dealer, Spokes. Knapp said the company realized its resources weren't best suited for direct-to-customer sales. Spokes opened its original location at 1001 Kavanaugh Blvd.

It will remain an Orbea dealer, Knapp said. Spokes owner Mat Seelinger did not return a call seeking comment.

Additional warehouse space will allow Orbea to carry a wider range of bikes for dealers as it does in Europe, Knapp said. Parent company Orbea S. Coop of Spain has been in operation for 176 years.

Orbea USA will offer more entry-level bikes and children's bikes to its 130 dealers across the country. It also will begin carrying electric bikes in the U.S.

Knapp said employees in the sales office were on the phone with the North Little Rock warehouse almost as often as they were calling the corporate offices in Spain. Having everything under one roof will streamline operations, he said.

"Somebody can walk back and make sure orders are available and going out on the same day," Knapp said. "This will definitely increase our ability to work more cohesively. It's also preparing us for growth."

Orbea will be the building's anchor tenant and Jackson will relocate his law office there. Rockwater Real Estate also will be among the tenants. Renovations will bring the total cost of the project to between $1.5 million and $2 million, Ferrell said, noting approximately 7,000 square feet remain.

Hydco Inc. of North Little Rock has been selected as the contractor for the project. The Works building is near a residential development, Rockwater Village, that overlooks the Arkansas River. Ferrell and Jackson are selling residential lots in the subdivision and also operate a marina there.

"We will create a cool industrial feel at The Works, preserving what we can," Ferrell said. "The Works at Rockwater location adjacent to the bike trail and less than half a block from the new $120 million Broadway Bridge makes it a prime location. This type of lifestyle business is a perfect fit for North Little Rock."

Click here to read more from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette!

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