Jim Wilson, CEO of Jim Wilson and Associates, announced Tuesday night that Dillard’s will anchor Central Landing, the retail center to be developed on the site of the old airport.

The announcement came at a town-hall style meeting at the Centennial Valley Special Event Center where the developers of both Central Landing and the Lewis Crossing retail center were on hand to discuss their plans. Wilson said Central Landing will bring high-end stores currently missing from Conway.

"People are not shopping here because you don’t have the stores," he said.

Wilson said the center will help stop "leakage" from shoppers leaving town to shop elsewhere.

A press release at the Jim Wilson and Associates website Wednesday said the new Dillard’s is planned to be 100,000 square feet and will feature the company’s latest in store design and construction.

Central Landing is a 150-acre planned development featuring 250,000 square feet of retail in phase one, including Dillard’s and more than 40 specialty stores and restaurants. Following the retail phase, there are plans for hotels, office buildings, single family residential and apartment homes.

Brad Lacy, president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce and the Conway Development Corporation, said Central Landing is one of the ideas that came out of Conway 2025, a collective future visioning of Conway by a group of 1,400 residents.

"Very rarely do you have the opportunity to redevelop 200 acres in the heart of the city," Lacy said. The CDC wanted to look at redeveloping the old airport site, but to bring a large-scale retail project, they needed a partner, he said. Through a series of fortunate events, the CDC connected with Jim Wilson and Associates, he said.

"Are we going to capture the retail dollars for this region? I think we can with these two projects," he said, referring also to the Lewis Crossing development.

David Elrod of Collett and Associates, the developer of Lewis Crossing, announced several stores that will locate in the retail center, which will be built on the former site of the sale barn. Lewis Crossing is a 440,000 square-foot shopping center.

"Sam’s has been looking at Conway for a number of years and is very excited about anchoring this project," he said. The company also has letters of intent from Academy Sports, Ross Dress for Less, Forever 21, Bed Bath and Beyond, Petco, ULTA and Dollar Tree, he said. He noted a number of restaurants are also attracted to the area.

At the close of remarks Tuesday night, Jamie Gates, senior vice president of the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, encouraged the crowd in attendance to vote on Sept. 9 (or early vote starting Sept. 2) to approve the bond rededication to fund the roads to access the Central Landing property.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)