AMR began as in informal after-hours meetings in the early 1980s between Redden, Moses, and Allison. Moses was an urban planner for Hodges, Vines, Fox, and Associates in Little Rock and Allison and Redden were local architects. "I guess there was sort of an attachment," remembered Redden of the informal group. "We were so naive. We were young. We thought about anything could happen." Invariably the discussions turned in the direction of forming a new company specializing in urban design and development. Remembered Moses later, "About the 11th or 12th month, one of us said, 'Drinking this Scotch is good, but we're going to turn into alcoholics. Maybe we better start a business or stop meeting like this.'"
In 1982 the group agreed to form AMR Architects, the company name coming from each of their last initials. Allison, Moses, and Redden envisioned a different kind of firm, one devoted to refurbishing existing building stock in the neglected downtown and managing these assets themselves. They also dreamed of a central farmer's market that would form the centerpiece of a new arts and entertainment district. Allison and Redden took on the primary roles of architects in the firm, and Moses accepted the duties related to promoting, leasing, and managing the projects as they developed.
The first project the new team tackled was the old Gans Building located at 217 West Second Street, which the three principals also used as their first office. The next project involved the rejuvenation of two buildings on East Markham Street into the Heritage Center East and West. Their plan involved renovation of two buildings and demolition of a building in between to create adjacent parking. The Department of Arkansas Heritage became the main tenant in Heritage Center East, and AMR Architects took over a top floor, sharing it with an apartment for Redden's family.
The group became successful enough to form a subsidiary company named AMR Real Estate. AMR Real Estate, focusing on development deals and property management in the western suburbs, built up the group's fortune rapidly. In 1984 Moses left AMR to focus on this part of the business, forming a partnership with Jim Nosari called Moses-Nosari Real Estate.
Redden continues to retain the AMR Architects namesake.
- Julian E. Barnes, "Jimmy Moses: The Man Has a Vision to Give Life to Downtown Little Rock," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, June 9, 1996.
- Kyle Brazzel, "James A. Moses: Success Finally Came Downtown for Jimmy," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, October 21, 2001.
- JoBeth Briton, "Project 2000 and the Diamond: A City Wrestles with its Future," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, July 1, 1991.