Chaffee Crossing in Fort Smith Continues to Attract Projects

by Chris Bahn  on Monday, Aug. 26, 2013 12:00 am  

Developer Rocky Walker, who owns Cobblestone Homes, has plans for a residential neighborhood of houses ranging from 1,800 to 3,500 SF. Building in Chaffee Crossing makes sense because of the retail and industrial development in the area, which also features more than 12 miles of biking and hiking trails. There is also a historic district, which includes the Barbershop Museum, site of Elvis Presley’s haircut when he entered the military in 1958. There’s also a nine-hole golf course nearby that was taken over by FCRA last year.

Even with all the amenities, Walker said, some in town seem skeptical that Chaffee Crossing will be good for the city. There is some concern, he said, that it will hurt other parts of town.

“I think there are a lot of people in my line of work and my age that see the opportunities out here,” Walker said. “Fort Smith will be unrecognizable in five years and we’re excited about it. Unfortunately, there are naysayers and people who are maybe a little bit jealous of the Chaffee Crossing area. What they don’t understand is this is a plus for all of Fort Smith from the east side to downtown and everywhere else.

“It’s a great opportunity for Fort Smith to not only survive, but thrive.”

All of the success that has happened at Chaffee Crossing has been achieved without perhaps the largest piece of the puzzle. Construction is continuing on Interstate 49, which will one day connect the Gulf Coast near New Orleans to the Canadian border. It will include a six-mile stretch that runs through Chaffee Crossing and connect Highway 59 from Van Buren to U.S. 71 south of Fort Smith.

It’s near the eventual intersection of Highway 59 and I-49 that the mall is planned. Owen said there will be 12 corners of prime real estate available after the interstate work is complete. Those, Owen said, will be some of the most valuable land in Chaffee Crossing thanks to an estimated 35,000 vehicles per day that will pass through the development district.

“Some people still don’t believe it’s going to happen,” Owen said of the I-49 project, set for local completion in mid-2014. “They’re convinced it’s not going to happen. There are some of those people around, some hesitancy until they see pavement or until they see traffic. But when that happens, those 12 corners are going to sell and that is going to be the icing on top of the cake as far as I’m concerned.

“It will be a tremendous boost. Maybe I can retire and 10 years from now this area will be so successful, nobody will remember we were here trying to make this happen.”



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