Posted 12/16/2013 12:00 am
The spotlight of the Fort Smith business community has been locked on Chaffee Crossing. The 7,000 acres of mixed-use development sits on property once used as part of the legendary Fort Chaffee and is now providing new jobs, business expansion, infrastructure partnerships, new home construction, commercial development, community partnerships. historical preservation, schools, libraries and highways.
(View a PDF map of Chaffee Crossing, including development zones and major streets, by clicking here.)
The main artery of Chaffee Crossing will soon be Interstate 49, scheduled to be completed in 2014. The 6.5-mile stretch will span from state Highway 59 in Van Buren southward to U.S. Highway 71 in the southeastern portion of Fort Smith. In time, the same road will run from southern Louisiana to Kansas City, creating a route that will connect the Gulf of Mexico with Canada.
For now, the future I-49 is attracting industry. Phoenix Metals relocated from Russellville to Chaffee Crossing to be closer to its customers. The plant is currently under construction and is expected to be operational very soon. Affinity Chemical purchased property to construct a building in the historic district for a new operation. Old Dominion Freight and Warehouse relocated from across town to a newly constructed terminal and warehouse next to IÃ¢49. The company has plans to expand and add more jobs in the future. Umarex is currently undergoing a $7 million expansion that will result in nearly 120 jobs. Mars PetCare announced a $40 million expansion in October. And Fort SmithÃ¢based Harco Properties is beginning development of 105 acres parallel to IÃ¢49 that is zoned light industrial/mixedÃ¢use commercial.
There are already approximately 1,100 jobs at Chaffee Crossing. Employment ranges from retail, manufacturing, nonÃ¢profit, construction, commercial services, government and institutional to parks, recreation and historical.
Hot Springs developer Chaffee Crossing Real Estate began clearing land for a 70Ã¢store shopping center at the corner of state Highways 22 and 59, adjacent to the northern IÃ¢49 interchange in Chaffee Crossing. It will feature retail stores, restaurants, a hotel and commercial space. The landowners are working with a Dallas mall developer to attract wellÃ¢known retailers. An anchor retailer has not yet been announced.
Due to its reputation and rapid development, Chaffee Crossing is attracting fringe businesses that are also taking on the Chaffee Crossing name, even though they are not inside FCRA property boundaries. To date, First National Bank of Fort Smith, Patriot Square, a storage facility, a church, a retail complex and a liquor store have all included the buzzwords “Chaffee Crossing”.
The first restaurant to open at Chaffee Crossing will soon be under construction. El Zarape will be located on Massard Road near residential developments and walking/biking trails.
While it is a place of commercial development, three residential subdivisions are also taking shape. More than 300 singleÃ¢family homes with market values starting around $160,000 have been built in Cisterna Villa, The Woods and Reata.
Streets and utilities are already in place for the upscale housing developments Stoneshire (on Chad Colley Boulevard.) and Stonebrook (next to Cisterna Villa on Massard.) Local developers broke ground this year on the homes, which will have asking prices of $230,000 and up.
Muliti-family properties are also in the mix at The Reserve, a 500Ã¢unit apartment complex under construction along Chad Colley. Liberty Rose apartments (50 units) are planned on Massard next to the new Fort Smith Fire station. Currently, 1,073 singleÃ¢ and multiÃ¢family residential units are actively being developed, sold and constructed.
The future residents of Chaffee Crossing will have a lot of help in enjoying a comfortable quality of life. More than 12 miles of walking, hiking and mountain bike trails connect Chaffee Crossing to the 1,000Ã¢acre Ben Geren Regional Park. The trails wind through the woods and residential neighborhoods surrounding Massard Road.
Five churches have announced their plans to build at Chaffee Crossing. Southpointe Assembly of God, House of Restoration, River Valley Community Church, Massard Missionary Baptist Church and First Baptist Church of Fort Smith all plan to have a presence in the development.
The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority has set aside 80 acres to donate to Fort Smith Public Schools for a new high school. The school board is studying the timing to bring a bond initiative to voters, likely in 2015. With voter approval, construction will begin in 2016. The FCRA has also set aside five acres for a new branch of the Fort Smith Public Library near the new school property.
More public development includes a new fire station on Massard. It will serve Chaffee Crossing and southeast Fort Smith. Besides public safety, Fire Station No. 11 will also help hold down Fort Smith property insurance rates thanks to faster response times.
The city of Barling, Fort Smith’s neighbor to the east, is extending one of its city streets across Hwy. 59 to develop a new residential neighborhood and providing a new route to its 50Ã¢acre park. Both the development and the park are immediately north of the new shopping center, inside the Chaffee Crossing boundaries.
The Arkansas Highway & Transportation Dept. dedicated a new multiÃ¢million dollar facility in May that houses administration, maintenance, highway crews and a D.O.T. troop. The close proximity to IÃ¢49 provides the department with an opportunity to have all of their operations at one location. The facility on Frontier Rd. is the first new development within the city limits of Barling.