story by Ryan Saylor
More details were released Tuesday (April 15) on a planned mixed use development to be built at 822 Garrison Ave. The information was presented at Tuesday's Central Business Improvement District meeting. Developer Rodney Ghan of R.H. Ghan Commercial Real Estate confirmed that a franchisor of Jimmy John's had committed to the space he plans to remodel, adding that the Florida-based franchisor is also constructing an additional Jimmy John's location along Rogers Avenue, next to a new Popeye's.
The location proposed for Garrison Avenue will be about 2,400-square-feet, while the Rogers Avenue location will be smaller, according to Ghan.
Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman, who serves as a liaison between the city and the CBID, said even though the project falls within the CBID's jurisdiction, it would not need the CBID's blessing for a zoning variance from the Fort Smith Planning Commission since the building had previously been granted a variance under previous ownership for a previous remodel.
Dingman also made the point that the set back outdoor eating area proposed for the development was not much different than other restaurants along Garrison, with CBID Commissioner Phil White pointing to Neumeier's Rib Room and Bravo as two examples along the Garrison corridor.
White did question materials that would be used in the renovation of the building, which Ghan said dated back to circa 1929. Ghan said once plans were finalized, he would address the concerns of building materials with the CBID, of which he is a member.
Ghan did address the apartments to be rented on the second floor, explaining that the two units would rent for $850 per month and one would be rented to the manager of the Jimmy John's, who he said is relocating from Florida to manage the quick service sandwich shop.
As for cost for renovation of the building, Ghan said he did not have firm numbers at this point, though he said it would be a significant investment.
Permits could be issued as soon as 45 days from now, he added, with the building being completed as early as the Fall of this year.
In other business, Dingman told CBID members that design for a planned splash pad at Compass Park was taking longer than expected, though he said a 2014 opening was still a probability.
At the March CBID meeting, the concern about the project was securing funding since the project had run over budget by about $50,000. Even though funding has now been secured, Dingman said Parks Director Mike Alsup and engineer Bobby Aldridge of Frontier Engineering were still attempting to control costs.
"I talked to Mike this morning and he talked to Bobby yesterday. They're still trying to tweak (the budget). Even though we have some available funding, we still want to be as efficient as we can."
In order to have the splash pan open for at least some of the hottest months of the year, Dingman said he had given the parks department a timeline to complete the project.
In assuring White, who expressed concern that it could be more than a year before the project is completed, Dingman said even if the public pools close, a completed splash pad could be used this year since the hottest months of the year would likely last even beyond the closing dates for the pool. He said leaving the splash pad open was simple since a staffed life guard did not have to be on site.
The CBID will meet again on May 20.