Two big building projects permitted in Fort Smith

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 140 views 

In the matter of a week, the city of Fort Smith has issued building permits with higher values than it did for the entire month of September 2012.

The two projects driving the majority of those values are the construction of the new Mercy Orthopedic Hospital at 79th Street and Phoenix Avenue, with a value of $26.2 million, and the construction of Smith Chevrolet's expanded location at 6500 Autopark Drive, valued at $6.35 million.

The new Mercy facility, when finished, will actually be a $42 million investment at its Phoenix Avenue location with the possibility of adding up to 100 jobs to the local economy.

The 69,000-square-foot facility will be two stories tall and have capacity for up to 36 patient rooms, as needs require. The facility will connect to an existing surgery center adjacent to the new hospital.

The facility will also include:
• 10,138-square-foot outpatient rehabilitation clinic with a therapy pool able to accommodate more than 100 patients per day;
• Pre-operative screening area where patients will come prior to surgery for a physical, EKG, x-ray and lab screening;
• Surgery waiting and registration; and,
• Café serving breakfast, lunch and a light dinner with seating for 50 and patio dining available.

“The entire building design centers around making recovery for patients quick and comfortable,” Janeen Kueck, executive director of the Mercy Orthopedic Hospital, said in the statement. “The inpatient floor has a loop like hallway so patients can begin walking shortly after surgery. Flooring changes will help them gauge how many feet they’ve walked as they gain strength. There are also special chairs in the patient rooms to aid in bedside physical therapy. The goal is to get patients back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

The $42 million Mercy Orthopedic Hospital is a large part of Mercy’s $192 million community master plan, which, according to a company statement, is “designed to recruit and retain doctors, build infrastructure and upgrade technology over the next seven years.” The plan was announced in August 2011.

The new Smith Chevrolet location moves the car dealership from its longtime home where Zero Street and Towson Avenue meet to a location along Interstate 540, adjacent to the company's Nissan Dealership.

Ground was broken for that dealership in July 2011, with plans announced to eventually move Smith's Chevrolet and Cadillac dealerships to the location. The entire investment is estimated to cost at least $14 million. When the Nissan dealership opened in March 2012, Smith Auto Group President John Smith Jr., said his plan had always been to eventually have all three dealerships at the new location fronting the interstate.

Smith said Monday the expansion will house the Chevy-Cadillac dealership now on Zero Street and include admin offices for all the dealerships owned by Smith Auto Group. He also said the new facility should open in the second half of 2014.

In May 2012, Smith Auto Group acquired Pineville, Mo.-based Hendren Auto Group, a move that will more than double the number of dealerships owned by and brands sold by the Fort Smith-based auto dealer. At the time, the acquisition expanded Smith Auto Group from two dealerships with three brands, to five dealerships with eight brands. Also, Smith Auto Group was then expected to grow from a company with about 125 employees to a company with around 175 employees.

Including the values of building permits issued since the beginning of the month, the city of Fort Smith has already issued permits totaling $41.975 million. That total is an increase of 115.88% over the entire month of September 2012, where the city saw building permits only total $19.444 million.

The total is also an increase of 150.56% over last month's numbers, when only $16.753 million in permits issued.

Final building permits figures will be released on Oct. 1 for the month of September.