Gateway Planning, 64.6 Downtown set final presentation date for Fort Smith redevelopment plan

by Aric Mitchell ( 129 views 

Gateway Planning will present its final strategic redevelopment plan for downtown Fort Smith to the Fort Smith Board of Directors on Jan. 31, 2017, at 5:30 p.m. The event will be held at the Riverfront Pavilion located at 121 Riverfront Drive.

Organizer Talicia Richardson with 64.6 Downtown made the announcement at Tuesday night’s (Dec. 13) Fort Smith Planning Commission meeting after sending email invites to the Board of Directors earlier in the day. The Planning Commission will also be a part of the meeting since “at some point in time, the planning department will be involved from a form-based code standpoint,” which is a land development regulation that uses physical form as an organizing principle rather than separation of uses (i.e. industrial, commercial, residential).

The event will be open to the public, but unlike the Sept. 15 stakeholders meeting, it will not include a Q&A/comment period to follow.

“It’s not going to be like the charrettes (Sept. 15 design presentation). It’s just going to be Gateway having a discussion with the Board as they have at the previous CBID and Comp Plan meetings,” Richardson said. “It will be a public meeting, but that (feedback) was the purpose of the stakeholder interviews. This will be based on everyone’s feedback from July and September and even the present because some citizens have been emailing Gateway directly. This is just an expanding of that.”

Richardson said 64.6 Downtown has been in “constant contact” with Gateway, sending along any relevant ideas or developments.

“I do feed information to Gateway that may be relevant,” Richardson said, noting items like the Board’s recent discussions at city budget hearings regarding what to do about parking meter rates.

“It’s a constant dialogue of things that might be beneficial to the community,” she said.

Leading the Jan. 31 discussion will be Gateway Founder Scott Polikov and Associate Kelsey Berry. The Dallas-based firm is the same company behind the strategic downtown redevelopment in Rogers. At the Sept. 15 stakeholders meeting, Polikov did not give a price tag on what putting the plan into action might cost, but he did identify past client Owensboro, Ky., as a similar project. To date, that project has involved more than $100 million in public investment and $160 million in new private development.

According to Polikov, whatever success the city seeks will depend on public and private sectors as well as Fort Smith residents coming together. Throughout the process, he said, Gateway will work with the city to find available dollars for infrastructure and to attract private investment.

“(Downtown) will need additional dollars from the private sector, but our job is to make it attractive to them,” Polikov said, adding that “great downtowns move forward because investors see the potential and are then reinforced by other investors.”

The Gateway Planning redevelopment plan is funded through a combination of funds from the Central Business Improvement District (CBID, $50,000) and private donations. The total eight-month contract between Gateway and 64.6 Downtown was for $258,000. A complete list of the plan’s incorporated changes thus far is available at this link.