Matt Timboe is a fan of Chickadee’s Fresh Fare, near the library on the south side of downtown Siloam Springs. The restaurant opened in early June, and in less than three weeks, he’d already eaten there five times.
Timboe, along with Derek Dewey and Matt Zaidner, are partners with Chord Properties, a residential property management and development company. They are working to provide new homes and housing developments in the area to support growth in the community.
Over the past year, more than a dozen new businesses have opened throughout Siloam Springs, bringing in more than 180 jobs, according to information provided by the Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce. Nearly a dozen more businesses will soon expand here or open, offering a similar number of jobs. Once completed, these nearly 30 business and expansion projects should bring in almost 400 jobs.
In 2014, Timboe and Dewey started Chord. Zaidner joined in 2015, the same year Timboe sold Seven Pillars Contracting to Chord. Timboe, who started Seven Pillars in 2004 and has built 40 homes in the Siloam Springs area, said Seven Pillars is the new construction brand for Chord.
“We feel like we are stronger together,” Timboe said. “Right now, we have 14 homes going.” Several more homes are soon to be under construction. About half of the homes the company builds are custom.
They’ve been building out Stonecrest subdivision in east Siloam Springs after purchasing the remaining lots, and there are 35 available. Home prices range from $205,000 to $299,500 or between $115 per square foot and $118 per square foot, depending on if the house has a two- or three-car garage.
Another project in the works is the company’s first multifamily development. In five years, he expects the company won’t be building as many houses and will be focused on multifamily developments. In 20 years, he hopes 98% of the developments are multifamily.
Timboe also looks to develop technology to resolve issues in the construction industry. “Most technology solutions are geared toward energy efficiency,” he said. The technology they develop might address this but maybe not. “You can solve problems in any industry by just fixing the process.” Yet, he understands he and his partners aren’t engineers. “We’re idea guys.”
Timboe not only sees good development happening downtown, but also along U.S. Highway 412. He said the growth that’s happening there wouldn’t fit downtown. Food and beverage establishments are thriving downtown, but he’s seen retail businesses come and go because they’ve lacked foot traffic to survive without another means to sell their products, such as online.
“What’s really thriving is places providing an experience,” Timboe said.
And downtown might see more foot traffic soon. While the city has yet to approve them, plans are in the works to build a splash pad and an amphitheater adjacent to Siloam Springs Public Library.
Northeast of the library, Pour Jons Coffee & Vinyl Shoppe recently opened on Main Street in part of a 7,500-square-foot building owned by TC Developments. Owners Tyler and Allison Carroll, who also own TC Screen Printing, started the development company after selling their original screen printing business in Costa Mesa, Calif., in spring 2014. They opened TC Screen Printing in Siloam Springs in 2013.
“I’m from here originally,” Tyler Carroll said. “We knew we wanted to be in downtown Siloam.”
The company’s first project was the restoration of its existing screen printing business on Broadway Street. Carroll said he wanted to make it a solid property whether their business was there or not. They installed 30 concrete columns under the building and brought in red oak floors from Indiana. Plans are in the works to move the business next to Pour Jons. While he’s unsure who might move into his existing building after his business relocates, Carroll said a national chain has expressed interest in the building, which sports a vintage mural greeting people to Siloam Springs.
TC Developments’ second project was the building containing the coffee shop. Carroll purchased the 7,500-square-foot building, originally a 1940s car dealership, in October from friends, who operated it as a gym.
“They did some of the heavy lifting for us,” Carroll said. “They put time into this building.”
After he convinced the owner of Pour Jons to relocate across downtown, he started the renovation project in November. It opened in March, and its business has more than doubled since moving there, Carroll said.
The building offers a shared patio with wood benches and tables for all the businesses there. A brewery, which is set to open in September, will occupy 4,000 square feet of the building. A design business, which moved in about a month after the coffee shop, occupies a smaller portion of it.
“We do this because we love this community,” Carroll said.
The building will become part of a larger area known as the Five Points, after he relocates his screen printing business next door. “We want to give areas identity and claim a zone,” he said.
Five Points got its name after the consultant for the downtown master plan described it as such because of the five streets that intersect there.
Another development Carroll said he’s considering is a container park, in which businesses would operate in cargo containers, similar to a development he saw in Tulsa. The park would be located on property he owns behind the building that includes Pour Jons.
HEART OF DOWNTOWN
At 101 S. Broadway St., in the heart of downtown, the old post office building is expected to be filled by Bentonville-based Phat Tire Bike Shop. It is set to move into the city-owned building after it’s renovated this year.
To the south, Heather Lanker is renovating a garage into an event center accommodating up to 700 people. The 6,000-square-foot space is part of a 14,000-square-foot building, which was originally a Chevrolet dealership.
“I am bringing the building up to code but leaving it as ‘garage-y’ as possible,” Lanker said. “I will own this new business as well and am hoping that it will draw new life to our downtown. I see my event center opening up by the end of the year and booking concerts, dances and weddings there.”
Lanker, who moved from southern California in 2006, opened a children’s boutique, Heather Hill, downtown in 2008. About a year later, she moved into a larger location before purchasing one of the largest downtown buildings, the Feemster building. Not only will it include the event center and her clothing business, but also Luxxe Loft women’s boutique and a convenience store/deli.
The second phase of the project will add two apartments behind the event center, and The Joshua Center Siloam will be on the mezzanine level.
“This renovation should take me about two years,” Lanker said. “I’m thinking this may be my biggest project, but you never know. In the future, I would like to add a family loft for my husband and me to live in on top of the back section of my building.”
STRIKING A BALANCE
The Siloam Springs Chamber of Commerce has been striving for a balance between businesses in downtown and along Highway 412. Wayne Mays, president and CEO of the chamber, said “our downtown is very desirable.” Yet, more than 25,000 vehicles travel the highway daily.
In eastern Siloam Springs, two shopping centers are under construction across the highway from chain restaurants, Rib Crib and Cotton Patch Café. The shopping centers will include businesses such as Great Clips and restaurants, Matador and Pieology, which is open. Not far to the west, Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers is expected to open on Main Street. A new Planet Fitness sits north of the lot, and across the highway, is a new Burger King.
In western Siloam Springs, Holiday Inn Express opened, not far from the Oklahoma state line and Cherokee Casino & Hotel in West Siloam Springs, Okla. Slightly east, Springdale-based Foghorn’s restaurant plans to move into the former McDonald’s location at 1400 Highway 412.
In eastern Siloam Springs, Skydive Skyranch is building an 18,000-square-foot hanger at Siloam Springs Municipal Airport along Arkansas Highway 59. And on Lincoln Street, Simmons Foods is wrapping up construction on a $26 million feed ingredients plant expected to add 78 jobs, including research, design and information technology positions, Mays said. “These are good jobs.”
The universal problem cities are facing has been the workforce, Mays said. With an unemployment rate just over 2%, filling skilled labor positions has been a challenge. Recently, industries and the school district partnered to establish Career Academy of Siloam Springs, a program to train high school students in skills such as welding, electrical and industrial maintenance. This spring, 16 students graduated from the program.
“They are ready to go to work,” May said.