Northwest Arkansas brewer may open taproom, brewery in former Shipley Baking facility

by Aric Mitchell ( 3,970 views 

Studio 6 Architects unveiled plans Tuesday (June 19) for a potential brewery to be housed in the former Shipley Baking facility at 63 S. Sixth St., owned by Central Business Improvement District (CBID) chairman Bill Hanna of Hanna Oil & Gas.

The firm, an agent for KMW Properties, is doing design development work for Hanna, who is in talks with a Northwest Arkansas brewery. While Hanna wasn’t at liberty to name the tenant, sources on condition of anonymity said it would be Bentonville-based Bike Rack Brewing Co. Talk Business & Politics reached out to company to ask about possibly locating in the Hanna property.

“Nothing is official yet but we are definitely interested in being a part of the exciting growth in downtown Ft. Smith and hope to be involved soon,” an official with Bike Rack noted in a response.

At the meeting, Studio 6 received CBID approval for demolition on a 1,500-square foot portion of the facility to accommodate future construction and renovation. Part of the building is used as an events center. The new development will retain this function and add three additional uses, according to Shannon Reith, Studio 6 designer and project manager.

“The main focus of our renovations on the project will be to add some supplemental bathrooms and improve the bathroom facilities to provide the sufficient number for the current usage, and for new usage of a taproom. There’s a brewery in Northwest Arkansas that is very interested in coming down here, and they want to first come in and establish a taproom with some of their beer and others from some of the local brews.”

Reith continued: “Our current work, phase one, includes the initial bathrooms to support the event center and the taproom. Another part of that is a new catering kitchen, which will come in, and as well as catering outside events, provide food for the taproom and the event center as contracted.”

Shannon Reith, Studio 6 designer, discusses plans for the former Shipley Baking building in downtown Fort Smith, during Tuesday’s (June 19) meeting of the Central Business Improvement District. Also pictured is Bill Hanna, CBID chairman and owner of the Shipley building.

Another feature will include a “large outdoor deck area to provide outdoor seating for the taproom and event center.” It will include new artwork, walking areas, and a courtyard. As for the soon-to-be-demolished portion, those will be two structural bays of the metal building extension towards 7th Street.

“The purpose for the demolition is mainly to provide better off-street maneuvering for semis and trucks that will be servicing the future brewery,” Reith said. “When the trolley came in and did their extension around the corner, they added several poles to support the trolley lines, and that kind of made the former access pretty difficult. They would have to maneuver between certain sets of poles to back into a dock area. So by eliminating those last two structural bays, we provide a wider driving area.”

The timetable for moving forward will be inside of three months.

“Right now, we’re putting together a pricing set for Petrie Construction. We’re at the design development stage. They’ll do a pricing set on that, and based on the results, we’ll judge whether to continue on to permits or kind of reevaluate based on cost,” Reith said.