CBID approves building demolition, hears about Small Business Saturday

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 458 views 

A Garrison Avenue building constructed around 1900 is scheduled for the wrecking ball. The Fort Smith Central Business Improvement District (CBID) gave George Catsavis, acting as an agent for the Madelyne Catsavis Revocable Family Trust, permission to demolish the building at 601 Garrison Ave.

Also during the CBID’s monthly meeting held Tuesday (Nov. 20), Talicia Richardson reported that the Downtown Business Association and 64.6 Downtown are working together to get shoppers to downtown Fort Smith for Small Business Saturday (Nov. 24).

The building stands at the northwest corner of Garrison Avenue and North Sixth St. According to a memo from Brenda Andrews in the Fort Smith Planning Department, The Arkansas Architectural Resource Form shows the building was constructed around 1900 as Pabst Beer Depot. It was significantly remodeled in 1977 and used as a restaurant and offices.

“The building is considered non-contributing to the Garrison Avenue Historic District,” the memo states, and the demolition request followed Neighborhood Services communications with Catsavis. According to information provided by the trust, the roof of the building is caving in and the building is destroyed.

“We’ve looked into it. You really can’t repair it,” Catsavis told the commission. (Catsavis is a cousin to Fort Smith Director George Catsavis.)

Catsavis’ proposal for demolition includes him demolishing two buildings that make up the space, putting in a solid base and covering the area with top soil and sod, he said.

“I am looking at some ideas for the lot, but in the interim it will be a greenspace,” he said, adding that the lot could be vacant for a short period of time or years.

The commission approved the demolition on the condition that along with the sod, there would be at least a nominal amount of trees and/or landscaping to allow for an aesthetic greenspace and improvement for downtown Fort Smith.

“It would be consistent with streetscape plan we have in place,” said commission member Steve Clark, adding that addition of landscaping keep the area from perceived as a loss for the area.

Demolition of the building is expected to begin soon and be completed around the first of the year, Catsavis said.

Originally sponsored by American Express, in partnership with the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, and Roslindale Village Main Street, in 2010, Small Business Saturday is set on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as a “a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities,” states information on the U.S. Small Business Administration website.

This year 64.6 Downtown and the Downtown Business Association are asking Fort Smith and regional shoppers to visit downtown Fort Smith and keep things local on the day after Black Friday, said Richardson, executive director of 64.6 Downtown.

“Small Business Saturday was started as a way to promote shopping in brick and mortar business that are not the large chain stores,” Richardson said. “The Downtown Business Association has tons of activities planned (for shopper and visitors) that day.”

Among those activities is a tree lighting ceremony from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Ross Pendergraft Park, 200 Garrison Ave, at which Santa Claus will be available to visit with children and shoppers, said Heather Sanders with the Downtown Business Associates.

“We want to build awareness of the bookstores, boutiques that sell clothing, the resale shops that even have furniture, the specialty shops that sell tea and other things. We want to remind everyone of all we have locally in downtown Fort Smith,” Richardson said. “For one day, we are asking the people of Fort Smith and people of the region to shop local and support Small Business Saturday.”

The Downtown Business Associates will have other incentives to get shoppers downtown through the holidays including visits with Santa at Pendergraft Park from noon to 3:30 each Dec. 1, 8 and 15 and a New Year’s Eve event that will include a ball drop and fireworks, Sanders said.

“Shop small, shop often, shop downtown,” Richardson said.

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