Fort Smith Housing Authority to build $10.4 million housing complex

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 2,631 views 

A new low-income apartment complex is being built on the north side of Fort Smith near the Arkansas Oklahoma Fair grounds. Fort Smith Housing Authority Executive Director Mitch Minnick said the project would be a 56-unit low-income complex called Electric Park.

According to the Fort Smith building permits, Compass Realty and Construction Group received a building permit for new construction Dec. 8 at 3816 N. 43rd St., with an estimated cost of $7.13 million.

The complex will be made up of four buildings and include eight one-bedroom apartments; 32 two-bedroom apartments; and 16 three-bedroom apartments. The property was a former trailer park that the housing authority acquired in 2016, Minnick said.

“We applied for low-income tax credit in 2021 and 2022,” Minnick said. “We were awarded those credits to help with funding.”

The IRS program is administered by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority to award federal tax credits that developers can then sell to an investor at a lower rate for equity in a housing project, Minnick said.

The housing authority was awarded about $989,000 in federal tax credits annual for 10 years, he said. First National Bank bought the federal tax credits and is acting as the lender for the project, which is expected to cost about $10.4 million, Minnick said. The remaining funding will come from the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, he said.

Construction is expected to be completed in early 2024,with leases expected to start by late 2023.

“We will do a phased lease up. After one building is completed, we’ll lease to occupy it,” Minnick said.

Compass Realty and Construction Group, the nonprofit subsidiary of the Fort Smith Housing Authority that operates as a fully licensed and bonded Realtor and construction contractor, will be the management company for the complex. Pre-lease will begin around July, Minnick said. All apartments will be income-based units with typical rent ranging from about $230 to $540 a month based on tenant household size and income.

“At the housing authority, our mission is to improve quality of life through housing and community development. That is what we are about to do – provide quality affordable housing for people in Fort Smith. By adding these 56 units, I know we will be able to help families and individuals in need get rent assistance and a quality place to call home,” Minnick said.

The name of the complex is tied to a piece of the city’s history. According to the Fort Smith Historical Society, Electric Park was built in 1905 by the Fort Smith Light & Traction Co. to encourage people to use the trolley lines that ran north out of downtown Fort Smith. The park was where part of the fairgrounds are now located, which is adjacent to where the apartment complex is planned.

“A theater, auditorium and ballroom hosted a variety of different events until they were razed in 1920. Balloon ascensions, fireworks displays, concerts and shows drew crowds along with a roller coaster and merry-go-round,” noted the Fort Smith Historical Society.