Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online

At the crossroads of everything in Chaffee Crossing, FCRA makes connections

At the crossroads of everything in Chaffee Crossing, FCRA makes connections

Above, FCRA director Ivy Owens and Lorie Robertson with Chaffee Crossing maps.

At the crossroads of everything in Chaffee Crossing, FCRA makes connections

What is now the work of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority? What isn’t, its long-time director Ivy Owen is likely to answer. While Chaffee Crossing is “growing up,” the mission of the FCRA is still vital and ongoing.

Created by the state legislature in 1997 to oversee the development of the 7,000 acres turned back to public use after release from service as a military base, the FCRA was charged with stewardship of the land’s value and natural resources during the transition. It serves the public interest.

In myriad ways, particularly by establishing a Master Land Use Plan with community input, the FCRA was given the responsibility to see that all its neighboring people could benefit by living, working and enjoying its natural assets – until every last acre in the area now called Chaffee Crossing was responsibly and productively used.

In a wide-ranging talk with this magazine last month, Owen and Lorie Robertson, director of marketing, showed the many kinds of work yet to come and the staff’s deep knowledge of Chaffee Crossing’s progress. It is evident that nothing there ever stands still. 

The two were relishing several August groundbreakings, including for the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education’s new Heritage Village and ERC’s The Hub at Providence development. Both will thoughtfully mix residential living and commerce according to the best ideas in contemporary urban planning and design. 

These highly visible projects are going to be built now as a result of long-term efforts of the FCRA. Think zoning meetings, utilities easements, real estate laws – the FCRA staff spent years addressing those complicated factors, unseen by most citizens.

“The land use plan that Ivy and other professionals worked together to develop has been there from the beginning,” Robertson observed. “It is very complex. But the developers bought into it.”

The people and work behind Chaffee Crossing’s many successful, mature residential commercial developments are intimately familiar to them. They name off neighborhoods, streets, specific land parcels, segments of public trails and bodies of water expertly. Both know hundreds of people: real estate developers, land buyers, homeowners and business entrepreners among them – and know what those people are doing that will be significant to Chaffee Crossing.

Another enormous task the FCRA continues to undertake is to see that the Chaffee Crossing area and its people are served well with streets, roads and the best possible connecting routes to all surrounding city, state, county and interstate roads and highways. The completion of a portion of I-49 that runs from U.S. 71 to Arkansas 22 is fundamental to its future and perhaps the best accomplishment the FCRA was a part of, Owen has said many times. When the completed interstate extends north and south, it will determine an entire region’s future, he explained.

More locally but also critically important, Owen said, “the city of Fort Smith’s infrastructure is keeping up with development. In August, the city let bids for the surfacing of Wells Lake Road. That’s great.”

In late 2019, a relocation project will connect Ark. 255 with Zero Street directly, making “four lanes to Ben Geren Regional Park,”?he said. “That will help with at Massard Road and Zero.” 

“In the next 12 to 18 months or so,” Robertson adds, “we’ll see the addition of two lanes on Massard down to Planters Road. That will help the ArcBest traffice and the congestion at the entrances of Cisterna and Stonebrook.”

Even people who live in one the many pleasantly named neighborhoods at Chaffee Crossing probably can’t distinguish them or locate them as easily as Owen and Robertson do in casual, fast-moving conversation. On almost every wall of FCRA headquarters, maps and prospective maps line out ever-changing infrastructure ideas and projects. The maps are a big help to the geographically challenged to keep up. 

They are representative of many daily Chaffee Crossing users. Owen and his wife live in a residential development there. Robertson and her husband raised a family in nearby in Lavaca. 

The FCRA has sought to enhance adjacent cities Barling and Fort Smith but also Greenwood, Jenny Lind, Lavaca and all surrounding and communities. 

Owen and Robertson, along with the other professional and friendly staff of the FCRA, extend the same helpfulness and welcome to visitors, tourists of the Chaffee Historic District, Elvis fans, governors and officials, prospective business owners, students, bike riders, walkers and lovers of the outdoor recreation at the River Valley Nature Center. They make connections that are helping Chaffee Crossing “grow up.” FCRA headquarters is at 7020 Taylor Avenue, Fort Smith.

This article appears in the September 2018 issue of Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine. 








Print Print
Entertainment Fort Smith Magazine, Online