The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education (ACHE) has broken ground on an $11 million, 6.6-acre development across from the Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine (ARCOM). ACHE hosted a groundbreaking ceremony at the site on Tuesday (Aug. 28).
ACHE President and CEO Dr. Kyle Parker said the development known as Heritage Village will feature two residential/retail buildings comprising 86,000 square feet. Approximately 27,000 will be on the bottom floors of each building with the top two floors to be used as apartments. Parker told Talk Business & Politics after Tuesday’s event that about 80% “or 20,000-22,000 square feet” of the retail areas are spoken for.
The university will announce tenants all at once, “probably at the first of the year in January or February,” Parker said, adding that the development will be completed by July 2019.
“We already have most of the spaces spoken for. Of course, when you have 600 students and employees directly across the street in 2019 and over 1,000 by 2021, you can see why they’re in high demand.”
Also Tuesday, Parker explained why there wouldn’t be any business names announced prior to the end of the year.
“We’re not doing that yet, but we’ve got several,” he explained. “What’s happened is, we have multiple people who want to go into restaurants. Friendly competition is nice if it’s the difference between a pizza parlor and a sit-down restaurant. That makes sense. We don’t want two pizza (parlors) sitting here or two sit-down restaurants. We’ve had inquiries, and we actually have letters of interest that have already been signed by people that comprise over 80% of the retail space, and we won’t open the doors until July of next year.”
Parker said Ghan & Cooper Commercial Properties are working out the complexities.
“We’re not going to rent something just to get rent. We’re not going to allow any risqué bars down here because it’s got to fit our mission. But there are some great surprises of things that are not found in Fort Smith that will be going in here.”
Heritage Village is classified as a planned zoning district (PZD), a first in the histories of Barling and Fort Smith. A PZD is a type of building development and also a regulatory process. As a building development, it’s a designed grouping of both varied and compatible land uses. These include housing, recreation, commercial centers, and industrial parks, all within one contained development or subdivision. Heritage Village was designed by Michael Watkins, whose previous work includes Seaside, Fla. The design work took approximately a year and a half to approve through the respective cities at an estimated cost to the University of $250,000.