The Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority passed a rule Thursday that curbs any future requests for dibs on any of the land set aside for the Fort Smith school district until possibly 2021.
The motion comes a week after ERC Create led by Rod Coleman requested first right of refusal on 18 acres of the promised land if the school system releases its rights to the property. If he was unable to obtain the property, access to ERC’s neighboring properties would be limited and the FCRA would have difficulty developing the “rough” land, Coleman noted last week.
Fort Smith Public Schools was given 71 acres of property in 2011 with a 10-year time limit for use. About 3 acres of the property has many utility easements on it. The southern portion has a steep grade, Coleman noted, that will make it difficult to develop.
FCRA board member Don Keesee said Thursday he was a “big fan of Rod’s and he’s been great out here,” but the board decided earlier this year to not look at any offers until the school district comes to the board with its decision on if or how it will use the land. ERC projects under development include The HUB retail and residential development, Providence at Chaffee Crossing and Avalon to name a few.
“This piece of property at this point is rough to deal with, but it is going to become unusable if we don’t get an access,” Coleman told the FCRA Real Estate Committee last week. “I understand the school system has the option ... I hope there are seven schools out there. But if they decide not to, then I’d like the first right of refusal so we can get out. It’s in my best interest but it’s also in yours.”
FCRA Real Estate Committee Chairman Galen Hunter, not in attendance Thursday at the board meeting, noted last week the school system has expressed concern that the acreage would be “tough to build on.”
To create “clarity” on the board’s position with the school property, Paul Beran, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith chancellor and an FCRA board member, made the motion on no more bids for school land until either the school district decides not to use the land, or its 10-year time limit expires.
Although a third Fort Smith high school is not likely to happen at Chaffee Crossing, Hunter noted last week the school district may consider using it for a technical trade school.