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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/BEN GOFF • @NWABENGOFF A view of businesses on South 1st Street in downtown Rogers.

ROGERS -- Residents seeking for new restaurant options can look forward to a food truck court that may open downtown by the end of the year.

The Planning Commission approved a permit for 623 W. Walnut, only one block east of the Walnut and Eighth Street intersection, with the intended use for food trucks to park and operate.

Commission action

Rogers’ Planning Commission met Tuesday and approved:

• A development and rezoning for The Fields at Pinnacle. The rental units will be on 23 acres on the north side of West Northgate Road and the west side of Champions Drive.

• A permit for Children’s Therapy Service to provide daycare at 5500 Pinnacle Point Drive, Suite 100.

• Rogers Water Utilities request to waive the requirement for hard surface on an interior drive at the Rogers Treatment Plant at 4300 S. Rainbow Road in the light industrial zoning district.

Source: Staff report

Ashley and Jeff Keesling of Jammer Dormvplan to remodel a former service station on the site to feature open seating. The court area would have six fixed locations for businesses, four marked for food trucks and two as retail or service, according to documents provided to the commission.

"The old filling station is at the hub, the entrance to the new downtown area," said Ashley Keesling. "We wanted to provide a stable location for vendors to park year-round, with an indoor and outdoor seating areas and grassy area out back for picnicking."

Projected hours for operation are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with limited hours Sunday tentatively at 2-6 p.m., Keesling said. Outdoor seating will be under the renovated station's awning, beer and wine will be served, which visitors could drink within the fenced in green space behind the building.

Commissioners expressed concern over a lack of public parking, but Jeff Keesling said on-street parking is authorized on Seventh Street, adjacent to the property.

A few residents spoke enthusiastically about the project.

"I'm excited to hear about this development," said Bill Watkins, who was there to represent another project on the agenda. "I live within walking distance of it, it fits the downtown master growth plan and solves an eyesore."

Larry Murphy, owner of Advanced Title, which is across the street said he'd also improved his building in the neighborhood.

"We've done improvements, and I like the location," Murphy said. "I think this would move downtown closer to us. I approve."

Shey Bland, executive director for Main Street Rogers, also spoke in favor of the project.

"Walnut is a cooridor into downtown, but (this location) it is a bit of an eyesore at this time," Bland said. The food truck court "is a great way to greet people into downtown, and we should be supporting and providing food truck culture where other communities are ahead of us on that."

No completion date has been set, but now that construction can now begin, the Keeslings hope to have things open sometime in 2017. No restaurant or business names were released as intended tenants of the location, but Ashley Keesling said a few are informally on board.

Jeff Keesling said the couple considered operating a food truck themselves, but Ashley Keesling realized if they opened one, there would be no place to put it in Rogers.

"Our friends who owned food trucks had poor experiences and were driving from Beaver Lake all the way into Bentonville to run their business because it was hard to find a place in Rogers, they wouldn't allow it," Ashley Keesling said.

The couple was looking for a small building with a large lot. A former gas station was ideal to provide appropriate space for trucks and visitors, she said.

The food truck court has been in the works for two years now. Keesling acquired the building in May and applied for the permit in August, but withdrew it for extenuating circumstances regarding the site.

A Planning Department staff report said the request posed no concern to the adjacent property or long-term use plans and was consistent with the Downtown Rogers Initiative Plan to create a vibrant mixed-use district through promoting downtown activity and encouraging walkability.

Food truck vendors going in the location will need a permit from the city, a certificate with the Arkansas Department of Health and a Rogers business license.

"This is a good recycling use of property," Commission Chairman Don Spann said. "We can gather these folks together to something in the community's best interest."

NW News on 02/22/2017

Print Headline: Food truck court coming to Walnut Street

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