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FAYETTEVILLE -- Plans call for a new hub of apartments, food, entertainment, office and retail spaces to be developed in Fayetteville.

Specialized Real Estate Group is under contract to buy an 8-acre site that the Farmers Cooperative at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and South School Avenue has called home since 1982. A preliminary plan has 220 apartments mixed with commercial uses.

The idea is to repurpose the buildings and maintain the character and history of the place, said Sarah King, head of marketing and communication for Specialized Real Estate Group. A boardwalk will follow the route of the old rail line that once served local timber and produce industries.

"It's going to bring housing to a place that will be a very hopping place to live and make the frontages of both South School and MLK much more attractive for everyone passing by," King said. "We are thrilled."

Modus Studio is serving as the project architect. Specialized Real Estate Group submitted a development plan to the city Wednesday, and construction is scheduled to start early next year.

The Farmers Cooperative is looking at multiple properties, said Matthew Crabtree, co-op president. Car traffic at the School-Martin Luther King intersection has made it difficult for large trucks to get in and out, and some business is slipping because of it, he said.

With the money from the transaction, the co-op may be able to expand operations, Crabtree said. The Fayetteville location could transform into multiple spots in or around the city, he said. The co-op recently bought a 46,000-square-foot warehouse in Lincoln in Northwest Arkansas.

"I know it's sad on one hand, but I look at it as a lot of opportunities for our customers," Crabtree said. "I think for the most part they're excited about it, especially if we can pull off what we're trying to pull off with getting some of these properties tied up."

The closing date is set for July 15. The co-op then will have 30 days to move, Crabtree said.

Specialized Real Estate Group hopes to link to the city's Cultural Arts Corridor downtown and the University of Arkansas Art and Design District along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, both in development.

The Razorback Greenway trail system runs along the property's west side. Stream-bank restoration to address erosion and plant native species also serves as part of the plan for the property.

"We're having lots of conversations," King said. "There's lots of enthusiasm around it. It'll be a terrific place to be."

Metro on 05/04/2019

Print Headline: Big plans afoot for developing Fayetteville farmers co-op site

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