BARLING -- A new space to house River Valley medical students, as well as stores and restaurants, is planned for the Chaffee Crossing area.
The Village at Heritage, a set of commercial and residential spaces in Barling owned by the nearby Arkansas Colleges of Health Education in Fort Smith, will host a groundbreaking Dec. 15 for a third building for student housing and retail, according to Kyle Parker, chief executive officer of the institution.
Parker said the 78,131-square-foot building, called Building C, will have three floors. The first floor will hold retail establishments and the other two will be student apartments.
Susan Devero, the colleges' executive director of marketing, communications and community relations, said the building will have 70 apartment units and seven spaces for retail after its estimated completion in March 2023. Buildings A, B and C will comprise 158,894 square feet at the Village at Heritage, with A and B both having 32 apartment units.
The Chaffee Crossing area is in both Fort Smith and Barling.
Daniel Mann, executive director and chief executive officer of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, said via email growth at the colleges is having a positive impact on the overall development of Chaffee Crossing. The authority oversees development of the crossing area. New investments, living spaces, amenities, business and education opportunities and job creation are an extension of this growth, he wrote.
"Faculty, students, researchers, administrative and support staff and their extended families will be making this area their home. Beyond the campus family, we can expect to see expanded support services and job creation in a wide variety of sectors throughout the area," Mann wrote.
Steve Core, city administrator for Barling and a member of the authority's Design Review Committee, said the new building at the Village at Heritage will provide new housing and sales tax revenue for the River Valley. The area also will benefit from the sale of materials and workers' wages the construction project will provide.
Core said the Village at Heritage provides facilities that were minimal in that area until the colleges started building there and attracting people.
Devero said the Village at Heritage sits on 8 acres owned by the colleges at 7309 Chad Colley Blvd. It also includes private homes. A park is being built, which is expected to be finished next year.
Letters of intent for the retail spaces in Building C have already been signed, according to Parker.
Devero said the businesses slated to occupy these spaces include a second location for My Uniform Corner, a new gift shop concept from Creative Kitchen, Simply Couture Boutique, a boba tea/Vietnamese restaurant and another restaurant featuring fresh fish and steaks.
The Arkansas Colleges of Health Education will be able to house 44% of its students once Building C is complete, according to Devero. She said in November the institution had a total of 694 students across its three existing programs. It will begin its three-year School of Occupational Therapy program with an inaugural class of 36 students Jan. 6.
The institution is planning to build more student housing beginning next year, according to Parker.
Chaffee Crossing has 42 residential neighborhoods, including single-family homes, duplexes, apartments, townhomes, cottages and Airbnb units. Multifamily neighborhoods comprise about 54% of the residential units, with apartments representing 30%.
Source: Daniel Mann, executive director and chief executive officer of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority