City Director Hoping To Redevelop Downtown Fort Smith With New Space

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The old C&H Tire building along Garrison Avenue is in the works to soon become a redeveloped area for dining and entertainment.

"It's got frontage on Garrison Avenue and it's an old garage, which lends itself really well to a restaurant, because it's got garage bays," Fort Smith city director Keith Lau said.

Those garage bays are what Lau said makes for a unique spin for a restaurant.

"The idea is to have the garage doors redone and have those roll up to be an open-air restaurant," he said. "There's going to be dining outside in front of the garage bays."

Other area businesses said they like the idea.

"I'm all for it," Jimmy Athchinson with Sigler Music Center said. "That's been vacant for quite some time."

Also in the plan, a roof top dining area.

"Hopefully what I'm gonna have is a restaurant with a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu," Lau said. "So, it's open after church for people to come down to eat breakfast or have lunch or dinner and be a hangout at night."

City leaders are hoping this new development will continue drawing in visitors to Fort Smith.

"It's quality of place, it's something to do," Lau said. "It's to keep people engaged in Fort Smith, instead of traveling outside of our market area to Northwest Arkansas or to Tulsa; something that's affordable and close and you don't have to drive an hour to."

Atchison said he thinks the new addition will help increase the foot traffic of other businesses downtown.

"Anything that promotes downtown, we're all for," Atchison said. "It's going to help our visibility, hopefully increase our amount of traffic with customers."

The contract for the building is pending, but Lau said if a tenant is lined up, the space could be open within the next year.