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Business Owners Looking To Improve Downtown Fort Smith

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Property and business owners have some grand plans for the future of Downtown Fort Smith. They met with city leaders Wednesday (Feb. 2...

FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Property and business owners have some grand plans for the future of Downtown Fort Smith. They met with city leaders Wednesday (Feb. 20) during a town hall meeting hosted by the Central Business Improvement District (CBID).

For some people, growth in Downtown Fort Smith is needed to attract more people to live, work and play in the city.

"Someone's going to have to fund it. We're not calling on the citizens to fund anything. We're just saying how can we make this happen," said Talisha Richardson, 606 Downtown Executive Director.

Progress is happening with new amenities like the bike skate park, splash pad and a cigar and lounge bar.

At the meeting, CBID leaders asked how the city can utilize its most important asset, the riverfront.

"I want to see every spot downtown full of a business, or apartments, or amenities of some sort. No more empty buildings. No more boarded up windows. Everybody adding to the vibrancy of our neighborhood," said business manager Melissa Woodall.

Some of the things people expressed interest in are more grocery stores, restaurants and drug stores.

For business and property owners, that means improving the facades of the existing storefronts.

"Something as simple as landscaping, about how it can beautify your area and again kind of continue that spread of the vain," said business and property owner Beth Price.

In order to inspire more young professionals to come to Fort Smith, lifestyle changes are on the agenda. They talked about the potential for a dog park, movie theater and a bike path.

Executing the vision is something leaders are figuring out, but they say the momentum is there.

"I've seen undeniable change and progress. It's a completely different business than from when I started to now. I think due to a lot of the growth and development of downtown Fort Smith. It's incredibly encouraging and what happened tonight was phenomenal," said Price.

The CBID meets every third Tuesday of the month and meetings are open to the public.