64.6 Downtown: Report on downtown Fort Smith intitiatives from John McIntosh

Summer heat gives way to the crispness of autumn. We only have a few minutes to pause and reflect on the progress and the fun we've enjoyed so far this year.

Echoes of the Ales for Trails Craft Beer Festival and the Peacemaker Music and Arts Festival transitioned to "oohs and ahhs" at The Unexpected, Fort Smith’s annual event that brings the best in urban contemporary art to Arkansas.

The Arkansas State Criterium Championship races, dubbed, "Hell on the Border" brought cheers, and gasps of amazement as bicyclists from across the region beat and banged each other through the streets of downtown for the second year straight.

Plus, the long-awaited Garrison Commons is open for business. The park offers much-needed urban green space along the avenue. Garrison Commons will be open for the public to enjoy, and is available to rent for private events. Turning a once-vacant lot into a versatile outdoor event space for all of Fort Smith to enjoy has been a rewarding collaboration. The project, of course, is possible due to the generosity of the Grimm family.

Garrison Commons features a stage for live performances, and food truck service Monday through Saturday by Joe Caldarera. Salvatore's Rustic Italian Cuisine features wraps, salads, and a selection of sandwiches, each of which is served with house-made Parmesan garlic potato chips.

Garrison Commons is a privately funded park, relying on generous contributions from community partners and sponsors, including Studio 6 Architects, Forsgren, Inc., King Irrigation & Lighting, Propak Corporation, Frank Sharum Landscape & Design, Rheem, Bud Jackson, Kevin Hickey Law, Mrs. Zemira “Sam” Grimm, C&D Electric, OG&E, UPack, Pinnacle Communications, Maxey Signs, Russ Basham, and American Precision Fabricators. For rental inquiries, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The project, Propelling Downtown Forward, continues to gain momentum. This project is a privately-funded initiative that will lead to a comprehensive plan for the future growth and development of downtown Fort Smith. Volunteers are gathering input from the public, as well as public, private, and nonprofit entities.

The plan will provide specific recommendations for smart and sustainable growth for public gathering spaces, public infrastructure, residential properties, commercial businesses, restaurants and entertainment venues. The document will also address transportation issues related to a main street that also serves as a state highway and a truck route.

64.Downtown is grateful to be part of this exciting time in our city. Expect details of the plan to be made public before the end of the year.

All of these activities are fueled by energetic and talented Fort Smith area residents who are volunteering their time and giving generously of their resources.

John McIntoshExecutive Director, 64.6 Downtown. Past chairman FS Riverfront Development Task Force. Brand, Marketing and Event Consultant. Past owner The McIntosh Group, marketing and advertising agency in Fort Smith.


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