Development near Interstate 49 improves perception of Springdale

There was a time Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse was concerned that passers-by on Interstate 49 didn’t get an accurate picture of all that the town had to offer.
Sprouse sees recent development activity just off I-49 as key in changing that perception.
“For many years, as people travel north and south every day, as people come through Northwest Arkansas for the first time, they travel I-49, and for a long time, you didn’t realize there’s a lot more to Springdale than what you can see from the interstate,” Sprouse told those gathered for the opening of a new BNSF Logistics office in Springdale. “We’re a city of almost 80,000 people. People are shocked when you tell them that, and that we’re larger than Rogers and almost twice the size of Bentonville.”
For all the regionalism that exists in Northwest Arkansas, we do get occasional reminders that the towns are competitive with one another. Individual communities like playing their part in a booming region but also care how they are viewed by outsiders and their neighbors, as Sprouse alluded to last week.
Sprouse thinks the 30,000-square-foot BNSF Logistics headquarters, visible from I-49, helps change the perception travelers might have of Springdale. About 185 people work in the building with room for another 225 employees with plans for a 10,000-square-foot expansion at some point.
Real estate firm Sage Partners helped BNSF Logistics identify and buy the land.
An additional 7.5 acres is available near the BNSF Logistics headquarters at 2710 S. 48th St. Ozark Guidance, a nonprofit that specializes in mental health care, is the seller and naturally will have a hand in selecting who its new neighbors will be.
It is likely that another office building could be built nearby. Chatting with folks from Sage Partners, they envision another 30,000 square feet of office space, perhaps two stories, for a portion of the acreage. Land closer to 48th Street likely will be used for retail projects. Just down 48th Street where it connects to Don Tyson Parkway is a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market.
Directly across Interstate 49 to the west is Arvest Ballpark, the 6,500-seat stadium that houses the Kansas City Royals’ Class AA minor league affiliate. Upcoming projects are making the area considerably more attractive.
A Sam’s Club will open in 2016 at nearby West Sunset Avenue (U.S. 412) and South 56th Street.
Sprouse told those in attendance that construction will probably begin next year on the Northwest Arkansas campus of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. That $70 million facility will be about 225,000 square feet and sit on 37 acres between Don Tyson Parkway and Sunset Avenue.
Also in the works is a 50,000-square foot Washington County campus for Northwest Arkansas Community College. That will be built on about 20 acres.
As previously mentioned here, the development was aided by a bond issue approved in 2012. That vote helped, um, pave the way for about $45 million in street construction. Don Tyson Parkway was extended and you can now enter/exit Interstate 49 from there. Eventually 56th Street near the ballpark, recently widened, could extend to Johnson Mill Boulevard in Johnson.
Those road improvements might not be used by the 70,000 or so who travel the nearby stretch of I-49 on a daily basis. They have helped make possible those projects that are visible from the interstate, much to the delight of Sprouse.
“People who otherwise wouldn’t see parts of Springdale,” he said, “get to see what is going on.”

Article By: Chris Bahn, Arkansas Democrat-Gazzette