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Entertainment district opens at Chaffee Crossing, new apartments planned

The signs are up, the cups are in and Fort Smith has used the new permanent entertainment district in the historic district at Chaffee Crossing with a weekend celebration at Fort Smith Brewing Co.

The Fort Smith Board of approved permanent entertainment districts Sept. 1 for downtown and Chaffee Crossings. Daniel Mann, executive director and CEO of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment District, told the FCRA board of directors at a meeting Thursday (Sept. 25) that the signs were up clearly marking the district and the entertainment district would be in use during the third anniversary celebration of Fort Smith Brewing Co. Saturday (Sept. 25).

The 2019 Arkansas General Assembly adopted Act 812, which makes it lawful for cities to designate “entertainment districts” where patrons can walk outside a bar or restaurant with an open container of alcohol for public consumption. The act intends to “promote hospitality and tourism by establishing areas of a city or town that highlight restaurant, entertainment, and hospitality options,” Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman noted in a memo.

The act specifically allows for the consumption of alcohol in public when it is consumed within the parameters of a designated entertainment district. Though the act allows for public consumption of alcohol outdoors in these districts, it does not “relax or supersede” laws or regulations dealing with alcohol including public intoxication or minor in possession of alcohol.

The Fort Smith Board of Directors approved on Aug. 4 an ordinance to allow for a permanent entertainment district at Chaffee Crossing. The ordinance changed the “temporary” entertainment district at The HUB at Chaffee Crossing established when the board approved the temporary entertainment district on March 17. The temporary districts remain in place.

Mann said 16-ounce plastic cups

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