Crawford County is integral to the development of Chaffee Crossing, a 7,000-acre community on the eastern edges of both Barling and Fort Smith, according to the director of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority.

"We mean a lot to each other," Ivy Owen told the Crawford County Leadership class Jan. 30. "Chaffee Crossing offers jobs to residents of Crawford County and Crawford County offers Chaffee Crossing a workforce."

Owen pointed out Arkansas 59 goes both ways and the Arkansas River is no longer a boundary.

"The decommission of the Fort Chaffee land has provided a great opportunity for the region and the state," Owen said. "The development of the 7,000 acres is a shining star of economic development in the state."

During 2013, developers made capital investments in Chaffee Crossing totaling more than $35 million that will create 150 new jobs.

"The uses of the properties sold range from multi-family to large commercial developments," Owen said.

Phoenix Metals and Affinity Chemical are building new production facilities at Chaffee Crossing to serve clients throughout the regional. Expansions of current businesses include Mars PetCare and Umarex USA, representing nearly $60 million in capital investments that will create more than 100 jobs.

Owen said Chaffee Crossing embraces a land use plan that allows flexibility for the ever changing market.

"Protecting green spaces and ensuring earth-friendly construction are a priority for all phases of development," he said. "The vision encompasses a traditional neighborhood development which allows residential, retail and commercial areas to merge with green space, trees and natural landscaping that dissolves borders."

Walking trails connect residential areas to mixed-use and industrial districts. Chaffee Crossing includes a museum district, Janet Huckabee Nature Center, Wells Lake and neighborhood parks.

Chaffee Crossing also includes six miles of Interstate 49 that one day will connect Canada to New Orleans. The nearly completed I-49 at Chaffee Crossing includes three interchanges with 12 corners. "All but two are sold," Owen said.

During 2013, Owen said FCRA has been $6.1 million in record-breaking revenue for the third year in a row with a potential development investment for property sold of $150 million. Capital improvements funded by FCRA last year at $2.2 million.

Ground breakings in 2013 included Fort Smith fire station No. 11, Stoneshire at Chaffee Crossing, Stonebrook at Chaffee Crossing, APAC Central - Chaffee Commercial Properties, The Reserve Apartments, Chaffee Crossing Real Estates, Bost Inc. and Phoenix Metals.

Six churches chose Chaffee Crossing as their new home, including First Baptist Church of Fort Smith which bought 60 acres at Massard Road and I-49.

In order to develop Chaffee Crossing, the redevelopment authority board has to work with two counties, three cities and three school boards, Owen said.

"It has not been easy," he said, "but we have done it."