Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer
A plan for a west Fayetteville development that includes a new, 65-acre park park on the land formerly home to Razorback Golf Course was approved by the Fayetteville City Council on Tuesday.
The council voted unanimously to adopt a Commercial Planned Zoning District (C-PZD) for the property, which will allow for a 602-unit apartment complex, some commercial development, and a large “conservation-themed” park roughly twice the size of the recently-expanded Gulley Park, and nearly three times the size of Wilson Park.
Keith Tencleve with the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board said during Tuesday’s meeting that west Fayetteville is in need of a park of this type. He said the parks board voted unanimously to recommend approval of this project because the existing parks in west Fayetteville are not of the same caliber as Gulley Park, Wilson Park and Walker Park, and this project would help solve that problem.
Ted Jack, the city’s park planning superintendent, gave a presentation to the council last month about the parks portion of the proposal, and said the area would help to fill in a gap in parks on the west side of town.
“When we are looking at gap analysis…you can see we have a weak spot in this portion of the city,” Jack said while showing a map of the existing parks in Fayetteville. “So as you are planning for new parks, those are really the areas that make sense to go and put a new park.”
Jack said the new park could serve several recreational needs frequently requested by Fayetteville residents, inclucing walking, jogging, picnicking, bike riding, barbecuing, hammocking, gardening, nature programs, fishing, and others.
The land is currently owned by locals Laura and Craig Underwood, who purchased the property in 2017. Their plan at the time, Underwood said, was to hang on to the property for 10-15 years as an investment.
Craig said he attended meetings organized by the Walton Foundation a few years ago that led him to begin considering the possibility of using a portion of the property as park land.
“I have so many fond memories of growing up and spending time at Gulley Park, and spending time with our kids there as they were growing up,” Craig told us back in April. “We started discussing the feasibility of donating a portion of the property for a big park in that area of town.”
Underwood, who was involved in the development of The Cliffs apartment complex back in the 1990s, said throwing around ideas for the property led to the idea to develop a 602-unit apartment complex on a portion of the land, along with some Neighborhood Services commercial property as part of a planned zoning district.
The development would require the Underwoods to donate around 12 acres of land, or about $600,000 through the city’s current parkland dedication ordinance, but Craig said they liked the idea of a larger park.
“The more we started looking at it, we decided as long as we can have 602 units on the hill, it doesn’t matter if it’s on 30 acres or 50 acres,” he said. “And if we can do it on 30, that means we have more room for a park.”
About 28 acres of the land would be zoned for the apartment complex, 17 acres would be zoned to allow for small shops or retail, and another 17 acres would be set aside for small office developments.