New buyer plans to try development on Dickson Street land

A lot at the corner of Block Avenue and Dickson Street is under new ownership.

File photo

One of the most prominent undeveloped intersections in the downtown area has a new owner.

According to Washington County real estate records, a company called 151 Dickson Development, LLC recently purchased five parcels totaling around 1.4 acres at the corner of Block Avenue and Dickson Street. The property sold for $4.4 million, and the sale closed on June 23.

Longtime local businessman Mel Collier, who owns Collier Drug Store across the street, sold the property after purchasing it in 2014 for $2.7 million.

According to a Talk Business & Politics story published last week, the buyers are a group of investors led by James Chase, a University of Arkansas graduate now living in Colorado.

Tim Stein, an executive broker for Bassett Mix who represented Chase in the purchase of the property, told Talk Business his client plans to construct a mixed-use building on the land.

“The zoning for the property [Main Street/Center] is pretty lax, so we want to use it to its full advantage,” Stein told the paper.

The new group isn’t the first with plans to develop the property.

Collier initially purchased the land with plans to use it for a retail development or future parking facility. He backed off and put the property up for sale after he said city officials weren’t receptive to his plans.

The land was under contract in 2014 with Specialized Real Estate Group, a local development company who also envisioned a mixed-use project on the lot. The company abandoned those plans after Block Avenue resident and site neighbor Nina Shirkey mobilized to prevent the development. Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Marsh brought forth a city ordinance with an emergency clause designed to immediately prevent tall structures from being built next to residential properties as a way to “preserve and protect historic homes and the historic nature” of Fayetteville’s downtown and entertainment areas. An ordinance was eventually passed that requires a multifamily, commercial, office, parking deck or mixed-use structure taller than 24 feet to be built at least 15 feet from the side and rear property lines of single-family homes in the Downtown General or Main Street Center zoning districts.

Before that, the land was the proposed site for a nine-story hotel and condominium project called Divinity on Dickson planned by developer Brandon Barber. That project was also met with opposition from residents who said it was too big for the area and would cause traffic problems that could destroy the vibe of Dickson Street. Barber was denied a permit by the Planning Commission, but the project was approved by aldermen during an appeal to the City Council. The council’s decision sparked a lawsuit from Mike Shirkey, but the project fell through, with Barber citing financial issues related to the project.

Stein told TalkBusiness that the new owners are about three years away from any development of the land.