FAYETTEVILLE — Redevelopment of the former Hi-Way Inn property is underway on North College Avenue.
Crews on Tuesday began demolition work at the 0.6-acre site across from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Regional Northwest campus.
The former motel was most recently used as public housing by the Fayetteville Housing Authority, and was scheduled for renovation, but instead was sold by the authority’s development nonprofit to recoup losses related to the pandemic.
The City Council last month approved a rezoning request for the property, which is now owned by AMR Architects.
The Housing Authority in 2019 successfully rezoned the site from a commercial thoroughfare district to a community services district so the former motel rooms could be used for public housing. The community services district allows apartments, but prohibits hotels without a conditional use permit.
The new urban thoroughfare zoning district will once again allow the property to be used as a hotel.
The district was designed for commercial uses, residential uses or a mix of the two. It allows the full spectrum of residential uses – from single-family homes to apartments – and on the non-residential sides, it allows everything from a restaurant to a big-box retail center.
Like the previous district, urban thoroughfare has no density cap, but does allow buildings that are at least 15 feet from the road to be built up to seven stories high. The previous district had a height limit of five stories.
Officials have said since the property sits on a major transportation corridor, the new district is a good fit. With its allowance for high-intensity, mixed-use development, the urban thoroughfare district is exactly what city planners envision for College Avenue as part of the 71B Corridor plan, which includes a series of property rezonings and street improvements. The hope is for more residential uses along College Avenue where they have not been for decades, which has led to a separation of land uses.
The corridor plan’s aim is to improve the road’s economic vitality, address congestion issues, increase affordable housing, make the stretch safer and more convenient for all modes of travel, and create a more attractive front door to Fayetteville’s downtown and adjacent neighborhoods.
Adam Day with AMR Architects last month said he’s excited to be part of the long-term corridor plan and looks forward to redeveloping the site to a more urbanized environment.
“We think it will bring back this property that has been neglected for some time,” said Day.
The site is also home to Cafe Rue Orleans restaurant. Day said the idea is to incorporate the restaurant into a mix of uses, including a small motel component.