FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS (June 27, 2023) — Today at Kessler Mountain Regional Park, OSD, SLS Community, South Cato Springs Holdings, LLC and the City of Fayetteville proudly come together to commemorate the groundbreaking for infrastructure at South Cato Springs.
The project began with the goal of creating a home for SLS Community – a Fayetteville 501(c)(3) established to provide neurodivergent adults with the essential resources to thrive – and through a collaborative process, later evolved into a neighborhood that will enhance the quality of life for the broader community in Northwest Arkansas.
OSD’s plan for the new mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood includes much-needed workforce housing, a town square, a center for the University of Arkansas Medical School (UAMS), urban agricultural areas and open recreational spaces that tie into the region’s bike paths. The project commences with a $3 million Community Project Funding award from the federal government secured by Congressman Steve Womack (AR-3), and a matching $3.48 million grant from the City of Fayetteville, to kick off initial sewer and road infrastructure.
OSD’s ‘outside-in’ approach for designing the architecture, mobility and landscape is deeply rooted in the innate beauty of the Ozarkian environment; nature informs the layout of buildings, streets and recreational spaces, while also providing a rich resource for local and sustainable building materials. The design embraces principles of accessibility and inclusivity, supports the growth of fresh food, and prioritizes pedestrian and bicycle networks over cars—the master plan for South Cato Springs unfolds as OSD’s testament to mindful urbanism.
“As Northwest Arkansas undergoes significant growth, we believe new development must find a way to enhance the quality of both the human experience and the natural environment. South Cato Springs presents an exceptional opportunity to create a new paradigm for inclusive living where neurodivergent adults can live and thrive in harmony with nature and the broader community, while honoring and revealing the beauty of the Ozarks.
From Fayetteville to Bentonville, Northwest Arkansas is a rich constellation of human-scaled cities that combines to become a national powerhouse of culture, economy and innovation. With South Cato Springs underway, the region is set to gain a new star in this constellation that will set a world-class standard for how people and nature, biodiversity and neurodiversity, can co-exist and thrive,” said Simon David, Founding Principal and Creative Director, OSD.
The mission for the SLS community in South Cato Springs is to create an innovative “live, work, play” community with specialized housing and services alongside vocational training, educational programs, and recreational activities that make it accessible and affordable for neurodiverse adults to reach their full potential. In this way, the SLS Community is highly integrated within the overall master plan as a means to cultivate a sense of home, well-being and connection for SLS residents within the larger social and natural communities.
“We’ve actively sought input from community stakeholders to understand the needs of the region, and with OSD’s design and planning expertise, their feedback has been mindfully integrated into a neighborhood that will provide workforce housing to Northwest Arkansas and serve as a platform for SLS Community,” said Matt Zakaras from South Cato Springs Holdings, LLC.
Ashton McCombs, Executive Director of SLS Community added, “our hope is that the service, employment, housing, and community resources holistically brought together throughout the OSD design will help address the disparity of opportunity that too often exists for neurodivergent adults.”
Town Square Creek | Image by OSD
OSD’s master plan prioritizes diversity in both building typology and landscape topography, from the new mixed-use town square to urban farming and viticulture. The variety and vibrancy of the built environment create a thriving experience for neurodiverse assisted living communities, single family and multi unit housing, hospitality programs, event spaces and community parks.
Pedestrians and bicyclists can also enjoy easy accessibility and an intimate connection with nature through the extensive network of walking paths and bike trails that meander through woodlands and creeks. Designed with nature as the underlying priority, OSD’s approach to circulation, minimized vehicular traffic and direct connection to major regional arteries is a harmonious blend of urban and natural environments.
Site Plan | Image by OSD
OSD’s involvement in this landmark project highlights the studio’s multidisciplinary expertise in architectural design and planning, landscape design and planning, as well as urban design. Prior to South Cato Springs, OSD recently celebrated two groundbreakings: 326 Rockaway Avenue, an affordable housing project in Brooklyn, New York and the Alice Walton School of Medicine, a medical education facility in Bentonville, Arkansas.