A local developer makes a pitch for the Majestic site

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The local developer who offered to build an outdoor entertainment venue on the site of the Majestic Hotel is unwilling to operate the facility, telling Hot Springs’ board on Tuesday that his company was working on a deal. operating with the Walton Arts Center in Northwest Arkansas. .

RA Wilson Enterprises President and CEO Rick Wilson told the board that WAC, the nonprofit that owns and operates the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, wishes to operate the Majestic, the venue for A capacity of 6,000 people proposed for the 5 acres the city owns at 100 Park Ave. Wilson said the Hot Springs location would be a twin site of the larger site in northwest Arkansas and provide an anchor for the north end of downtown.

City Manager Bill Burrough told the board that his July 6 agenda will include an action point on Wilson’s $ 2,163,128 offer for the abandoned property the city condemned in 2015 and for for which it received an environmental authorization from the State at the end of 2018.

“We certainly wish to be the owner of the property, the developer of the property, the builder of the property, however, we do not wish to be the operator of the venue,” Wilson said during his over two hour presentation. .

WAC would lease the property to Wilson’s company and pay him a percentage of operating income, Wilson said. He provided the Board of Directors with a letter of support from Peter Lane, President and CEO of Walmart AMP. He was unable to attend Tuesday’s working session, as Wilson said it coincided with the WAC’s annual board meeting.

“After hearing about the plan to develop an outdoor entertainment venue at the site of the old Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs, we became very interested,” Lane said in his letter. “Our team and the developer team have engaged in ongoing dialogue and meetings with the aim of planning the development and operation of the proposed site. We are impressed with the concept of the planned development as well as the experience of the developer and are excited to hear more about the economic and cultural impact this location would have on Hot Springs.

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“If approved by the Board of Directors, our experienced team would work with the city and the community at large, as well as our professional network, to create an appropriate variety of programs that would meet Hot Springs’ needs and help stimulate economic growth. associated with a project of this magnitude.

Wilson told the board that if he approves the real estate deal he presented on Tuesday, construction could begin next March, with the venue hosting its first performance in March 2023.

Several directors have asked for assurance that Wilson’s proposal will be carried out. City attorney Brian Albright told council he will work with RA Wilson’s executive vice president and legal counsel Larry Yancey to commemorate that assurance in the real estate contract the council will review next month.

“We will be working on language to give the board a level of assurance that this project as presented will be the completed project,” Albright told the board.

Yancey said a $ 100,000 deposit would be deposited with a local securities firm within days of contract approval. A six-month due diligence period would ensue, leaving time for designs, soil reports, an environmental review, civil engineering, and Hot Springs Planning Commission approvals.

“We’re going to get really serious really quickly to show how important this project is to us,” Yancey told the board. “We also asked for a 90-day extension if necessary. We don’t want to go through part of the due diligence and have a time frame beyond us where we can’t go any faster due to circumstances beyond our control. believe we will be able to do our due diligence in six months, but if there is a problem hanging up, we ask for a 90 day extension. ”

According to the contract presented on Tuesday, the transaction would close within 15 days of the expiration of the due diligence period, with RA Wilson paying the city the deposit and the balance of the purchase price of $ 2.16 million. The deposit becomes non-refundable to the buyer at the end of the due diligence period.

“The assurance that we are going to continue and develop this is that we will have completed the planning,” Wilson told the board. “We will have completed the design. We will have up to $ 1 million invested in this property, and we will not own it. It will be under contract.

“The risk is on us. We do our due diligence. We design it. We go through the planning. We get the planning approval. We get the building permits. According to the contract, within 15 days, we are closing the property. We will be ready to start construction immediately. Knowing that this is going to happen is due to the process itself. “

Wilson told the board that the project had an estimated cost of around $ 15 million and provided letters of reference from Simmons, Citizens and Arvest banks.

“I have now been called by all the banks in Hot Springs,” he told the board of directors. “Everyone wants to lend money to this project. I don’t know if we’ll need to borrow money, but if we do decide to do it, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”

Ring

The Majestic site sits in a corridor zoned for commercial activities, but the low density residential areas, or R-3s, are to the north, east and west. District 1 manager Erin Holliday, who represents downtown and upscale neighborhoods on city council, asked Wilson if the sound consultants he hired had conducted sound surveys in areas with similar topographies.

She told him that she could hear music in bars on Upper Central Avenue at her Whittington Valley home.

“It’s a valley phenomenon that I can hear on my porch,” she said. “The way the sound travels through our valley, it can be surprising. I’m not near the city center, but I can hear things much more clearly at home than I can very near the hall. “

Wilson invited Holliday to join him when acoustics consulting firm Jaffe Holden does their sound investigation. The sound radiation pattern resulting from the survey will show the decibel levels at certain distances from the site. Wilson told the board that Jaffe Holden said the sound would not reach neighboring properties, including St. Mary of the Springs Catholic Church at 100 Central Ave.

“I guess we all know where the statue of St. Mary is across the street is,” Wilson told the board. “They tell me you’re not going to be able to hear that from over there.”

RA Wilson Enterprises President and CEO Rick Wilson presents his proposal for the site of the Majestic Hotel on Tuesday at City Hall. – Photo by Tanner Newton of The Sentinel-Record


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