River Market hotel | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 5, 2008

River Market hotel

Posted By on Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 8:50 AM


Click image to enlarge

A reader added this in comments to an open line last night, but it bears more attention.

Library director Bobby Roberts is calling for allies in the library's effort to hold down the size of a hotel proposed for a current parking lot on President Clinton Ave. across the street from the River Market. Note that Roberts doesn't oppose 1) a hotel 2) modern architecture or 3) a mix of commercial and hotel use in the building. He's merely arguing for a building whose height doesn't dominate the surrounding older commercial structures (some being adapted for modern use).

I'm with Roberts, as usual. I'd be interested in hearing about traffic flow and parking, too.

Below is 1) the lot targeted for a six-story development and 2) an aloft hotel in Rogers, the type proposed for the River Market.




A development is being proposed for the River Market District that will have an adverse impact on the Main Library campus and the new Arkansas Studies Institute. Please take a few minutes to read this document and examine the attachments [I'm seeking them, too]. I hope you'll help us defeat this proposal. Thank you very much for taking the time to read this and please pass this along to your friends.


On August 29, the Business Section of the Arkansas Democrat Gazette published a story about a proposed aloft hotel to be built adjacent to the Main Library Campus. If approved by the city, the structure will be sandwiched between the Arkansas Studies Institute and the Cox Creative Center (see attached map). The library is opposed to this project and I want to share my concern with you.


Our specific concern is that this proposal violates the height requirement of the Design Overlay District (DOD) which was created in 1996. The DOD exists to make certain that the River Market District's historic character as a small scale commercial district is not destroyed by improper development. One crucial protection is the requirement that no new building be over four stories or forty-eight feet in height. The proposed hotel, which is seven stories and at its highest point will be 90 feet tall, clearly exceeds that limitation. For your review, I have attached elevations that show the proposed building. That structure dwarfs its neighbors and threatens the architectural unity of the River Market District.


Some people have alleged that we are opposed to the project because of either its use or design. Neither statement is true. For your information I have attached an image of a six story aloft hotel in Rogers. These are contemporary buildings, but we have no objection to such style providing it follows the material, massing, roof design, and window requirements in Sec. 36-356 of the DOD. Similarly, we are not opposed to the proposed uses of the building, which are about 10% retail and 90% hotel. Our only concern is the adverse impact that any waiver of the height restrictions will have on both the district and the Main Library Campus.


While the DOD does not address the style of new buildings, it does require that, when remodeling existing buildings, the historic look of the structure be considered. Since the creation of the DOD, the library has been involved in the rehabilitation of three historic buildings - Cox, Geyer & Adams, and Budget Office. In every case we have tried our best to conform to the DOD. We are completing one new building which is a contemporary design but falls within the four story requirement of the DOD. Certainly, another story would have been useful to us, but we chose to stay within the requirements. In every case we have done our best to play by the design rules. We are only asking that these developers follow the same rules.


The River Market has been successful because the DOD has kept the small scale commercial nature of the area largely intact. That gives the district its pedestrian-friendly feel and is in keeping with the intent of the DOD. Furthermore, it is institutions like the library, with almost 400,000 visitors annually; the Clinton Library with an equal number of visitors; the Museum of Discovery; the Historic Arkansas Museum; the Old State House Museum and other cultural attractions that provide the foot traffic for the retail stores and restaurants in the district. This combination of small scale commercial architecture and the foot traffic generated from nearby public institutions works for all of us, and we should not tamper with a successful formula.


As you know, the public library began the first major development in the River Market District. Since then taxpayers have spent almost $38,000,000 developing the library campus and, in the next two years, will spend another $3,000,000 to complete the top floor of the Main Library. We have tried to be good stewards of the public's money, and we have an obligation to protect their investment in downtown Little Rock. The scale of this proposal has a negative impact on our historic buildings and significantly weakens the small scale commercial character of the district.


If you agree that this is a crucial issue, then I hope you will help us in our effort to have developers follow the rules.


You can do that by contacting the River Market District Design Review Committee and asking them not to recommend that the height variance be waived for this project, and attend their meeting on September 9, 2008, to voice your concern about the proposal. The second group that needs to hear from those who support us is the Board of Adjustment, which makes the final decision on granting the variance. Please contact them and plan on attending their meeting on September 29, 2008. (For your convenience I have attached information on both committees).


Please act now. We need your help to stop this development. Call me at 918-3037 if you have any questions.


Thank you.


Bobby Roberts


From the ArkTimes store


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • One dead in shooting at Buffalo National River

    KTHV reports a man was fatally shot Saturday at the Buffalo National River in Searcy County in what is being called an officer-involved shooting. No other details at the moment.
    • Aug 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • Donald Trump declares war on Hillary Clinton's marriage

    Donald Trump gave a remarkable interview to the New York Times yesterday in which he declared open season on the marriage of Bill and Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton's past infidelity. Seems like a loser, but I've been wrong before.
    • Oct 1, 2016
  • Jason Rapert vs. Wikipedia

    Sen. Jason Rapert against the world: Wikipedia edition.
    • Jan 23, 2016

Most Shared

  • Take yourself there: Mavis Staples coming to LR for Central High performance

    Gospel and R&B singer and civil rights activist Mavis Staples, who has been inspiring fans with gospel-inflected freedom songs like "I'll Take You There" and "March Up Freedom's Highway" and the poignant "Oh What a Feeling" will come to Little Rock for the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High.
  • Klan's president

    Everything that Donald Trump does — make that everything that he says — is calculated to thrill his lustiest disciples. But he is discovering that what was brilliant for a politician is a miscalculation for a president, because it deepens the chasm between him and most Americans.
  • On Charlottesville

    Watching the Charlottesville spectacle from halfway across the country, I confess that my first instinct was to raillery. Vanilla ISIS, somebody called this mob of would-be Nazis. A parade of love-deprived nerds marching bravely out of their parents' basements carrying tiki torches from Home Depot.
  • Lynchings hidden in the history of the Hot Springs Confederate monument

    Hot Springs twice erupted into the kind of violence that has its roots in the issues left unresolved by the Civil War, and both times, it happened right where that monument to Confederate soldiers stands today.

Most Viewed

  • Open line and Civil War update

    More Confederacy defenders were on hand in Bentonville against imagined threats to a one of hte Confederate statues put up long after the Civil War to spin a narrative about the noble Lost Cause.
  • Arkansas-linked Charlottesville marcher identified, apologizes to those misidentified

    A man who says he's a former University of Arkansas student now living in New England has identified himself as the person wearing an "Arkansas Engineering" T-shirt in the Friday white supremacist march in Fayetteville. He apologized for involving UA in the story and to the professor misidentified as being the person wearing the shirt.
  • Three dead in WLR

    Three dead in suspected double murder-suicide in West Little Rock.
  • When Johnny Reb comes marching to Hot Springs

    They are assembling for and against white supremacist symbols in Hot Springs today. Photographs by Brian Chilson of the Arkansas Times.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • Wonder why all of a sudden our Navy can't pass another ship without running into…

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • Thanks, perplexed. Wallace late in life apologized for his segregation remarks/actions.

    • on August 20, 2017
  • Re: Open line and Civil War update

    • No, he di'n't! "House Dem introduces measure urging Trump undergo mental exam." For real. http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/hous……

    • on August 20, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation