New hotel for NLR | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

New hotel for NLR

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2008 at 3:01 PM

The New Argenta Fund announced today plans for an 8- to 12-story, 130-room $28 million hotel in downtown North Little Rock on the site of the former Rye Furniture store. The projected completion date is 2010.

It's a lot easier to build an eight-story $28 million hotel in NLR, apparently, than it is in LR's River Market District. Apparently Mayor Pat Hays didn't phone Warren Stephens first to see if this hotel might create unacceptable competition for Stephens' Capital Hotel. (That's the key sticking point on a proposed Aloft Hotel in Little Rock.) And Hays  doesn't seem concerned that the hotel will be at least four, and maybe eight, stories higher than the existing Argenta District four-story height limit. Seven stories has so far been too much for Little Rock city fathers for the proposed Aloft.

I spoke with John Gaudin of the New Argenta Fund and got a little additional information. Other investors, as yet unrevealed, will join the fund in the project. He said the group is in talks with several hotel operators, but isn't yet ready to announce a brand. He did say that the group had spoken with Aloft Hotels, but they were no longer in the mix.

He said a variance from historic district height limits would be required, but that the hotel design would follow "smart growth concepts" -- maximizing the frontage of the building, reducing surface parking and increasing density downtown.

Gaudin said the project likely couldn't go forward without public participation -- that is, Tax Increment Financing of public parking and meeting space. In this, the hotel would use normal property tax payments -- mostly a benefit to public schools -- to pay for the cost of these public improvements. He said he couldn't estimate the cost of that public contribution yet. A firm proposal should be before the City Council before the end of the year. The North Little Rock School Board will be asked an opinion, too. It has generally been resistant to endorse TIF projects because of the loss of property tax revenue for the period up to 25 years necessary to pay off bonds to pay for infrastructure. But the School Board's opinion is only advisory.

Developers to Open New $28 Million Hotel in North Little Rock Argenta District Hotel will feature 130 rooms and 25,000 square feet of meeting/event space
 
North Little Rock, Ark. (Dec. 3, 2008) ­ New Argenta Fund announces the opening of a new $28 million hotel in late 2010 in North Little Rock¹s Argenta District. The hotel will be built in the former location of Rye Furniture at the corner of Broadway and Maple streets, near the North Shore Riverwalk and Dickey-Stephens Ballpark.
 
The hotel will feature eight to 12 stories, 130 guest rooms, 25,000 square feet of meeting/event space and 15,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space. A national hotel brand will be announced in the coming months. A parking deck with 300 spaces will also be built adjacent to the hotel.
 
³This is a needed addition to the growing Argenta District,² said John Gaudin, partner with New Argenta Fund, which is part of the development team. ³We wanted to bring in a concept that wouldn¹t compete with the neighboring Wyndham Hotel, but complement it. This hotel will help continue our growing tourism base and will offer needed jobs to area residents.²
 
The hotel will feature extensive meeting and business conference space ­ something many North Little Rock business owners have been urging city officials to add downtown.
 
³Adding to our downtown overnight-stay options will give us more opportunities to have people on our streets and on their feet ­ to enjoy all of the entertainment, business, educational and leisure activities that North Little Rock has to offer,² said North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays. ³We¹re excited about all of the city¹s growth and this announcement. Our downtown is rapidly becoming a destination place to live, learn, work, play, and now with more options, to visit.²
 
Construction on the hotel will begin in summer 2009.

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