Conway's historic district commission Monday night will consider approval of a new building to replace two existing downtown buildings, making way for a multi-use project set to include a steakhouse bearing professional golfer John Daly's name.
The 4,500-square-foot steakhouse on the ground floor and at least five second-floor lofts above the restaurant along Front Street, just north of Toad Suck Square, are planned to open in time for the week of the Masters Golf Tournament this spring.
Sam McFadin, the project's CEO, said safety is the primary reason behind the application for the new building. Plans call for razing the existing buildings that formerly housed a shoe store and a Pentecostal church in exchange for the construction of one building to occupy the space.
"More than anything, we want to make sure that it is structurally sound," he said of the developers' change in restaurant and housing planning.
According to commission chairman Steve Hurd, the application refers only to the new construction element of the project. Demolition approval requires a permit issued by the city, he said.
The existing buildings were condemned after cracks were found in leaning walls before a reprieve was granted by the city in 2011.
Citing "the expense to preserve and repair the structural integrity of the buildings," project leaders are proceeding with a plan to demolish the buildings, according to an application sent to the historic district commission.
Brandon Ruhl of North Little Rock-based Taggart Architects, the project's architectural firm, said developers found "major structural" issues that include having to tear down a north wall at a cost-prohibitive rate.
Monday's meeting could mean final approval of the new construction process and next steps such as final design plans, material selection and permit applications, he said.
If the application is denied before the historic district commission, McFadin said he and fellow project leaders will "go back to the drawing board" with continued determination to "revamp" the area in downtown Conway.
Ruhl said the exterior of the new building would reflect the existing structures, with a "historic masonry facade," adding that the interior of the restaurant will maintain most, if not all, of its original design scheme.
The application provides an estimated construction period of January through May.
Overall cost of the newly constructed building could reach the $2 to $2.5 million range, according to the latest estimates.
ArkansasOnline reported in October that the John Daly's Steakhouse project is the launch of what McFadin hopes will be a franchise, with 10 locations planned in the next five years, including one in Fayetteville.