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story.lead_photo.caption City officials watch as a backhoe operator digs up hazardous material at the site of the former Majestic Lodge Tuesday, August 28, 2018. (The Sentinel-Record/Richard Rasmussen) - Photo by Richard Rasmussen

Hot Springs architect Robert Frager says concepts the public has expressed for the Majestic Hotel property's redevelopment aren't mutually exclusive.

Synthesizing ideas emerging from last month's public planning sessions into a coherent whole is the best strategy for revitalizing the moribund 101 Park Ave. property, he said. Architectural renderings he's drafted include an eight-story, 63-unit apartment building that's the backdrop to a public park honoring the area's heritage and natural history.

"We are suffering in this part of the city," said Frager, who at 88 is still a practicing architect. "There's nothing there to draw people. So what I did was come up with a park. It's a history and tribute to everything that has pertained to Hot Springs up to this point."

Displays depicting native wildlife, symbols of American Indian and pioneer life and the healing powers of the city's namesake waters would front the 5-acre property, catching the eye of motorists and pedestrians approaching the downtown crossroads. Thermal waterfalls would cascade from the upper elevations of the property's northernmost parcel, site of the "yellow brick" building the city demolished while fighting a February 2014 fire.

"Hot Springs water would come down over the natural stone pylons," Frager said. "Water would be rejuvenated, filtered and used again, so we would have minimum water usage. There would also be a wading pool for cooling your feet."

The eight-story building would have two- and three-bedroom apartments with balconies and commercial space on the ground floor. A rooftop clubhouse with a bar and sun deck could be a gathering place for tenants and patrons of the mixed-use space Frager envisions.

"What I'm trying to accomplish is a tribute to our city that would draw people," he said. "We do not need another hotel in this area. My whole idea is to do something that will draw tourists and give the home people something they could be proud of and enjoy. Everybody I've talked to said they've liked the concept."

Deputy City Manager Lance Spicer said Frager presented his renderings to him and City Manager Bill Burrough.

"He is a talented and passionate architect," said Spicer, who's been overseeing the Majestic project since the city condemned and acquired the property in 2015. "He has a very interesting background and life story, too. It's definitely worth sitting down to hear it."

Spicer said he expects the report from last month's public planning sessions to be available soon. The University of Arkansas' Fay Jones School of Architecture is preparing the report and its own renderings of concepts presented at the citizen forum.

"They have been very busy wrapping up their spring semester work and tests," he said. "Their load will lighten considerably (this) week."

The city will issue a request for proposals based on the report and drawings. It has said a subsequent RFP will be issued if responses to the initial solicitation don't meet the high standard city officials have set for the project.


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