Excavators scraping the property bare in the fall of 2016 was the last significant activity at the Majestic Hotel site, but action the Hot Springs Board of Directors took Tuesday night promises to return life to the barren 5 acres that’s sat idle for 15 years.
The board’s 6-1 vote ratified a contract to sell the property to R.A. Wilson Enterprises for the purpose of developing and constructing an outdoor entertainment venue on Park Avenue.
According to the contract, $100,000 of the $2,163,128 sale price will be put in an escrow fund by the end of the week. The deposit becomes nonrefundable at the end of the 180-to-270 day due diligence period.
R.A. Wilson will provide the city a memorandum of agreement with the venue’s operator prior to the close of sale. The local commercial real estate development company has been in discussions with the Walton Arts Center, the owner of the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion in Rogers, to run the 6,000-capacity venue. WAC’s present/CEO submitted a letter of support expressing the nonprofit’s interest in operating the site.
R.A. Wilson President/CEO Rick Wilson said The Majestic could host its first concert by spring 2023.
“I think the board’s vote tonight was the city getting behind the project,” he said after the vote. “I’ve stated the city needs to get behind the project. I think the 6-1 vote tonight was that statement the board made. I think the board’s diligence and insistence on vetting me and our company, our project and our operator made the difference. That’s how a professional project comes about. I think the voters have every reason to be proud of all seven (directors).”
District 1 Director Erin Holliday was the only board member who opposed the sale. She told Wilson she wasn’t opposed to the project but had reservations about approving the sale without the board having more options to consider. The city’s two requests for proposals returned one responsive submission, which the board dismissed in March.
Holliday said she’d like to see the city put out a third solicitation for proposals. The Majestic site is in her district.
“The biggest challenge that I personally have with this, and this is by no means a reflection of the project, because quite frankly I think the project is cool as hell, but I think that when you have the opportunity to parse through several options to find the best, that is the best way to move forward,” she said. “It’s difficult for me to be excited about something when we don’t have anything else to consider at the moment.”
The $2.16 million offer the board accepted represented the solid waste fund’s investment in the site. The cost of purchasing the site, demolishing its condemned structures and clearing it of environmental liabilities was appropriated from the city’s sanitation fund.