HOT SPRINGS -- Certificates of appropriateness that the Hot Springs Historic District Commission issued to the Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa last week gave the hotel the go-ahead for improvements that its president of operations said represent a "significant investment" in the building, which has commanded upper Central Avenue since 1925.
The certificates allow the hotel to apply for building permits to install new windows in all 656 guest rooms and refurbish exterior brick and stucco. In 2017, the city said an engineering report -- which the hotel's previous owner commissioned after a notice of unsafe conditions that the city issued the hotel in June 2016 -- indicated that water penetration could cause parts of the exterior to fall off after a freeze-and-thaw cycle.
The report said stucco and concrete had the potential to fall from the hotel's signature cupolas, prompting the city to threaten to close the building if repairs weren't completed by November 2017. The city backed off that threat after the hotel's attorney sent a letter in September 2017 urging the preservation of records relevant to a lawsuit the hotel was considering filing against then-City Manager David Frasher and the city in federal court.
Four years later, the hotel is on the verge of a long-awaited restoration. Sky Capital President of Operations Scott Larsen told the Historic District Commission that work could begin within 30 days.
The San Antonio company acquired the hotel, the adjacent Wade Building and several other parcels for $7 million in July 2017, according to the settlement statement that the hotel's tax representative presented to the Garland County Board of Equalization in 2017.
"At the top of the building, the dome tops will be removed," Larsen told the committee. "Brand-new water polyurethane material will be applied. All of that will be repaired, restored, and the tops put back on. The building is going to get a big bath from top to bottom.
Ellis Mumford-Russell, a partner at Post Oak Preservation Solutions, the Austin, Texas-based historic preservation consulting firm the hotel contracted, told the commission that the stucco will be returned to its original color.
"We found the original color of the stucco was likely sort of an ivory color," she said. "Right now it's quite yellow. We're looking at going back with an off-white with a little bit of warmth to it, so an ivory or eggshell color."
The hotel expects to complete the project within two years.