Arts council sees first concepts for new hotel in downtown Fayetteville

A rendering by local architect Rob Sharp shows an early concept for a proposed hotel on the south side of the planned Civic Plaza site of the Cultural Arts Corridor in downtown Fayetteville. (Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

The city’s arts council will provide information on how art can be incorporated into a new hotel development in downtown Fayetteville.

This week, council members saw the first concepts for a proposed seven-story hotel on the south side of the Ramble Civic Square, part of the city’s ongoing Cultural Arts Corridor project.

The plaza will eventually replace the 290-space car park opposite the Walton Arts Center once construction is complete on a replacement car park nearby.

The arts corridor is funded by $30 million in voter-approved bonds, but some components of the project will require partnerships with private developers, said Peter Nierengarten, the city’s director of environment.

“The bond funding was only enough to build the exterior components of the project, and so the buildings that were shown were always placeholders for partnership developments,” Nierengarten said.

The city launched a request for proposals process in the fall, Nierengarten said, to find a development partner for a building that is being considered at the south end of Civic Square.

Shortly after this process, city officials began negotiations with Fayetteville developer Brian Reindl, owner of the Metro District building just south of Civic Square where Cork & Keg, Rolando’s Restaurante and several other businesses are located. .

A view of the proposed hotel from the northeast. (Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

Fayetteville architect Rob Sharp is leading the hotel’s design, while South Carolina-based Windsor Aughtry is the project’s hotel consultant. Sharp said Windsor Aughtry specializes in projects based in college towns in the southeast of the country. CR Crawford Construction of Fayetteville was selected as the general contractor.

Sharp said the plan is to work with the landscape of the Civic Square, which features natural lighting from a currently covered creek that will create a diagonal channel through the park space along a walkway that will connect the north and south ends of the site.

“We wanted to establish part of our building in direct response to this gateway,” Sharp told the council.

Approaching the hotel from the north, people will first see a restaurant with indoor seating and an outdoor cafe area, alongside a retail facade and a hotel lobby that will feature a walk-through feature so people can see through the building.

The city’s trail system, which currently winds through the West Avenue parking lot, would be realigned through Civic Square, but Sharp said a second route is being designed.

An aerial view of the proposed hotel and site from the municipal plaza. (Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

City-owned public restrooms would also be included on the west side of the building for those visiting the Civic Square space.

Regarding the design of the building, Sharp said the plan was to split the project so it would not be one large building with the same style on all sides.

The east side will resemble some of the historic elements of Dickson Street that once had a railway and manufacturing culture. Sharp said there are a few remnants of this architecture left in the area, such as the Porter Produce building next to Grub’s, the Arsaga freight depot building, and the industrial loft on West Avenue.

“What we’re talking about is a very sincere effort to build a building with the same ethos that these original buildings were built,” Sharp said.

The west side will have a more modern look resembling the new TheatreSquared campus, the Walton Arts Center and the Fayetteville Public Library. This side of the hotel will feature charcoal-colored brickwork, painted steel, aluminum windows and a rooftop bar with balconies and terraces facing the square.

Sharp showed several drawings of the project and said the goal was to be as detailed as possible in order to get buy-in from the city council, which will ultimately decide the fate of the project.

Reindl’s properties own only about a third of the land needed for the hotel. In order to build it as designed, the city council would have to agree to sell the other two-thirds of the property to Reindl.

Proposed hotel floor plan. (Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

Sharp said detailed images are provided so the city council can be comfortable knowing the project won’t feel like a bait and switch later.

“With a public site like this, sometimes nice designs are shown and promises are made at first, but then when it’s built, it doesn’t quite look like what was shown,” Sharp said. . “We want to make sure that what is delivered is what was promised.”

Council member Sonia Harvey, who also sits on the arts council, asked if the planned performance stage for Civic Square would still be included at the south end of the site if a hotel was built. Nierengarten said the stage, which could include programming from the Walton Arts Center, is still planned next to a grassy knoll where audience members could enjoy a small performance. Any necessary loudspeakers would be away from the hotel building, he said.

Arts council member Bob Stafford asked if the multi-storey building at the north end of the square was still under construction on property owned by locals Ted Belden and Greg House. Early concepts for this site showed a four-story multi-purpose building with a type of food hall on the ground floor. The private developers also said they could build a hotel across from Civic Square on the northwest corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue.

Sharp said the hope is that the arts council can provide guidance on how art can be incorporated into the project.

“My client is not an artist, and I am not an artist, so we try to reach out to experts to help determine opportunities for art,” Sharp said.

The developers, he said, would consider unique locations for the art, such as an area above the hotel’s rooftop bar where local artists could design different works of art that look like fish. in an open aquarium.

“Everyone still defaults to murals, which is great, but there’s probably a lot of other things that could be done,” he said.

An aerial view of the plans for the proposed hotel and civic space. The dotted red line marks public property that private developers would need to purchase from the city to build the proposed hotel. (Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

Harvey said she was already a fan of the idea.

“It looks wonderful,” Harvey said. “I really like the materials. It’s a good mix of contemporary and historical.

Havey said the project reminded him of a popular hotel and dining hall off the plaza in downtown Bentonville.

“It’s kind of 21c, but a local vibe,” Harvey told Sharp. “Is that how you would describe it?”

Sharp said that while art will play a role in the design of the space, he wouldn’t go so far as to compare the project to a 21c Museum Hotel.

“21c is like a moonshot for art,” said Sharp. “I don’t think we’re quite there.”

Jessica DeBari, who is president of the arts council, suggested looking to Gladstone House in Toronto for inspiration. The hotel focuses on permanent and rotating installations by local and regional artists rather than showcasing renowned national and international art.

“People specifically go there because they know they’ll have a different experience every time,” DeBari said.

Harvey said that perhaps a small group of artists trusted by the community could serve as an advisory board to provide feedback to developers throughout the design process.

From Bari, it’s a great idea.

“I like the idea of ​​having a standing subcommittee that makes sure there’s good representation from a diverse group of artists,” DeBari said.


View from the northeast

(Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

View from the northwest

(Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

View from the southeast

(Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

View from the southwest

(Courtesy of the City of Fayetteville)

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David H. Henry