Concepts show the hotel at the south end of Civic Square in downtown Fayetteville

FAYETTEVILLE — The city’s Cultural Arts Corridor Civic Plaza downtown could have a seven-story, 170-room hotel with public space on the ground floor, pending city council approval.

The city’s Arts Council, an advisory group of local artists, saw preliminary concepts for a building at the south end of the square during its meeting on Wednesday. Architect Rob Sharp presented the plans with Peter Nierengarten, the city’s environmental manager.

Developer Brian Reindl is behind the project. Reindl owns adjacent land to the south known as the Metro District building housing Rolando’s Restaurante, Cork & Keg, Prelude Breakfast Bar and other businesses.

The Ramble Civic Plaza, as the arts corridor is known, will replace the 290 parking spaces west of the Walton Arts Center. The city is building a replacement parking deck west of West Avenue near Watson Street to the north. Construction of the Civic Square will not begin until the bridge is complete, likely next spring.

Windsor Aughtry is the hotel developer and consultant for the project. Greenville, SC specializes in commercial real estate and brokerage in the southeastern United States, according to its website. CR Crawford Construction in Fayetteville is hired as a general contractor.

The concepts show a building with two distinct east and west sides. The west side features a more TheaterSquared-like look, with charcoal and gray brick, a roof terrace, balcony, and prefinished steel and metal. The east side looks more like the historic industrial loft the University of Arkansas uses for offices at 340 N. West Ave., with a red brick veneer and painted cement.

The Razorback Greenway’s Frisco Trail that winds through the parking lot would now have a path in front of the Metro District building, allowing users to loop around Civic Square if they wish. A path would also go east of the hotel, across the plaza. The two paths would meet at the northwest corner of the plaza and continue north as they do now.

The concepts show a covered drop-off point for guests and loading on the south side of the hotel building. No specific hotel parking was indicated in the concepts.

The ground floor facing the square would have a walk-through area and an open lobby with a café, restaurant and planned retail space. The city has requested that public restrooms be made available to visitors to Civic Square, Sharp told the council. Sharp asked council members about the possibilities of art and commentary on a general motif for the hotel.

A performance stage and grassy hill would be located immediately north of the hotel’s ground floor, with speakers facing north away from the building, Nierengarten said.

Although Reindl owns the land immediately to the south, the city owns the land where the proposed hotel would be located. City council will have the final say on its use, city attorney Kit Williams said. Reindl would have to buy the land and the council can impose deed restrictions that any future owners would have to follow, he said.

According to a 2019 appraisal report, the entire 2.84-acre Civic Square site had a market value of over $6.1 million. The 15,200 square foot portion proposed for the south end building was valued at $846,000.

The hotel project is in the conceptual phase, and the city and Reindl have not determined the exact property boundaries, said Wade Abernathy, the city’s facilities manager. An independent investigation and assessment would be carried out if the council approved a letter of intent on the project, he said.

Council will have an obligation to determine the most beneficial use of the land for residents and visitors, not the most profitable use for a developer, Williams said.

“You don’t want to be too restrictive with a developer, but on the other hand, they have to be very careful to protect the interests of taxpayers and people who will be coming to the civic square,” he said.

Nierengarten said a proposal could be submitted to the city council in September.

Ted Belden and Greg House, owners of the property immediately north of Civic Square, also plan to build a hotel on the northwest corner of Dickson Street and West Avenue. The couple have reached an agreement with the city to sell part of their land to be used for parking. They reserved the right to build a sixth and a seventh floor above the bridge. House said his plan was to have additional parking on the sixth floor and potentially offices or condominiums on the seventh floor with a rooftop bar.

As part of the agreement with the city, the couple will construct a building at the northern end of Civic Square. Previous concepts, also by Sharp, showed it as a four-story food hall with a design similar to the train depot and freight buildings immediately to the north.

The hotel that Belden and House plans to build is a private company not associated with the city. House said the idea of ​​two hotels in close proximity doesn’t seem like a wise choice.

Council member Sonia Gutierrez Harvey sits on the arts council and praised the design of the proposed hotel for the south end of the civic space, saying it had a good marriage of contemporary elements and historical. She said the concepts seemed to show many possibilities for integrating art into the space.

David H. Henry