According to a market study on the property that was formerly home to the Majestic Hotel, a thermal water complex and hotel would be the best future land uses, followed by a public easement, retail and restaurant.
A market study of the property was finalized in January 2020 by Design Workshop of Denver, Colorado. It was presented to the City of Hot Springs Board of Directors during a work session following the Agenda Meeting on Tuesday, January 28. Final preparations are now being made to the request for proposals (RFP) for well-qualified developers or development teams for the opportunity to develop the City-owned property. It is the City’s intention to receive proposals that will lead to a developer who presents the best use and plan/layout of such use, and who demonstrates the best financial capacity to undertake the proposed project within a reasonable time frame. The publication and distribution of the RFP will occur on Monday, February 3, and will be available at cityhs.net/rfps. The deadline for proposal submissions is March 30.
The focus of the market study was the 5.11-acre property at 101 Park Avenue, which boasts a “magnificent view” down Central Avenue with high visibility along the downtown corridor all the way to Fountain Street. The Majestic Hotel welcomed visitors to the Spa City for more than a century before closing its doors in 2006. The City purchased the property in 2015 and completed demolition of the structures that remained following a fire in 2014.
The study utilized the SWOT analysis conducted through the community input report, led by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture and Design, and added regional context including demographics, population growth, employment data, visitor preferences and economic incentives.
Four guiding values specific to this unique site, as stated in City Resolution No. 9067, include: enhance economic opportunities, improve the local quality of life and enhance visitor experience, celebrate the natural wonder of the thermal waters and respect the arts, culture and history of Hot Springs. Five additional criteria were considered through this study in applying the feasibility of potential land uses: recoup site costs incurred to date by the City, generate revenue and enhance downtown businesses, be iconic, include visible water and be financially self-sustaining.
According to the authors of the study, “This is a special site with a location and features that do not exist elsewhere in the downtown district. Therefore, the uses on the site must take advantage of and leverage these attributes. Uses that may be feasible but could be located elsewhere (e.g. residential) should not be considered for the Majestic site.”
The best land use for the site, as it checks all of the boxes for the guiding values and additional criteria, is that of a stand-alone thermal water complex with a design that compliments downtown and offers a different experience from the bathhouses and existing hotel spas and thermal baths.
A high-end hotel, with between 75-150 rooms, was next on the recommended uses. The study noted that “a family-friendly, upscale hotel with thermal features that could be enjoyed by both hotel guests and other visitors…would provide a high economic value and enhance the visitor experience.”
The complete Majestic Site Market Study is available at cityhs.net/majestic.