Hotel

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.

The purchase price included the more than $1.9 million that Sky Capital paid for the hotel's personal property -- items such as equipment, furnishings, and the hotel's name and brand equity.

"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.

"The decorative tiles up high on the building will be left in place and sealed with a preservation sealant. As we come down the building, any items that need to be repaired will be repaired. The building gets a bath top to bottom, and then anything in the process is going to get restored."

Structural engineer Bryan Wood, who's consulting on the project, told the commission that damaged stucco will be replaced with a lime-based, self-healing stucco that resists cracking.

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."

Larsen said the brick exterior will be cleaned, and cracked mortar between the bricks will be replaced. The terra-cotta roof between the cupolas will be removed, providing access for repairs addressing water penetration.

"If any of those are broke, we have a company that replicates these terra-cotta tiles," Larsen said. "They'll be replaced back in the place they were in."

Guest room windows will be replaced with Andersen Commercial aluminum wood-clad windows. The National Park Service conditioned its approval of Historic Preservation Tax Credits on the new windows matching the color of the existing windows.

"The replacement windows may not be white but must match the color of the existing historic windows which appears to be gray or a taupe color," the city's planning and development department said in its staff report.

The hotel expects to complete the project within two years. Renovations will include reconstructing the stairs leading to the main entrance and the Central Avenue side stairs, improvements that the commission authorized last month, and replacement of 20 flat roof areas, which recently received administrative approval from the city.

Source : https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/oct/26/plans-touted-for-hot-springs-hotel/

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