Majestic proposal moved to July 20 board agenda


Local developer who bid $ 2,163,128 for the Majestic hotel site does not want to follow two controversial land use topics that preceded him to the board’s agenda from Hot Springs Tuesday night.

The board was to consider an order authorizing the sale of the city’s 5 acres at 100 Park Ave. Tuesday night, but RA Wilson Enterprises chairman and CEO Rick Wilson said on Friday he had requested that the action be postponed to the board of directors on July 20. agenda.

“(The city) tells me that it expects (the land use elements) to take a long time,” said Wilson, who proposed to build The Majestic, an outdoor entertainment venue. with a capacity of 6,000 seats that the Walton Arts Center would operate. “We could be late at night before going up. I think it’s better for the board to be cool when we get there rather than having worked hours and hours on other people’s issues. let them be fresh. This gives us an opportunity to be the first item up. “

City manager Bill Burrough said the city agreed to move the ordinance to the July 20 council business meeting.

Wilson said an addendum to the parking study he presented last month will be available for council to consider before the July 20 meeting. The Peters & Associates, Engineers study commissioned by Wilson, said the combination of on-site, off-street parking, a hotel and a shuttle point can satisfy 135% of the 2,400 spaces needed for a performance sold out.

Ridesharing was not included in the study, but Wilson told the board last month that more than a third of Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion customers use Uber and other ridesharing services to go to and from the Rogers site. He told the board that Uber could make up to 570 pilots available for major events at the Majestic.

A deal with Uber cannot be made until the property is under contract, Wilson said. The real estate contract that the board will review later this month provides for a six-month due diligence period starting after the contract is signed. Hot Springs Planning Board approvals would be sought during the 180 days, and designs, soil reports, an environmental review and civil engineering would be completed by the end of the due diligence period.

The $ 100,000 deposit deposited with a local securities firm becomes non-refundable to RA Wilson Enterprises at the end of the 180 days.

A spokesperson for Uber said last month that the company does not dictate when and where drivers work, but can offer them incentives for hosting large events.

“There isn’t any sort of agreement where the company supplies a certain number of vehicles,” said Javi Correoso. “The drivers who drive for Uber are independent contractors; they are not employed by the company. We have event operations teams working with venues and stadiums. Drivers are encouraged to come to a site if we know there is a high demand.

“We don’t offer a type of service where we guarantee that there will be a certain number of drivers or vehicles available at a site. That just isn’t how our business works.”

Wilson pointed out that carpooling was not included as an offset in calculating parking demand.

“There is 135% of the spaces needed even though we don’t have any carpools at all,” he said. “This is why the study did not take into account the actual Uber percentages that we estimate. The convenience bonus for parking is the use of carpooling.”

Wilson said the Majestic will operate weekends from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The more than 30 performances it would host from March to October do not coincide with peak parking demand hours in the city center, he said.

The parking use summary that Wilson presented last month showed that two of the more than two dozen lots listed in the parking study had all of their spaces filled by 5 p.m. A fraction of the other locations are full by this time, with the utilization rate decreasing as day turns to night.

“I think the perspective people have lost is that we don’t park from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday when there is a peak in traffic,” Wilson said. “We park on weekends and occasionally on Friday and Thursday. Peak traffic is 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. From 5 p.m., when the doors first open, the number of cars in the parking lots drops to almost nothing.

“Parking is important to us and the success of the business. Parking has always been a problem downtown, but it’s a manageable problem. I think we have presented enough data, in addition to this addendum, to prove that the access to the site and the use of the downtown car parks are satisfied. “

A market survey of the Majestic site that the city commissioned from Design Workshop in 2019 determined that an amphitheater / performing arts center was not financially feasible for the site. The report referred to a 2016 study that found a performing arts center in need of a wealthy benefactor to subsidize its capital and operating costs.

“Analysis of this report confirms that an amphitheater and / or performing arts are not feasible on this site, as there is no known source of funding for the development or operation of such installation, ”said Design Workshop.

Wilson told the board that his company would pay the estimated construction costs of $ 12 to 15 million and that it would contract with the Walton Arts Center to operate the venue. WAC operates the Walmart AMP at Rogers, a business that the nonprofit says operates in the dark.

“The Walton Arts Center has submitted a letter of support for this project as it could be a great opportunity for Hot Springs and the area,” said Jennifer Wilson, public relations director for WAC. “With our experience operating not only the Walton Arts Center but also the Walmart AMP, we believe we could help program and manage the venue. Through a combination of ticket sales, concessions and sponsorships, the Walmart AMP has been profitable in its operations since Walton Arts Center began operating it. “

Financial information for the 12 months ended June 2020, the nonprofit filed with the Internal Revenue Service reported income less expenses of nearly $ 3.5 million. The $ 31.31 million in revenue reported by WAC included $ 18.77 million generated by AMP and the WAC Performing Arts Center in Fayetteville in ticket sales and other general sales. Contributions and grants totaled $ 11.84 million.

WAC reported $ 27.82 million in expenses, including more than $ 9 million in artist fees.

“I have absolutely every confidence that this will generate cash flow,” Rick Wilson said of the Majestic. “We are on the inside. Other opponents are on the outside. We don’t do it because it has a chance to fail. We have never failed in anything that we have done, and we will win “do not fail.

“The City of Hot Springs really needs to support this and be delighted that we are prepared to invest in the north end of downtown.”

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