City Orders Arkansas Largest Hotel to Make Repairs or be Shut Down

The city of Hot Springs has ordered Arkansas’ largest hotel to make repairs to the recently purchased property or it could shut down this fall, according to the Sentinel-Record.

The newspaper reported, citing a letter from chief building official Mike Scott to Arlington Resort Hotel & Spa General Manger Bob Martorana, that the hotel would be forced to close by Nov. 8 if it was not found in compliance.

Forty-seven rooms with identified safety violations have been ordered unusable until issues are corrected, the letter states. The hotel has 478 rooms.

Among the violations listed during an Aug. 8 inspection were faulty ground-fault-circuit interrupters that protect against electrical shock, and the use of extension cords.

Hotel management was also informed that it has less than a month to correct fire code violations, including more than 20 egress and fire doors that don’t fit their frames properly.

“The Arlington is almost 100 years old, and it’s at a point now where the level of maintenance that is going on isn’t keeping up with the deterioration,” Fire Chief Ed Davis told the Sentinel-Record.

Also of concern is the building’s exterior, which reportedly has cracked plaster that could cause water to get behind and freeze as temperatures drop later this year. That, in turn, could cause portions of the exterior to come lose.

The Arlington was purchased in July by Sky Capital Group LP of Little Rock in a private deal with Southwest Hotels Inc., who had owned and operated the hotel since 1954.

Real Estate: Will This $101 Million Luxury Hotel be Part of SoBro?

The hotel has the potential to further juice SoBro’s revitalization, driven in large part by Pizzuti’s fellow hotel developers. By many measures, Nashville ranked as the nation’s hottest hotel market last year and has maintained a leading position throughout 2015 ( translation: room rates are surging, along with the record numbers of tourists coming to town and convention booking at the two-year-old Music City Center).

The hotel would be Pizzuti’s first project in Nashville, and like many of the other out-of-state developers pouring into Nashville, Pizzuti wants more.

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“Right now, we all know the reasons Nashville is a very attractive place to be. Everyone wants to be here, and we get all that,” said Pizzuti, who is a Vanderbilt University alumnus (along with his two sisters). “We’re in this for the long haul. To us, Nashville is a long-term market. We are looking at other developments and I anticipate we will do more here.”

Pizzuti’s father started the company 40 years ago, and the firm has done a range of development since. Most recently, Pizzuti this year opened a Le Méridien boutique hotel in Columbus, along with a 55,000-square-foot office building. In Chicago, the company’s latest project would be a $100 million apartment tower.

“Candidly, we were attracted first to hospitality here because we think the city is ready for, and would be excited about, a truly luxury hotel. We think this is the premier location for that. It is squarely in the path of future development,” Pizzuti told me.

Pizzuti said he sees his hotel as different from some of the smaller boutique hotels that have been proposed, and the big hotels banking on convention business from Music City Center (including the 454-room Westin, under construction a few blocks up Korean Veterans Boulevard, and the proposed 532-room JW Marriott that would go next to it). He said he expects to attract business from tourists, business travelers, some convention-goers, and also residents of the region looking for a weekend getaway.