Texarkana Convention Center Showdown Ends in Dueling Developments

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 12:00 am  

Harold Boldt, left, and Kenny Haskin said the planned water park on the Arkansas side will be a “game changer.” (Photo by Luke Jones)

"We found one locally," Boldt said. "We were trying to keep him quiet, since we have this competition between Texas and Arkansas. We were afraid if we let out this proprietary information, [Texas] would try to influence that person not to do it."

But the investor - Hiren Patel, a doctor of internal medicine - didn't go to Texas.

"He agreed," Boldt said, and Patel's investments were leveraged with the city's 3 percent advertising and promotion tax. But the majority of the funding for the site, Boldt said, came from Patel's pockets.

"If we were trying to finance this on our own, there's no way we could do it," Boldt said.

The 27,000-SF, $18 million Holiday Inn and convention center is now under construction and expected to be completed by May 2013. It's already surrounded by several hotels, including the aforementioned Best Western and Holiday Inn Express, and more hotels are popping up in the vicinity. A Copeland's restaurant opened nearby, and property around the convention center is being marketed to businesses.

Then there's the water park: Holiday Springs Water Park, a $40 million project attached to the convention center business park, broke ground this month and is slated to be completed by May 2013. Boldt called the park a "game changer."

According to Patel, the park's capacity will be around 3,000 visitors, and it will have features like a wave pool, a lazy river, a ride tower with five water slides and a capsule launch system.

"It will help the area tremendously," Patel said in an email. "It will be surrounded by six hotels and that will help it further!"

The Competition

Now that both sides are prepared for convention-goers, the question is what a city competing against itself for events will look like.

"We ... feel our packages for conventions and such are very competitive," Haskin said of the Arkansas side venue. "We feel we will be extremely competitive. So much so, that, let's say we don't want to hurt them, but it will be difficult for them to meet the package that we will put together."

The Arkansas convention center will be the venue for the 2014 Governor's Conference on Tourism, which Boldt said would bring between 600 and 1,000 visitors.



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