Parth Patel has purchased floors 1-15 of the historic, 16-story Medical Arts Building in Hot Springs for nearly $1.18 million and plans to open a hotel there after an extensive renovation.
Patel purchased the floors of the art deco building at 236 Central Ave. through his Trilochan LLC, a subsidiary of VIPA Hospitality subsidiary.
The sellers were Maff LLC, M A Building Hot Springs LLC and MM 15th Floor Medical Arts LLC, led by C. Anthony Taylor, Clay Coffman and Monica McKinney, respectively. The 16th floor is owned by Melanie Chamber and was not included in this sale. Patel said that the owner didn’t respond to his company’s offer. His company is still interested in buying that floor but can develop the hotel without it, he said.
“We're trying to go with a hotel that has more of an upscale feel to it,” he told Arkansas Business on Friday. “So, right now, we are in very preliminary talks with Marriott International to bring the Aloft brand here to downtown Hot Springs and to the Medical Arts Building.”
“The heart of downtown only has about three hotels right now. So we felt that there was a need for more hotel rooms in the downtown area,” Patel said. “... Pre-pandemic, in 2019, Hot Springs National Park got roughly about 8 million visitors. So it's a very premier destination for our state and then for the South.”
Patel said visitor numbers have been improving since Spring Break.
“Luckily, our numbers for the market have been definitely pretty positive, I would say,” he said. “People are ready to come out. They're ready to travel. They're ready to eat at restaurants and stay at hotels.”
Patel said the project is still in the design phase but the preliminary plan is for a hotel with about 100 rooms. Floors 2-15 have been vacant for more than 25 years, and the first floor will be vacated as part of the transaction.
He expects the project to create 100-150 jobs during construction. Then he’ll hire about 30 people to work at the 48,000-SF hotel.
Patel’s company is working to submit renovation plans to the city for approval and permitting. Construction could take 18-24 months.
Patel said 2024 is a conservative estimate for when the new hotel will open,
“Essentially, it's going from an office building to a hotel … We're basically just buying the structure,” he said.
Renovations will include a total revamp of the layout on the upper floors, elevator repair, a new electrical system, new plumbing and a new HVAC system. Everything must be “modernized,” Patel said. And he added that, as with all historic buildings, construction crews could run into unknown issues.
“It will definitely be challenging and complicated. There’s a lot of unknowns here, but I want people to be patient because — a building like this and with the condition that it's in — it definitely won't happen overnight. But we've studied the building, and we'll definitely get it done,” Patel said.
A general manager for the hotel has not been hired yet, but his company will manage its day-to-day operations.
Getting this far has taken years, Patel said. His company owns six hotels in Hot Springs and the 82-room Hotel Frederica at 625 W. Capitol Ave. in downtown Little Rock that is undergoing renovations. Patel, through his Hotel Le Rock LLC, closed on the $1.68 million purchase of that property in November.
Patel moved to Hot Springs in 2005 to manage investments there.
“But, since 2007, we've been actively looking at doing a project in downtown Hot Springs as we felt that there was a great need for hotel rooms in downtown. And, as far as the Medical Arts Building, we honestly have been looking at this building for roughly about five years,” he said.
Patel said his company tried to acquire the building in 2016 or 2017. The current deal took three years to arrange because there were multiple groups of owners with which to negotiate.
Urban Living and Development Inc., led by Amber Henson, brokered the deal.
According to a news release from the firm, the art deco building was designed by Almand and Stuck. Construction began in December 1929 and was completed in 1930.
It was the tallest building in Arkansas until 1960. Known as the “Skyscraper of Health,” the building once housed 55 physicians and five businesses. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.