After nine months of dirt work, the first concrete pours for Malys Entertainment Center in North Little Rock are forecast to start in August. Three bulldozers and three trackhoes have kept busy molding the hilly topography into developable slopes and grades for this first-phase construction of a mixed-use project.
“Up until three weeks ago, we were working 12-hour days and running seven days a week,” said Ronnie Robertson, managing director at Maly Construction Group.
“1.4 million [cubic] yards will have to be moved to make this thing work like it needs to work.”
The former Wild River Country site at 6820 Crystal Hill Road will become home to a 100,000-SF entertainment center that reflects revamped and expanded plans.
A beer garden, outdoor miniature golf course and two-level bar are added amenities joining the 30-bay T-Time driving range with electronically tracked golf balls, arcade, hyperbowling lanes and restaurant.
“We are anticipating that we will get all the architectural drawings done by July,” said Dr. James Thomas, co-owner and co-developer with his wife, Dr. Smitha Thomas. “We should get done with construction by the end of 2024.”
The July opening of the 55,000-SF Malys Entertainment Center in Conway will serve as a partial preview of the larger North Little Rock project. Its lineup features 24 lanes of hyperbowling, an arcade, laser tag and ax throwing supported by a restaurant and two bars.
In addition to pushing tons of dirt around the 72-acre North Little Rock property assembled by the Thomas family, steady streams of dump trucks have hauled away around 700,000 cubic yards of shale and soil.
These loads were shuttled 14 miles east for fill material on the 152-acre Dollar General Distribution Center site on U.S. 70 about a half-mile east of the Amazon fulfillment center at 13001 U.S. 70.
“On our busiest day we ran up to 120 trucks,” Robertson said. “We’ve slowed down. We’re only running 50 trucks a day now.”
Thomas is giving strong consideration to keep a significant piece of Wild River Country as a visual reminder of the property’s history as an entertainment destination.
The water slide tower with its seven flights of steel and concrete stairs might be retained as a last vestige of the largest water park in Arkansas, which made the scene nearly 40 years ago.
“That’s our intent,” said Ronnie Robertson. “We want to preserve it. That’s the reason it’s still standing.”
However, the site plan for Malys Entertainment Center dictates the tower must be relocated. That would require detaching the tower from its foundational anchor points and moving the structure at least 75 feet with the aid of a crane.
“We tried to incorporate it right where it is, but we just couldn’t make it work,” Robertson said. “We want to move it. We may not be able to.
“From day one, that’s all we’ve talked about: It would be neat to keep this as a landmark. Can we get it done for a cost we can eat?”