Demolition of building on former Mountain Inn site to begin

Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

A dilapidated building located at one of the entrances to downtown Fayetteville will soon be torn down.

A North Little Rock contractor has applied for a permit to remove the remaining structure left over from the old Mountain Inn property located on Center Street, city officials confirmed Monday.

Construction fencing was placed around the property late last week, and the demolition permit was filed on April 8.

Johnathan Curth, the city’s development services director, said there have been ongoing code compliance issues with the property for several years about securing or removing the building because of safety concerns around the deteriorating structure.

Curth said the owners have made multiple attempts to secure the building, but its condition has recently worsened.

Concerns about some of the marble falling off of the building is of particular concern, he said.

Justin Stewart with Car-Son Construction, LLC of North Little Rock applied for the permit to remove the structure, and filed reports on asbestos and lead-based paint on the building with the city last week.

Stewart’s company handles demolition work across the state.

He said his team will continue to assess the project in the coming days to determine how to best remove the building safely, and he expects the demolition work to begin in the next week.

Stewart said he isn’t aware of what the building owner plans to do with the property once his team has finished the work.

“We’ve just been hired for the demo,” he said.

The Mountain Inn property is currently owned by NWAP, LLC, a company with a registered address in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Mark Carney, a Mountain Home attorney listed as the registered agent for the company and incorporator/organizer for NYAP, LLC, died in December, according to an online obituary. Carney’s office told the Flyer in 2014 that he’d registered the company on behalf of an unnamed client.

The Arkansas Secretary of State’s office told us in an email Monday that no new registered agent has been appointed for NWAP, LLC since Carney’s death, and that the members for the company are not public.

“The information that is displayed on our website is all the information we have,” the agent wrote.

Carney said in 2016 that the owners had no specific plans for the property at the time, though they would explore a mix of hotel, retail, and office space for the site.

NWAP, LLC purchased the property from the Bank of Fayetteville in 2014 for $1.1 million.

The site has an interesting history.

The property was once home to the Mountain Inn, a 95-room hotel at the corner of College and Mountain Street. It was expanded in the 1960s from its original location on Center Street to include retail space and a lobby on the first floor, a six-story parking garage, and a third-floor outdoor swimming pool with views of the Boston Mountains to the southeast.

The hotel was closed in 1998, and sat empty for several years until local developers John Nock and Richard Alexander proposed building an 18-story hotel called Renaissance Tower on the property.

In 2005, the Fayetteville City Council formed the state’s first TIF (tax-increment financing) district, a taxpayer-backed financing mechanism that borrowed against anticipated property tax growth in the district in order to pay for the demolition of the Mountain Inn. In return, Nock and Alexander were to build the downtown hotel by September 2007.

Once the building was demolished, however, the hotel never got off the ground. A construction crane towered over a gaping, fenced-in hole for about two years before a parking lot was finally built over the site.

The project was ultimately abandoned due to lack of financing, resulting in the developers paying $300,000 in damages to the city for not fulfilling their commitment.