No decision yet on contract for new downtown hotel in Fayetteville

A rendering shows a concept for a proposed hotel next to the planned civic plaza site in downtown Fayetteville. The image shown is looking south across the Upper Ramble. (City of Fayetteville)

FAYETTEVILLE — It will be another three weeks before discussions can continue on a plan to build a new downtown hotel across from the Walton Arts Center.

City Council members on Tuesday tabled a resolution authorizing Mayor Lioneld Jordan to sell 0.5 acres of city land for the project to Reindl Properties for $1,247,455.

The proposal will return to the council on Nov. 7.

Council members last year approved a letter of intent with Brian Reindl for a seven-story hotel next to the Upper Ramble where a civic plaza is planned across from the arts center.

That plan included a 134-room hotel with 45 underground parking spaces, and called for 66 valet spaces that would be spread around the downtown area using the city’s paid parking spaces.

The proposal has since been updated to reduce the hotel’s room count to 110-115 rooms. Reindl said he’s also recently purchased land at South Gregg Avenue and Center Street for a 65-space valet parking lot.

Carl Kernodle, Reindl’s development partner, said the group has hired a branding firm to help name the hotel, and the plan is to find a national soft brand hotel partner for the project.

Kernodle said the ground level would include public spaces that face the new park the city plans to build as part of the Upper Ramble.

Aside from the hotel’s lobby, a coffee shop and cafe are planned on the ground floor, along with a restaurant and bar, and an outdoor covered patio. A restroom area would sit on the northwest corner of the hotel with outdoor access for park users.

“We’re really trying to create a seamless, transparent and engaging relationship between the park and the hotel itself,” Kernodle said.

A rendering shows a concept for a proposed hotel on the south side of the planned civic plaza site of the cultural arts corridor in downtown Fayetteville. The image shown is looking northeast at the hotel main entry. (City of Fayetteville)

The floor above the lobby would have a ballroom, meeting room and an outdoor terrace. The next four floors are reserved for hotel rooms. The roof would include an indoor/outdoor bar and lounge, a swimming pool and a social space, Kernodle said.

During public comment, six people spoke in favor of the proposal.

Bo Counts, who owns the Pinpoint pinball bar on Block Avenue, said he’s excited about the project, despite the fact that it would include a competing bar.

“Sure, we’re gonna feel the sting a little,” he said, “but it’s also gonna draw way more attention and foot traffic. If we can get more tourists and more people visiting, then we’re all gonna win.”

City Attorney Kit Williams said after reviewing the proposed land sale contract, there are a few minor details he’d like to review before the council approves the deal.

Councilmember Teresa Turk said the council should hold the item until the next meeting to allow more time for everyone to consider the proposal.

Councilmember D’Andre Jones said the plan has been discussed enough, and he was ready to vote immediately. Sarah Bunch agreed.

“What do we mean when we say we need more time?” Jones asked. “What’s going to change in three weeks?”

Scott Berna became frustrated and raised his voice. He said when the city attorney points out issues with a contract, it’s the responsibility of the council ensure those concerns are addressed.

“Now if you have a problem with that, then I’m sorry,” he said to Jones in a heated tone. Berna later apologized for losing his temper.

Mayor Lioneld Jordan said sometimes he thinks the council overthinks the details when big decisions are being considered.

“It’s like we think we’re gonna aim too high and miss,” said Jordan. “My problem is if we aim too low and we hit.”

Mike Wiederkehr said while he has no doubt the deal will eventually be worked out, getting the details of the contract in place is a top priority.

The council eventually voted 6-1 to table the proposal until the next meeting. Jones voted against tabling the item.