Despite an eleventh-hour bid from VIPA’s Vijay Patel to buy the grounds that the Majestic Hotel once sat on, the Hot Springs City Board voted 6-1 Tuesday night to award the contract to Rick Wilson, CEO of R.A. Wilson Enterprises for $2.16 million.
R.A. Wilson has been in contact with the Walton Arts Center regarding planning and operations at the site. Wilson says the Majestic site could host its first concert by spring of 2023.
Director Erin Holliday, whose district includes the site, was the only board member who opposed the sale, citing a lack of other options. However, the city put out two calls for submissions last year, only receiving a submission from R.A. Wilson.
PREVIOUSLY: A $2.17 million dollar offer was submitted Monday to the Hot Springs Board of Directors for the purchase of the grounds of the former Majestic Hotel, 36 hours before the board was set to meet to evaluate Rick Wilson’s offer.
The new offer from VIPA Hospitality Management was submitted shortly after Hot Springs Mayor Pat McCabe finished a conference call with Wilson, who is the CEO of R.A. Wilson Enterprises. Wilson’s offer is on the agenda for Tuesday night’s board meeting.
Vijay Patel, VIPA board chairman, claims that the Hot Springs Board of Directors has known about his interest in the property for two years, since he began emailing the board in August of 2019.
VIPA’s $2.17 million offer is part of continued plans for the proposed Falling Water Resort. It recently purchased property in Hot Springs with the intention of constructing a hotel. City Manager Bill Burrough said that Patel’s 2019 email came at a time when the city was not looking to sell the property. Additionally, VIPA did not respond to the two requests for proposals that the city issued last year. Patel responded that the time wasn’t right to submit a proposal, and that VIPA requested in March of 2020 that the Hot Springs Board of Directors delay their call for proposals by a year.
Wilson questioned the timing and ambiguity of Patel’s proposal, and the proposal doesn’t detail what will be built on the site.
“Mr. Patel has had an abundance of time to develop his hotel plan…It suggests that it’s meant to be nothing but a roadblock,” Wilson said.
Additionally, Wilson questioned the logistics of building two grand hotels beside one another, drawing the comparison that “it would be the same as me deciding I was going to buy the Arlington Hotel, tear it down, and build a second amphitheater”.
Burrough said he is thankful for Patel’s interest in Hot Springs, but will recommend that the board consider Wilson’s proposal first.