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Posh hotel fits Spa City preservation plans | News

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Posh hotel fits Spa City preservation plans

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (KTHV) -- An improving economy and perhaps some roaming buffalo have tourism in Hot Springs booming.

Now, officials say that a building that was once considered a landmark is set for renovation.

The new owners of the Thompson building hope to bring more 'boutique' to Central Avenue in downtown Hot Springs.

The 100-year-old building is about to be renovated into what's called a boutique hotel.

Former doctors offices will become guest rooms in an Ascend hotel, the upscale brand for choice hotels best known for Comfort Inns and Econolodge.

For architect and developer Anthony Taylor, it's the latest step in a 30-year process.

His partners Bob Kempkes and Robert Zunick have a history here.

"We are the leasees and operators of the Quapaw Bath House here. We own an office building here. We've done quite a lot of restoration."

Taylor says the time is right.

Hot Springs is coming off a huge summer tourism season and the 2014 Majestic Hotel fire drew attention to the plight of some parts of downtown.

The Thompson building presents only a few challenges to get it back to the days when it was the belle of the block.

"The building itself is very solid and structurally sound. The glazed terracotta on the facade it's not worn well over the past however many years."

Taylor believes reducing what's rundown has to be an improvement even as current tourists flock here for the Spa City's already established charms.

The upscale changes will likely force store front businesses in the building now to move. Right now they house an art gallery and a t-shirt shop.

The owner of the shirt store says he's being forced out, and he hasn't decided if he will move or retire.