Saturday, October 14, 2006

Adieu To One Majestic Lady

Announcements now make it official: the Majestic Hotel and Spa will soon be closing its doors. For 124 years, this regal landmark has served as anchor to Central, Park & Whittington Avenues. It is at this point that Central Avenue gently bends its way between Hot Springs Mountain & West Mountain, becoming the city's main North-South artery. Although not quite as grand as her younger sister three blocks to the south, The Arlington, the closure of The Majestic will end its long history of one of the oldest continuously operating hotels in Arkansas, if not the entire Middle-South.

As seen in the 1912 postcard above, The Majestic had undergone a massive expansion in the early 1900's. Subsequent additions to this original wing were added twice, with the middle wing now acting as the hotel's current main entry. This can be seen in this poorly executed
colorized postcard to the right , by locating the large striped awning at street level.

Exact news of what the future will bring to these landmarks remains sketchy at the moment, but many have assumed, or presumed, that the buildings are being sold by Southwest Hotels, Inc. in Little Rock to an unnamed investor, and will be renovated for future sale as condominium lofts. Although I am saddened to see this regal hotel end its legacy of service, I am extremely pleased and hopeful to see more housing being made available to those who desire downtown real of them namely, being ME.

Details also point to the demolition of the newest wing, and perhaps the most visible looking up Central Avenue. Long ago have the twenty feet tall cursive characters denoting this wing as "Lanai Towers" been removed from the build-
ing...the brick beltline that divides the parking deck from the hotel rooms and balconies above.
I cannot seem to find exactly when this addition
was complete, but from the mid-century flavor,
I would say it could easily be pinpointed to the
late 1950's.

Of course, with real estate being a prime asset
along this narrow valley, I would hope that a
tasteful parking deck will take the place of
Lanai Tower if it is indeed to be razed.
I cannot comprehend luring new residents to downtown without ample parking being a consideration. I personally know of downtown residents living nearby, who rent monthly spaces in the Lanai Tower parking deck...simply to get their cars off of the street.

I haven't heard of any more plans in months for the once envisioned traffic roundabout where Central Avenue, Park Avenue & Whittington Avenue all intersect, but perhaps that will become a reality now. Traffic sure does bottle-neck there...and that would be a great solution to ease traffic flow. The fountain, although not that spectacular, would make the perfect centerpiece.

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