Demolition of building begins on former Mountain Inn site

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Photo: Todd Gill, Fayetteville Flyer

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

A North Little Rock contractor has applied for a permit to remove the remaining structure from the former Mountain Inn property 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, director of city development services, said there have been code compliance issues with the property for several years regarding securing or removing the building due to safety concerns related to the deterioration of the structure.

Curth said the owners had made several attempts to secure the building, but its condition had deteriorated recently.

Concerns about some marbles falling from the building are of particular concern, he said.

Justin Stewart of Car-Son Construction, LLC of North Little Rock applied for the permit to remove the structure and filed reports of 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 the best way to safely remove the building, and he expects demolition work to begin next week.

Stewart said he doesn’t know what the building owner plans to do with the property once his team completes the work.

“We just got hired for the demo,” he said.

The Mountain Inn property is currently owned by NWAP, LLC, a company headquartered in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Mark Carney, a Mountain Home attorney listed as the company’s registered agent and founder/organizer of NYAP, LLC, died in December, according to an online obituary. Carney’s office told the Flyer in 2014 that he registered the company in the name of an anonymous 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 company’s membership is not public.

“The information displayed on our website is all the information available to us,” the agent wrote.

Carney said in 2016 that the owners had no specific plans for the property at the time, although they would explore a mix of hotels, retail and offices for the site.

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

The site has an interesting history.

The property formerly housed the Mountain Inn, a 95-room hotel located at the corner of College and Mountain Street. It was expanded in the 1960s from its original Center Street location to include retail space and a first-floor lobby, a six-story parking lot, and a third-floor outdoor 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 to build an 18-story hotel called the Renaissance Tower on the property.

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

After the building was demolished, however, the hotel never saw the light of day. A construction crane towered over a fenced gaping hole for around two years before a parking lot was finally built on the site.

The project was ultimately scrapped due to a lack of funding, forcing the developers to pay $300,000 in damages to the city for failing to fulfill their commitment.

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