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skirby

New Hotel for the River Market

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The parking lot at Commerce and President Clinton is under contract to the operator of the Courtyard and Hampton Inn in the RM area. The talk is they want to build a seven story Aloft hotel on the site. A spokesman for the library has already voiced opposition to the building because of the height. The lot is between the Butler Center and the police sub-station.

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Rendering of an Aloft under construction by McKibbon Hotel Management in Florida. McKibbon is the company involved in the LR project.

alofttallahasseemj3.jpg

Edited by skirby

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I think it's lovely. Sure, it's not as tall as many of us would want, but it would be a great addition to the RM. IMO. Would the police substation stay? It doesn't look like it--judging by the rendering.

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This is the project we were referring to in the other thread, and its sounds shorter than I had been led to believe.

Either way, I'm in complete disagreement with Bobby Roberts regarding the height. He is opposed to its scale and has stated that 7 stories is inappropriate. This is an urban context!! There are SEVERAL buildings along Clinton Avenue that tall or taller - Terminal Building (7 or so) and First Security (16 stories) - not to mention the 18 story 300 Third and the new 20 story River Market Tower.

I suspect that Mr. Roberts' concern stems from the fact that he won't be able to control that site, and this is his way of battling that fact.

It seems as if the stars are aligned against the ALoft.

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This is the project we were referring to in the other thread, and its sounds shorter than I had been led to believe.

Either way, I'm in complete disagreement with Bobby Roberts regarding the height. He is opposed to its scale and has stated that 7 stories is inappropriate. This is an urban context!! There are SEVERAL buildings along Clinton Avenue that tall or taller - Terminal Building (7 or so) and First Security (16 stories) - not to mention the 18 story 300 Third and the new 20 story River Market Tower.

I suspect that Mr. Roberts' concern stems from the fact that he won't be able to control that site, and this is his way of battling that fact.

It seems as if the stars are aligned against the ALoft.

I guess Roberts thinks this would not fit the historic nature of the River Market. Has he looked at the new addition to the Butler Center or the River Market Parking Deck, which is almost across the street from the proposed hotel. Lets face it the River Market would not exist if it had to rely on the library patrons. I would like to see the hotel more open to the street than the First Security Building is.

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The Czar of the Central Arkansas Library System, Dr. Bobby Roberts, wants that area to expand his empire on. He doesn't care how many low-life tax paying surfs don't like it.

If only the tax payers of Little Rock and Pulaski county knew of the money wasted by the narcissistic leader of the library system.

He will stoop at nothing to get his way and will try with all his political power to block this project.

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I think it's lovely. Sure, it's not as tall as many of us would want, but it would be a great addition to the RM. IMO. Would the police substation stay? It doesn't look like it--judging by the rendering.

That rendering is NOT an image of the proposed Little Rock site - it was just posted by skirby as an example.

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The Czar of the Central Arkansas Library System, Dr. Bobby Roberts, wants that area to expand his empire on. He doesn't care how many low-life tax paying surfs don't like it.

If only the tax payers of Little Rock and Pulaski county knew of the money wasted by the narcissistic leader of the library system.

He will stoop at nothing to get his way and will try with all his political power to block this project.

Do you have something against libraries? Or do you just not like guys who get things done and wear seersucker suits?

You may disagree with Roberts opposition to the height of the Aloft. But your opinion of Bobby's leadership with CALS is WAY out in deep space. Little Rock has been very lucky to have him.

Main Library << opened in 1997

Sue Cowan Williams Library << opened in 1997

1800 Chester Street

Little Rock, AR 72206

501-376-4282

Dee Brown Library << opened in 2002

6325 Baseline Road

Little Rock, AR 72209

501-568-7494

Sidney S. McMath Library << 200? (newest open library)

2100 John Barrow Drive

Little Rock , AR 72204

501-225-0066

the New Nixon Library in Jacksonville << under construction

Butler Center for Arkansas Studies (a joint project with UALR) << nearing completion

CALS will soon break ground on a new children

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The Czar of the Central Arkansas Library System, Dr. Bobby Roberts, wants that area to expand his empire on. He doesn't care how many low-life tax paying surfs don't like it.

If only the tax payers of Little Rock and Pulaski county knew of the money wasted by the narcissistic leader of the library system.

He will stoop at nothing to get his way and will try with all his political power to block this project.

I don't know what your beef with Bobby Roberts is but I think LR could use more like him. The people you call "low-life tax paying surfs" are some of the beneficiaries of our excellent system of branch libraries.

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I don't know what your beef with Bobby Roberts is but I think LR could use more like him. The people you call "low-life tax paying surfs" are some of the beneficiaries of our excellent system of branch libraries.

I agree - he is a fine person of whom everyone I know speaks highly of...he is an advocate for quality library facilities (if you haven't noticed) and is a proponent of responsible urban infill (though I do disagree with his particular concern here) and neighborhood development. He has high standards, and unfortunately that's a rare trait these days.

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The Central Arkansas Library System owes a great deal to Bobby Roberts. He certainly is not the only one who deserves credit for the growth and great success. However, he was and is the catalyst for the great library system we have. Give credit where credit is due.

But you must understand, Bobby Roberts is a politician. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear. If you all openly oppose him on the Hotel issue, do not be suprised when you are bashed. Those are the facts whether you like it or not. That is the kind of person he is.

I openly support the hotel being built. Openly. According to Roberts, I am a low-life. Honest politicians are what we need. Not more stab in back politicians. We have way too many of those in Little Rock. Not just Dr. Roberts.

The hotel will bring more jobs, more retail, more people to the area. Everyone in the area will benefit. Even the library system.

I encourage you to contact the board of directors of Little Rock and openly support the hotel.

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The way I see it Roberts has not invested his own money in the area. There should be a survey of the people who have put their own money into the district to see if they want a hotel with its seven floors. As it is at night that block is dead. Across the street is the Market Hall and on the south side is the Butler Center and a parking lot. The block sort of divides the River Market into two parts at night. If Roberts gets his way what developer has the money to spend on a three story building to put in place of the parking lot? No one, unless you are the library system and can spend over $24 million, like they did next door on the Butler Center.

I just don't get it when people who work for the taxpayers try to defeat private enterprise. This is the second time within a few months this has happened on the same street. What type of message is being sent to developers?

Two examples of what happens when the government is allowed to build in the RM District: the Nature Center and the RM Parking Deck.

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But you must understand, Bobby Roberts is a politician. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear. If you all openly oppose him on the Hotel issue, do not be suprised when you are bashed. Those are the facts whether you like it or not. That is the kind of person he is.

I know Bobby Roberts, I serve on a board with him and am a neighbor. Your opinion of him is of course your own but I don't share it and I doubt many do. I have no dog in the hunt regarding the lot in question, although I believe that Markham and Scott would be a better location for a hotel. Much better than a parking deck.

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The Central Arkansas Library System owes a great deal to Bobby Roberts. He certainly is not the only one who deserves credit for the growth and great success. However, he was and is the catalyst for the great library system we have. Give credit where credit is due.

But you must understand, Bobby Roberts is a politician. He will tell you exactly what you want to hear. If you all openly oppose him on the Hotel issue, do not be suprised when you are bashed. Those are the facts whether you like it or not. That is the kind of person he is.

I openly support the hotel being built. Openly. According to Roberts, I am a low-life. Honest politicians are what we need. Not more stab in back politicians. We have way too many of those in Little Rock. Not just Dr. Roberts.

The hotel will bring more jobs, more retail, more people to the area. Everyone in the area will benefit. Even the library system.

I encourage you to contact the board of directors of Little Rock and openly support the hotel.

I vote for politicians. I don't recall voting for Bobby Roberts. Any political clout he's accumulated in our small city is due to the vision and leadership he has demonstrated at CALS. I suspect he'd fair poorly in a City Board race unless it was Ward 3.

The relevancy of Bobby Roberts' opinion about the building height of a private commercial interest in the River Market is because of it proximity to the Main Library, the Cox Center and the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies. It is a part of the City planning process to solicit input from all business owners and residents within a certain distance from any new development or redevelopment. The design overlay for the River Market should be a concern to the interest behind the Aloft, not Bobby Roberts.

I recall that the First Security building was met with opposition over its height. This was due to the design overlay for that area. I don't know what the height restriction is, but I think there is one. I believe the geographic area has a south boundary of the I-40 exit ramp, a west boundary of La Harpe, a north boundary of the river, and a east boundary of the I-40 bridge. The First Security building is the tallest building in that zone because the City granted a variance (This may not be the correct technical word since we're talking about an overlay district).

The problem with granting variances stems from the precedent they set for an area (give an inch, take a mile). The problem with building height is that it can obstruct something that has a greater visual appeal. Many who post to this board have chided NLR and Mayor Hayes for the height of the Enclave because if obstructs the view of downtown LR from Alltel. What will a seven story hotel at Commerce and President Clinton Ave obstruct? Will the building be architecturally inspiring in way that augments the visual appeal of the River Market?

Architect - Isn't the First Security building your favorite building in the River Market? (I think you know me well enough to know I know your answer, but please explain why.)

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The way I see it Roberts has not invested his own money in the area. There should be a survey of the people who have put their own money into the district to see if they want a hotel with its seven floors. As it is at night that block is dead. Across the street is the Market Hall and on the south side is the Butler Center and a parking lot. The block sort of divides the River Market into two parts at night. If Roberts gets his way what developer has the money to spend on a three story building to put in place of the parking lot? No one, unless you are the library system and can spend over $24 million, like they did next door on the Butler Center.

I just don't get it when people who work for the taxpayers try to defeat private enterprise. This is the second time within a few months this has happened on the same street. What type of message is being sent to developers?

Two examples of what happens when the government is allowed to build in the RM District: the Nature Center and the RM Parking Deck.

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The way I see it Roberts has not invested his own money in the area. There should be a survey of the people who have put their own money into the district to see if they want a hotel with its seven floors. As it is at night that block is dead. Across the street is the Market Hall and on the south side is the Butler Center and a parking lot. The block sort of divides the River Market into two parts at night. If Roberts gets his way what developer has the money to spend on a three story building to put in place of the parking lot? No one, unless you are the library system and can spend over $24 million, like they did next door on the Butler Center.

I just don't get it when people who work for the taxpayers try to defeat private enterprise. This is the second time within a few months this has happened on the same street. What type of message is being sent to developers?

Two examples of what happens when the government is allowed to build in the RM District: the Nature Center and the RM Parking Deck.

If I had a hotel in downtown LR I would very much want it to have the President Clinton Avenue address. (I'm sure you would too.. hehe).

I think you're misguided about the requirement that someone invest their personal money. A large portion of Roberts career is tied to this area of Little Rock. Your argument leaves it wide open for a wealthy idiot to come in a trash what you have spent a lot of time taking very nice pictures.

Hypothetically, if you extend your POV to your neighborhood, then it should be okay for someone with a lot of money to buy the property around you and build a trailer park. Just because you are not as invested as the person with more money should not devalue your input on what the best use of the property surrounding your home would be.

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The way I see it Roberts has not invested his own money in the area. There should be a survey of the people who have put their own money into the district to see if they want a hotel with its seven floors. As it is at night that block is dead. Across the street is the Market Hall and on the south side is the Butler Center and a parking lot. The block sort of divides the River Market into two parts at night. If Roberts gets his way what developer has the money to spend on a three story building to put in place of the parking lot? No one, unless you are the library system and can spend over $24 million, like they did next door on the Butler Center.

I just don't get it when people who work for the taxpayers try to defeat private enterprise. This is the second time within a few months this has happened on the same street. What type of message is being sent to developers?

Two examples of what happens when the government is allowed to build in the RM District: the Nature Center and the RM Parking Deck.

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Architect - Isn't the First Security building your favorite building in the River Market? (I think you know me well enough to know I know your answer, but please explain why.)

The First Security Center isn't my favorite building, but I have no problems with its height whatsoever.

I gather from your comments that there is some validity to the design overlay/height restrictions. Maybe so, and perhaps there should be some restraint, but I just don't think 7 stories is unreasonable for such an urban area (it wouldn't be any taller than the parking deck even...).

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The First Security Center isn't my favorite building, but I have no problems with its height whatsoever.

I gather from your comments that there is some validity to the design overlay/height restrictions. Maybe so, and perhaps there should be some restraint, but I just don't think 7 stories is unreasonable for such an urban area (it wouldn't be any taller than the parking deck even...).

I'm not familiar with the specifics of the River Market overlay. These are available somewhere on the LR City web site though.

I was hoping you'd elaborate on your thoughts of the First Security building. I believe you can offer us some insight as to why that building could have been a better design for the area that it was.

If a seven story building violates the height restriction of the design overlay district, would the architectural design of the building make a more compelling case for a variance? If a seven-story building does not violate any height restriction, there really is not much Roberts can do, other than voice opposition. The City would be sued (and lose) if it refused a permit based on building height that is clearly allowed by the River Market Overlay. The fact that the City granted a variance to the First Security project increases the risk of a lawsuit even if seven stories is in violation of the height restrictions for the design overlay.

My personal thoughts about the Aloft are this...

The police sub-station would need to be moved (probably controversial). Who wants to walk out of a hotel lobby of a City and the first thing they see is LRs finest?

The ground floor must meet all the design overlay district requirements of retail and a certain percentage of glass.

The architecture should be more urban and interesting than the example posted by Skirby. (If I get around to it this weekend I'll post pics I took in Pittsburgh.) I saw a couple of parking decks that were remarkable in that you couldn't readily tell they were parking decks because of how well the architecture was executed.) If someone can make a parking deck look as good as what I saw in Pittsburgh, then someone can design a hotel that truly lifts up the River Market. Our library system did it with the Butler Center.

Height? What ever height is needed to include the above is fine with me.

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If I had a hotel in downtown LR I would very much want it to have the President Clinton Avenue address. (I'm sure you would too.. hehe).

I think you're misguided about the requirement that someone invest their personal money. A large portion of Roberts career is tied to this area of Little Rock. Your argument leaves it wide open for a wealthy idiot to come in a trash what you have spent a lot of time taking very nice pictures.

Hypothetically, if you extend your POV to your neighborhood, then it should be okay for someone with a lot of money to buy the property around you and build a trailer park. Just because you are not as invested as the person with more money should not devalue your input on what the best use of the property surrounding your home would be.

I think you need to reread my post. I stated that the business owners should be surveyed and I don't feel that a person without a private interest should tell those who going to invest money what they can and cannot do. Anyway, Roberts lost his argument about the historic nature of the district when he constructed the add-on to the Butler Center, which I like a lot. I don't have a problem with Roberts I just think he should stay out of this matter. I don't think a seven or eight or nine story building would overshadow the Butler Building as Roberts has said.

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I think you need to reread my post. I stated that the business owners should be surveyed and I don't feel that a person without a private interest should tell those who going to invest money what they can and cannot do. Anyway, Roberts lost his argument about the historic nature of the district when he constructed the add-on to the Butler Center, which I like a lot. I don't have a problem with Roberts I just think he should stay out of this matter. I don't think a seven or eight or nine story building would overshadow the Butler Building as Roberts has said.

Soliciting input from property owners withing 100 feet of a proposed development is routine in Little Rock. This solicitation comes on City letterhead. By design of the City planning process, Roberts is entitled to have input on this project, probably more so than most. Whether his input will sway planning commissioners or city directors, is TBD. Again, if there is no restriction of a seven-story building, then Roberts can voice his opposition until he turns blue. The City cannot arbitrarily refuse a permit for a building height that it has already legislated via ordinance to be an allowable height.

My post was not to attack you. I don't agree with the position that you must to "pay-to-play." If you can't afford it, then "tough."

I had not heard opposition due to an erosion of the historic nature of the district. Is Roberts making an argument about the historic nature of the parking lot?

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Whatever! Why must every time somebody try to build something in LR, somebody has to get his/her feelings hurt!

I hope the best for LR, RM and the life downtown.

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Soliciting input from property owners withing 100 feet of a proposed development is routine in Little Rock. This solicitation comes on City letterhead. By design of the City planning process, Roberts is entitled to have input on this project, probably more so than most. Whether his input will sway planning commissioners or city directors, is TBD. Again, if there is no restriction of a seven-story building, then Roberts can voice his opposition until he turns blue. The City cannot arbitrarily refuse a permit for a building height that it has already legislated via ordinance to be an allowable height.

My post was not to attack you. I don't agree with the position that you must to "pay-to-play." If you can't afford it, then "tough."

I had not heard opposition due to an erosion of the historic nature of the district. Is Roberts making an argument about the historic nature of the parking lot?

From KARK 4;

""I'm not disputing the style, just the height," says Bobby Roberts, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

He says the building would be between 75 and 90 feet high, towering over the library's new Arkansas Studies Institute as well as other buildings on the block.

"I think anytime you build a project like this... It doesn't help the district, it hurts the district," says Roberts."

As you can see Mr. Roberts is a height hater. Anything taller than his is not to be allowed. Has he even seen what the style of the building will be? I would like to hear his reason that this building would hurt the district besides it would be too tall. Does he have any proof to back up his statements?

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From KARK 4;

""I'm not disputing the style, just the height," says Bobby Roberts, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

He says the building would be between 75 and 90 feet high, towering over the library's new Arkansas Studies Institute as well as other buildings on the block.

"I think anytime you build a project like this... It doesn't help the district, it hurts the district," says Roberts."

As you can see Mr. Roberts is a height hater. Anything taller than his is not to be allowed. Has he even seen what the style of the building will be? I would like to hear his reason that this building would hurt the district besides it would be too tall. Does he have any proof to back up his statements?

I have no idea how it hurts the River Market District. I assume he is only referencing the boundaries I posted earlier. Anything south of the I-40 on/off ramp is not considered the River Market District.

I can't just discount his opinion tho... I want to hear why he thinks taller buildings detract. Some on this board have been disappointed with the Enclave blocking the view of downtown lr from Alltel. Maybe someone like Roberts should have spoken up.

You have all the great photos of downtown lr. Can you photoshop in a 7 story building?

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I was hoping you'd elaborate on your thoughts of the First Security building. I believe you can offer us some insight as to why that building could have been a better design for the area that it was.

Okay - not sure how relevant my critique of the First Security Tower is to the perspective on the Aloft, but for what its worth:

First, the design architect for First Security is quite talented and a friend of mine, but to summarize his comment to me about the building, its original design fell victim to developer cutbacks. Specifically, the entire facade lacks the depth or ornamentation that was originally designed - a result of cost cutting. However, I think the solution at the street level, specifically the iron/steel canopies, change of material (burnished block), and detailing are quite attractive and successful at responding the the scale of the pedestrian. And again, I think the height is fine - even good, and adds to both the verticality and density of the district.

Second, I should also point out that the building is mixed-use, which is a very positive element - it contains hotel, office and residential condominiums. Again, this adds to the density and diversity of the district.

I do not recall, and may never have been privity to the justification to the height variance to the overlay district, but I'm sure it ultimately feel on the question of why they SHOULDN'T approve a high-rise, mixed used development in the district that adds density, activity and an infusion of $30M to the district. And I imagine the same logic will prevail in the Aloft consideration (but again, I'm not sure what the height restriction is...it may not need a variance).

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From KARK 4;

""I'm not disputing the style, just the height," says Bobby Roberts, Director of the Central Arkansas Library System.

He says the building would be between 75 and 90 feet high, towering over the library's new Arkansas Studies Institute as well as other buildings on the block.

"I think anytime you build a project like this... It doesn't help the district, it hurts the district," says Roberts."

As you can see Mr. Roberts is a height hater. Anything taller than his is not to be allowed. Has he even seen what the style of the building will be? I would like to hear his reason that this building would hurt the district besides it would be too tall. Does he have any proof to back up his statements?

Okay, I really like Bobby Roberts, but this is an utterly ridiculous position. "...anytime you build a project like this...It doesn't help the district, it hurst the district." WHAT? The truth is that Mr. Roberts had hoped to control that property, and now he doesn't. And since when on God's green earth is a 90 ft. building inappropriate in an urban district? As skirby pointed out, he has yet to make a logical argument. Until he does, I take issue with his position. Strongly.

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