Frank Fletcher, owner of North Little Rock's Wyndham Hotel, earlier had told me he might attempt a referendum campaign if Mayor Pat Hays persuaded the City Council to swap private developers four downtown parcels for the old Rye Furniture property. The idea is for the city to warehouse the land until a hotel development deal can be put together. Hays has also been willing to spend taxpayer money to build a parking deck for the hotel, a particular bone of contention for Fletcher.
Hays, unhappy about strong Council opposition, broke a tie with his own vote to pass the measure last night. So what does Fletcher think now? He said in an e-mail:
We believe that the Hotel will never come to be and that the developers simply got the City to take a dead building off their hands in exchange for 4 good parcels of land they will develop one at a time or sell to other developers.
There is no common sense in spending $28-30 million on a Hotel at the Rye location when there are much superior sites near Verizon or on the river.
The Rye location for a huge investment with no ground parking doesn't make sense to me if I was doing the project. I believe long run the city might develop a convention center when the two year option plays out.
The time we would sponsor a referendum would be if the city voted to spend city money to build a parking deck for a private developer.