Tom Walton’s hospitality group has opened a 12,000-square-foot event center in the former Benton County Daily Record building at 104 S.W. A St. in downtown Bentonville.
RopeSwing Hospitality Group, of which Walton is managing principal, named the venue the Record, a nod to the years the building housed the county’s daily newspaper. A Walton family interest purchased the building for $700,000 in November 2012, but plans were not put into motion on the development project until earlier this year.
The group did not disclose the cost of the property’s extensive renovation, but Jordan Garner, sales and marketing associate, said the group purposely kept the building’s exterior walls — and other features that include garage doors and a wooden roof — in order to stay true to the history of the building and the downtown cityscape.
The property initially housed Burger Motor Co. when it was built in the mid-20th century, Garner said.
The space can be closed off into two separate rooms and features two large cocktail bars, in addition to a 300-square-foot commercial kitchen. The property was redesigned by Mark Herrmann, principal at Polk Stanley Wilcox Architects in Fayetteville. Flintco handled construction.
RopeSwing partnered with JustKids, the street art curators behind The Unexpected art project in Fort Smith, to bring in Mexican artist Edgar Saner to paint a mural on the side of the building. Saner will work on the project Oct. 24–29, during the venue’s first scheduled event, the Made by Few Conference, set for Oct. 26–29.
The Record will also host events surrounding the International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit Nov. 10–12.
Garner said the RopeSwing group intends to create spaces that encourage activity near the square.
“Our goal is to keep people downtown,” she said. “A bigger plan is all downtowns in Northwest Arkansas. We love the downtown culture. We love keeping those historical landscapes alive, and we feel like if you can be a part of businesses that also have that same mentality it will help keep them alive and grow them and create more of an urban lifestyle.”
The Record is just one of several new downtown Bentonville projects announced in recent months. Following are just a few of the new projects.
• RopeSwing aims to open the Preacher’s Son restaurant, renovated from an early 20th-century church on Northwest A Street, before the end of the year.
• Northwest Arkansas Downtown Revitalization Fund, backed by the Walton grandsons, is planning a 15,671-square-foot, six-screen movie theater at the corner of Southwest A and Southwest Fourth streets in the Arts District. It’s planned to open spring 2017.
• Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will open “The Plant,” a 63,000-square-foot performing arts center in the former Kraft cheese plant in Bentonville’s downtown Market District by early 2019. The Waltons own the property, and the new facility is made possible by a multimillion-dollar grant from the Walton Family Foundation. Steuart Walton serves on the board of directors for Crystal Bridges.
• The Waltons are also spearheading the renovation of the former Tyson Foods fry plant located a couple of blocks away in the Market District. It will house the NorthWest Arkansas Community College’s new $15 million Brightwater culinary school, another investment supported by the Walton Family Foundation.