RopeSwing ‘social club’ project in downtown Bentonville hits snag

by Paul Gatling (pgatling@nwabj.com) 2,856 views 

One of downtown Bentonville’s oldest structures has suffered significant damage during the course of a restoration project, and will soon be razed.

RopeSwing Hospitality Group, the Walton-backed firm behind Bentonville restaurants The Preacher’s Son and Pressroom and the event venue Record, is leading a renovation and preservation project at 301 N.E. Blake St. near the downtown square.

The site includes a two-story residence built in 1887 by Bentonville businessman Thomas Taylor Blake. RopeSwing’s development plan called for incorporating much of the old house into the design for a new development called The Blake Street House, described by the company as a social and wellness club. In addition to the 18,400-square-foot building, the club will include a tennis court, pool, dining and bar terrace, outdoor grill area, bike staging area and outdoor gardens.

The house, though, was irreparably harmed during a recent attempt to move it and place a new foundation underneath. In a social media post written Oct. 2 on Facebook, Rob Apple, RopeSwing’s operations manager, explained the situation.

  • “The house located on Blake Street in downtown was heavily damaged during construction this weekend. The structure collapsed as it was being moved. It doesn’t appear that we will be able to salvage the structure. We are obviously very disappointed. We made significant investments in time and expense to save the structure and incorporate it into the new project. While this is a challenging setback, we are eager to find a solution that meets our expectations from a design perspective while maintaining the integrity of the neighborhood.”

The Blake Street House project was announced earlier this year, and the original large scale development plan was approved by the city on June 7. It has an anticipated completion date of fall 2018.

On Tuesday (Oct. 3), Apple declined to speak with Talk Business & Politics-Northwest Arkansas Business Journal about the project’s status.

Aaron Sadler, a media relations specialist for Ghidotti Communications of Little Rock, which represents RopeSwing, said the company is “evaluating its next steps” but does not anticipate significant changes to the project timeline. Sadler said despite the loss of the house, RopeSwing remains committed to the project.

According to city records, Flintco LLC in Springdale, the project construction manager, was issued a commercial addition building permit in June at 301 N.E. Blake St. It was valued at $3.31 million. PMA Engineering of Overland Park, Kan., and Hufft, a Kansas City, Mo.-based architecture firm, are also working on the project.

A Walton-controlled entity — Casa de Hormigas LLC — acquired the one-acre Blake Street property in January 2010 for $290,000. Benton County appraisers valued the property earlier this year at $1 million. Translated from Spanish, Casa de Hormigas means house of ants.

Tom Walton, grandson of Wal-Mart Stores founders Sam and Helen Walton, is the managing principal of RopeSwing.

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