Retail, residential planned for Ward-Garrison Building in downtown Fort Smith

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 177 views 

An historic hotel in Fort Smith – commonly known as the Ward-Garrison Building, could be redesigned into retail and residential space following its purchase on online auction Wednesday (June 12).

Cameron Maxey and Jonathan Diamond with Bracket Real Estate, a Dallas-based brokerage firm handling the sale of the  historic Ward Hotel building at 523 Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith, said the building sold on an online auction site Wednesday for $775,000. Starting bid for the 72,000+ square foot hotel building was $150,000.

“There was great response to the auction,” Maxey said.

Twelve companies across the country – some local, some from the West Coast and some from New York – participated in the auction, Maxey and Diamond said. The buyer’s names can not be released until they have been listed in public records, but said the owners intend to renovate the old hotel building into a retail/residential space with retail on the bottom floors and residential on the top.

“There are federal historic preservation grants they are looking into,” Maxey said. “Those grants would mean they could not change the historic outside, but could completely renovate the inside of the building.”

Ward-Garrison Building

The building is listed on the United States National Register of Historic Buildings. The Arkansas Department of Heritage states that the Ward Hotel, which opened on Dec. 14, 1929, cost $600,000 to build and furnish. It originally contained 165 rooms, a coffee shop, barber shop and ballroom. It was later expanded to 200 rooms, with connecting baths.

The 11-story building later served as an office building. The building features a limestone base, brick walls, and details that include sculptural swags above the windows.