As Parth and Vijay Patel continue full-speed ahead with the restoration of downtown's Medical Arts Building, the father-son duo have recently commissioned filmmaker Michael Schwarz to document the historic building's transformation into a hotel.
Schwarz, who publishes Abandoned Arkansas, is also the filmmaker behind "Forever Majestic,*" a documentary that began as a restoration mission of Hot Springs's Majestic Hotel, but concluded in flames after the structure burned in 2014. The film taught a lesson of what can happen to abandoned buildings when they go untended to.
"After Michael's work with Abandoned Arkansas, it's definitely noted that he has a passion for saving historic buildings," Parth Patel told The Post.
This 8-12 minute micro documentary will chronicle the building's full restoration as the Patel's turn what was once known as downtown's "skyscraper of health," holding numerous medical offices, into an Aloft Hotel by Marriott.
"I'm a lover of history, I'm a lover of architecture and I'm a lover of seeing architecture come back to life," Schwarz said. "And, I am truly honored that the Patel's have hired me to do this project, and they're just as excited as I am."
In a restoration project that has already progressed faster than what Schwarz said he expected, the film will be complete when the hotel is in one to two years. In the meantime, he is calling on the community for its input.
"I would love the chance to interview some folks with fond memories of the building when it was open, perspective on its history and comments about its placement in Downtown / Architectural Influence over the years," Schwarz said in a Facebook Post on a community page. "If you or someone you know would be interested, please reach out."
Schwarz can be contacted at 405-650-0005, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"I'm hopeful to find every piece of information I can on it to properly document everything and really understand," he told The Post. "Because I know it's an important building, and, you know, Parth and Vijay know it's an important building, but I'd love to hear from the community of why it's important to them. And I want to talk to some architects, I want to talk to some of the city leaders if they will talk to me."
Unlike "Forever Majestic," which followed a controversial battle over restoring The Majestic prior to its "mysterious" burning, Schwarz said the documentary on the Medical Arts building will be a "feel good piece and a promotional piece for Hot Springs that's about the downtown development that is so desperately needed."
"One of the big things, and this is something I try to stress in the documentary 'Forever Majestic,' is that just because a building is abandoned and in that state, doesn't mean it can't be redone," he said. "And I have heard time and time again that, 'Oh my gosh it would be great to restore the Medical Arts building, but it's too far gone. It's too far gone, it can't be restored and the Patel's are out of their mind,' and blah, blah, blah.
"And so far ... I believe the Patel's are doing something truly amazing here.
"... One of the things I want to be a takeaway in this documentary, is that, 'Wow, the Medical Arts is in horrible shape, and they were able to do it.' And that way other people outside of Hot Springs may be able to see that. Or, the Patel's could use this video in their future endeavors and say, 'Look, we were able to do this building.'
"My hope it to help continue to help educate the public: Abandoned buildings might look bad, but that doesn't mean they can't be revived."
*"Forever Majestic" debuted at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival in 2021. Its trailer can be viewed here.