Since the city approved the building of the outdoor music pavilion at the site of where The Majestic Hotel once stood in July, there has been a loud response from citizens with concerns on the lack of parking and traffic congestion downtown Hot Springs already faces. The pavilion, estimated to hold 5,000 people, plans to be completed and have its first event in March 2023. This gives they city roughly 17 months to devise a solution.
District 1 City Director Erin Holliday, whose district is where the pavilion will be, said regardless of what is placed at the Majestic site — whether it's the proposed amphitheater or any similar attraction venue — there will be an impact in the way people travel through the Central, Park and Whittington Ave. intersection.
"As it is currently designed, the intersection causes confusion for visitors and delays during high traffic times," Holliday said. "I am hopeful that this new development will spur the city and the Arkansas Highway Department to work together to improve this intersection."
One solution to the issue is a roundabout being installed at the Central, Park, Whittington intersection.
"There has been talk of a roundabout for years," Holliday said. "But from what I understand, the Highway Department always rejected the idea. With the new roundabout at the Hwy 5 and 7 junction they may have changed their position. But, at this time I don't believe there are any specific options being considered."
As for parking, Holliday said the traditional model of patrons driving to a venue and parking adjacent is "just not a possibility here."
"The City is aware of our community's concerns and this has been a large part of the conversation with the developer," she said. "Mr. Wilson* and his team have presented a variety of mobility options, like including a ride share voucher with an event ticket, and I am appreciative of that effort."
Mayor Pat McCabe, who owns Hotel Hale on Bathhouse Row, said he and other downtown shop owners and hoteliers "obviously" welcome the influx of diverse visitors the music pavilion will bring.
As for the parking and traffic issues downtown currently faces with the amount of visitors it already gets, McCabe said, "when things of this type are developed there will be new opportunities to solve those challenges."
He added that with the extension of the expressway to Hot Springs Village some traffic will be subtracted from downtown while some will simultaneously be added. Once a solid solution is devised, McCabe believes the turnout of the added visitors the pavilion brings will be "fine."
*The Majestic site was purchased by local commercial real estate developer Rick Wilson.