City Has Sights Set On Arts Center


Posted: August 4, 2010 at 5:13 p.m.

— Bentonville, Fayetteville, Lowell, Springdale and Rogers each want the Walton Arts Center expansion.

Proposed sites — 25 in all — were submitted to the Walton Arts Center on Monday. Seven site proposals are located in Bentonville.

Ed Clifford, president and CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce, said it is important the Walton Arts Center have as many choices as possible before deciding where the new center will be.

“For all of Northwest Arkansas, the Walton Arts Center is a huge deal as far as quality of life goes,” Clifford said. “It has the possibility of bringing major Broadway shows to Northwest Arkansas, and the possibility of having large corporate meetings with 20,000 seats in that facility, I think, becomes a very real possibility.”

Bentonville may have an advantage over other proposals.

Buddy D. Philpot, executive director of the Walton Family Foundation, issued a letter to the Walton Arts Center dated June 22 expressing the foundation’s desire for the expansion to be located in Bentonville.

“Our vision is for the Walton Arts Center to grow and serve the needs of the entire metropolitan area and we will always be supportive of that mission,” Philpot said in the letter. “However, we do not forsee being the lead donor for a new performing arts facility in a location other than Bentonville.”

The Walton Family Foundation gives roughly $1 million each year to the Walton Arts Center, Peter Lane, the center’s president and CEO, said previously.

Philpot’s letter said a location in Bentonville will complement the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art under construction downtown.

The location of the site Clifford submitted to the Walton Arts Center was up to 10 acres within a half mile of the Bentonville square. Clifford did not name an exact location on his proposal. Clift ord also didn’t list the value of the property on the proposal and said the land could be donated to the Walton Arts Center.

NorthWest Arkansas Community College also made a proposal.

“It could be a good improvement for NWACC,” David Bradley, the interim strategic initiatives coordinator for the college, said. “We have all the attributes to support a building like that, including the Eighth Street interchange that is going to happen and the Water Tower Road expansion.”

The college proposed the arts center be located on 10 acres of property just north of the college parking garage.

The land is part of the 131 acres already owned by the college. A 10-acre undeveloped parcel is valued between $435,600 and $1,306,800, according to Laurance Trice, a broker with Grubb & Ellis. The college included Trice’s opinion of the land’s value with its proposal. The college also is willing to donate the property to the Walton Arts Center, according to the proposal.

Harold Wlliams, a realtor with Crye-Leike in Bella Vista, was excited when he found out the Walton Arts Center was accepting proposals for expansion.

“The Walton Arts Center is really world renowned. I have friends and family in California and they have heard of the Walton Arts Center and want to come visit it,” Williams said.

Williams said having the Walton Arts Center in Bentonville will help bring more culture to the city.

“We have been a little lax in that area, so I’m excited,” Williams said.

Williams submitted 18.07 acres on Southeast J Street between Bentonville High School and 28th Street for consideration. The property’s value is $2,754,952.

Joe Tarvin of Bentonville submitted property adjacent to Barker Middle School on Southeast C Street. The property is worth $1.2 million for 7.28 acres or $1.5 million for 12.78 acres. The 12.78 acres includes a conservation area.

Tarvin, a civil engineer, said he cannot donate the property to the Walton Arts Center, but is prepared to donate the site’s civil engineering services for the expansion project if his site is selected.

Steven Lane, the managing director of Colliers International in Bentonville, submitted two pieces of property for consideration. Those properties are 17.49 acres on 173 E. Central and more than 120 acres on Peach Orchard Road.

The property on Central Avenue is valued at $3,750,000; the property on Pear Orchards Road is valued at $3,995,000.

Alan Cole of Colliers International submitted a piece of property at the southeast corner of J Street and Interstate 540. The proposal says there are 15 to 60 acres available at the site valued at $10.5 million and the land can be donated to the Walton Arts Center.