A new real estate firm is in talks with national hotel groups to bring a boutique hotel to the Hall-Davidson buildings at 209-215 W. Capitol.

The new group, Rock Capital Real Estate, represents the merger of two small firms, Rock Capital Group, led by Dan Roda and Blake Smith, and Capital Real Estate, led by Jordan Haas and Danny Brickey. Rock Capital announced the merger today.

Rock Capital has the 1923 Hall-Davidson buildings under contract to purchase from Capitol Lofts LLC, led by Scott Reed, of Portland, Ore. Reed’s acquisition of property along Main Street and Capitol Avenue in 2010-2013 helped spur other development, but Reed ran into financial problems, including lawsuits and liens that halted his work. The deal for the Hall-Davidson buildings should close by April or May, followed by 12 to 18 months of construction on the hotel, Roda said.

The property includes the 41,672 square-feet Hall Building and the adjoining 19,752 square-feet Hall Building Annex.

There will be a 6,000 square feet restaurant attached to the hotel along with bar and common areas, Roda said. He said he hoped it would attract a bar scene of locals like the Capital Hotel Bar has.

“We’re trying to make it a hub for the Creative Corridor,” Roda said.

Smith said Rock Capital’s hotel project would bring something new to downtown.

“When you think about it, every hotel in downtown Little Rock is … just a business hotel. The brands we’re looking at are very creative. They accommodate business but also parties. To put it bluntly, it’s going bring in younger people. … It’s going to accommodate people who’re in their 30s, who’re coming in for business and they don’t want to stay at the Hilton Garden Inn or wherever and get a free biscuit or muffin. We want to make downtown more relevant for this generation.”

In a similar spirit, Smith said that this merger of real estate companies represented a “changing of the guard.”

“I see John Flake [of Little Rock real estate firm Flake and Kelley] every day at the gym. I love him to death. He’s a mentor of mine, but he’s not going to be around forever. We’re stepping in … “

Smith is 33. Roda is 34. Haas is 31. They said everyone on their team was in their 30s or 40s.

Rock Capital also has the Gay Building at 300 Broadway under contract. It most recently was the home of Rufus Fender Mender. Roda said it was premature to reveal plans for it, but said the group expected to take advantage of the federal Property-Assessed Clean Energy Program (PACE) financing and other energy efficiency programs.

Haas owns the Sterling Building (219 W. Capitol) and Moore Building (519-523 Center St.). Rock Capital will handle the leasing and management of those properties.  

See the release announcing the new firm below:

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Young developers form alliance: take down nearly an entire city block

Rock Capital Real Estate today revealed that its plans to develop the historic Hall and Davidson buildings (201 – 215 W. Capitol Ave.) into a new boutique hotel. The adjacent buildings are situated at the crossroads of Little Rock’s Creative and Financial Corridors, just a block from the new Little Rock Technology Park. The development will include bars, a restaurant, and flexible meeting spaces, which the group plans to make available to the downtown nonprofit and startup communities. The intended result is a hub of collaboration, and a much-needed amenity for this part of downtown.

The development is the first for the new company, which was founded by principals of Rock Capital Group and Capital Real Estate & Trust. The executive team consists of (from left to right) Danny Brickey, Jordan Haas, Blake Smith, and Dan Roda. Along with other partners, they have an interest in the Moore/Mathis Building (521 Center St.) and the Sterling Building (229 W. Capitol Ave.), and, with the Hall and Davidson Buildings under contract, they expect to soon control nearly the entire block bound by Capitol, Louisiana, Center, and 6th Streets.

The development and management team for the project also includes ReImagine Hospitality, Schulte Hospitality Group, and the Alley family. Preliminary architectural work has been performed by both AMR Architects and Wittenbeg Delony & Davidson. The group expects to close on their acquisition in April or May, and for construction to take 12 to 18 months.

The Hall and Davidson buildings are a Pulaski County brownfield site, and are listed on the national register of historic places. The development intends to delicately preserve the historic integrity of the buildings and will utilize historic tax credits. Further, the group has retained Entegrity Energy Partners and Brown Engineers, seeking to maximize energy and utility efficiency. The development also plans to utilize Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funds through the new Pulaski County PACE program.

The group is thankful for their predecessors in downtown redevelopment, like Moses-Tucker Real Estate, and Flake & Kelley Commercial, where Haas and Smith both previously worked. But, says Smith, “A changing of the guard is inevitable. The next generation is coming, and we are claiming our position.”

Says Haas, “This is a perfect project for us, one that allows us to preserve a piece of Little Rock’s history, while modernizing it for future generations to enjoy.”

Where those two factors are combined, look for Rock Capital Real Estate.