If you’ve ever walked down 8th Street in Bella Vista, it’s probable that you’ve noticed Columbus Hall, a double-wide building at 744-46 S. 8th St., which has housed the Mama Yolanda’s restaurant for decades. The building has been on and off the market since 2000, most recently listed for $1M. This includes the restaurant, the liquor license, as well records from the building’s history as a private club at the turn of the century. The building is beautiful and apparently built like a tank.
Last week, developers came before Bella Vista Town Watch with a plan to convert the building from a restaurant with a banquet hall into a nine-unit apartment building. Represented by architect from Harman Deutsch, their plan consists of three apartments on each of the first two floors, which would have lofted bedrooms. They proposed a seven-foot addition as a fourth story, set back twenty feet from the front of the building, which would allow for bi-level two bedroom units on the third floor, with roof decks.
The crowd did not react favorably to this proposal, for the most part. The sense from the (at times unruly) audience was that the building should not have more than five apartments and that it should not be any taller. A member of the BVTW board even called the developers “greedy.” People seemed extremely comfortable with the commercial use disappearing. A couple of people even went as far as to suggest that they didn’t love the nine-unit proposal, but that this would be better than another restaurant coming into this space.
Bottom floors. Dig the flowery mural.
One possibility that wasn’t discussed at the meeting- the building, while beautiful, is not designated historic. The developers could, if they wished, demolish the building and start from scratch. With the new zoning code, they could ostensibly build a four story building by right, and stuff as many units as they wished onto the site, provided they had enough open space in the rear. Not to say that this would even be financially feasible, but it’s definitely possible.
Kind of makes nine apartments in the existing building sound pretty good, no?