Dr. James Naples raised 6 kids in Texarkana, owned hospitals and a psychiatric center, along with other commercial and residential real estate properties he is currently involved in. He has invested time, labor, and many expenses to improve his home of Texarkana.
Originally from New York, Naples is a transplant to Texarkana and has watched the city grow immensely over time. He’s completely self made, earning his education from Rice University and the University of Chicago, later becoming a Podiatrist.
Naples practiced medicine for over 3 decades in Texarkana and has purchased 3 bankrupt psychiatric facilities in Arkansas from 1996-2003. He is always seeking the next opportunity to help this town and state grow.
“It’s a good place to be, it’s small and quaint, a great place to raise children. I like it here,” he laughs.
“One of the big things about Texarkana is that all these hotels were built when 49 and 69 announced they were coming through. They built too quickly and there’s too many of them that are competing for occupancy rates.”
After purchasing the Comfort Inn & Suites for $2.9 million, Naples seized the opportunity at the Texarkana, Arkansas Convention Center and Holiday Inn by purchasing the facility for $6.6 million.
“We’ve probably put a million in the convention center and hotel so far, including renovations to the fitness center, swimming pool and hot tub, and we have the State of Arkansas Economic development commissions approval for a 50,000 square foot athletic center.”
A proposal was made by Naples to the Texarkana, Arkansas A&P Commission for the sports facility in July 2017, but the commission stated they didn’t have the funds to support the project.
Naples is asking for $200,000 in addition the funds from the Original Agreement, $84,800 yearly until 2020.
When Naples purchased the property in bankruptcy court, by law, he was able to continue the Original Agreement through the executory contract. While a majority of convention centers are owned or managed by the City, Naples is relying on tax incentives to help with expenses.
Naples explained, “the City invested a bunch of money in this hotel and should want to see it succeed.”
Anyone else would’ve bought it under the same circumstances, and out of sixteen bidders only maybe two were from Texarkana, including Naples.
“It was a bad deal for the city to start with, they never looked to see what Patel was doing with the money.”
The State of Arkansas is 100% behind the facilities. When Naples proposed the 50,000 square foot fitness center, they approved the project that day.
Naples expressed how good management is key to the survival of these hotels and convention center.
“Aven Williamson is an example of someone who manages very well, but there are just other people who are investing from afar,” said Naples. “The owners of the Comfort Inn are from California , but when we have conventions we try to funnell all of that overage to them to stay on the Arkansas side.”
“My secretary has a handicap 3-year-old and we bought the banks first lien note for the Comfort Inn and Suites and the owners are paying interest to the supplemental needs trust every month, and they seem to be doing better now too. It’s just one of those things where we don’t want to see the other’s go down.”
Naples explained that the situation is unique because he has an opportunity to draw from the four states. He would be able to host competitions for volleyball, chess, basketball, softball, and more, even at a state level.
The plan is to include courts for the community to use for free as well. The project is estimated around $4-5 million for Naples to invest, but that doesn’t intimidate him.
“I would’ve already broken ground on the thing if they will give me approval.”
Naples is asking for $200,000 to fund the fitness facility, in addition to the Original Agreement given for the convention center.
“If we are going to pay $250,000 for this water park that doesn’t draw in anyone, why wouldn’t they want to support something that generates tourism?”
“We had a softball tournament in July of 2017, and there wasn’t a single hotel room in the town that wasn’t full for that weekend. You couldn’t make a reservation at a restaurant or hotel in town!”
Naples wants to expand on that support for sports in Texarkana, Arkansas, seeing the potential benefit for the community and state.
He has worked with Conference USA to do their golf championship here this year.
“They will fill this hotel up and other hotels as well. There are fifteen teams with 10 people, so that’s one-hundred fifty people, not to mention the families that will travel here too.”
Naples easily gets excited at the prospect of his investments growing. After all, it does directly impact the community of Texarkana, Arkansas, as well as the surrounding area.
He is also working diligently to land a national pro bass fishing tournament. There would be fifteen days of competition, with vendors like Mercury supporting the event..
Simply put, the convention centers aren’t large enough for these kinds of sports activities. The hotels can make accommodations, but they do not have the space to host the events themselves.
Naples emphasized that all of the money he’s investing is and will stay in Texarkana, Arkansas and be sourced from the state, from the steel fabrication, sheet metal, builders, engineers, and future employees.
“It not only benefits the community, but it benefits the whole state. Everyone is excited about it, but the A&P Commission,” explained Naples.
The Texarkana, Arkansas Convention Center was built in 2013, costing in excess of $15 million. There are 127 rooms in the 18,351 sq. foot property that sits on 3.38 acres. In addition to the hotel and convention center, there is a full-service restaurant and catering.
Naples explained that the hotel and convention center has thirty-nine full-time employees, half that are Arkansas residents. He is committed to hiring more Arkansans, especially if the sportsplex will get funding approval from the A&P Commission.
It is an opportunity to help the city of Texarkana, Arkansas grow, a side that tends to be neglected by investors.