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HillHigh Resort auction being closely watched by residents of Horseshoe Bend

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"We feel like we have marketed it the best we can," said Gladys Raney of Wilson Auctioneers. "We have gotten a good response."

Raney was optimistic as the Sept. 14 auction of Hillhigh Resort properties approached.

Due to The News' press deadline, the auction results will be published in next week's edition. Details are also available online at areawidenews.com.

Jerry Smith, the operator of the Horseshoe Bend resort, announced in late July that he was giving up his interest in the 130 acre resort and golf course complex, and the property would cease operation by the end of August.

The executor of the estate of Smith's brother, Carlie Smith, hired Wilson Auctioneers, a Hot Springs company, to divide the property into three tracts - the resort, the golf course and undeveloped land - and auction them off separately or as one, which ever brings the highest price.

"We have marketed the auction through business publications and on KARK Channel Four, a Little Rock television station which is carried on many cable systems around the state," said Raney.

The auctioneers have also mailed hundreds of direct mail brochures throughout the area. The brochure proclaims "Attention: Commercial Investors, Developers & Business Owners!" It uses color photos and descriptions to show the resort's amenities and explain auction procedures.

"We have received lots of calls, and I feel like we are hearing from a lot of serious, true investors, who want to make a long range investment in the facility," said Raney.

The resort, developed in the early 60s, features hotel rooms and suites, a bar and restaurant, a health spa and fitness center, the Center Glade golf course and 72 acres of undeveloped land with a lake, which could be subdivided into 11 residential housing lots.

While the Smith estate has continued to invest to remodel and upgrade the aging property, employees say making the resort successful has been a struggle in the difficult economic environment.

Horseshoe Bend residents are closely watching the effort to sell the resort. Hillhigh has been the center of many community and family events over the years, and there is still a need for a facility like it.

The hope is, a well financed buyer will take over the property, return it to its former glory and market it as a regional destination.

Raney said one positive is the property is being sold as a turn-key operation. It will be possible for a new owner to open immediately after closing on the purchase, with rooms, the restaurant, pool and fitness center ready for use.

The property was open on Tuesday, Sept. 13 for interested bidders to tour the facility and take a close look at it.

The absolute real estate auction was held on Sept. 14 at 10 a.m. at the resort, with live, online bidding also available.

Auction results are available online at areawidenews.com. The News will also have complete details of the auction in our Sept. 22 edition.

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