Construction Begins on 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, Ark.

Eighteen months after it announced plans to build it, 21c Museum Hotels has commenced construction on a new hotel in Bentonville, Ark., it announced last week.

The fourth in a collection of art-themed boutique hotels that began with the original 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, the new property will be located in downtown Bentonville's town square, where it will be within walking distance of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as well as the worldwide headquarters of Walmart — the owners of which, the Walton family, are partners in the hotel.

"We created the first hotel in 2006 as much out of our love of the arts and revitalization of downtown Louisville as we did for a hotel investment," 21c Founder and Chairman Steve Wilson said in 2010, when the hotel project was announced. "My wife and fellow co-founder Laura Lee Brown and I wanted to make our hometown an even more vibrant place to live, work and visit. In the process, we discovered, almost by accident, that art can drive commerce while serving the community. Members of the Walton family expressed a similar desire to support the further renewal of downtown Bentonville and to create a hub for culture, entertainment and outdoor activities in the city."

Originally scheduled to open in 2012, the new 100,000-square-foot 21c Museum Hotel is now slated to open in January 2013 and will have 104 guest rooms, a spa, a fitness center, a 125-seat restaurant and 12,000 square feet of exhibition, meeting and event space that will double as a public art museum.