Majestic Fire Puts Spotlight on Hot Springs' Vacant Buildings

by Luke Jones  on Monday, Mar. 17, 2014 12:00 am  

Public-Private Partnership

But the fire code changes won’t be the single solution to this problem.

“There’s no way for downtown to be developed in an economically feasible way without a public-private partnership,” Taylor said. “There has to be participation from the public sector.”

It’s happened before in Hot Springs, when in the early 2000s the National Park Service helped in the process of restoring Bathhouse Row.

At least two groups are working on the issue.

First, for the last several years, the Downtown Hot Springs Initiative has been collecting information on downtown properties.

“We’ve put together a great deal of information that the chamber and the city will hopefully be able to use to the benefit of potential developers and also to the benefit of possible sales of property, if that comes about,” said Fleischner, who is a member of the DHSI.

The chamber and the Hot Springs Metro Partnership also have a plan.

A survey is being undertaken, Fram said, of who owns which buildings downtown and what tenants are present.

“We hope to have that completed within the next 60 days. Additionally, in the wake of the Majestic Hotel fire, we’re in the process of putting together a small task force of business leaders who have an interest in downtown.”

The task force will hold a series of public hearings between March 31 and April 21, Fram said, each to collect different ideas on downtown development. At the final hearing, the task force will release a report “that either validates or revises the strategy for the redevelopment of downtown Hot Springs, and possibly add additional elements to the existing strategy.”

Fram and others are optimistic that the Majestic fire will spur development in the long-neglected downtown.



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