Hot Springs Task Force: Hire Downtown Development Leader

To move forward in the revitalization project of downtown Hot Springs, the Downtown Game Plan Task Force has recommended the city hire a full-time downtown development director.

It was part of the findings released by the task force Wednesday in Hot Springs, the conclusion of a four-month study after a February fire destroyed the Majestic Hotel and turned the community's attention to revitalizing the Spa City's downtown area. The task force is made up of nine community leaders.

The task force also recommended the city create an investment fund and seek assistance from the EPA, FEMA, National Parks Service and Arkansas' Congressional delegation, in addition to conducting regular forums for downtown property owners.

"Lots of people have talked about what's wrong with downtown Hot Springs, this group has thoroughly studied every aspect and comes forth today with some concrete recommendations and a list of achievable goals that will be a catalyst for this historic city's rebirth," Jim Fram, CEO of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Metro Partnership, said.

First-year plans included prioritizing projects to improve downtown for visitors and residents, in addition to attracting a performing arts venue and a public pool. The task force also recommended a union between the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Metro Partnership, and the Downtown Hot Springs Initiative.

Recommendations were also made to work with the Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts to enhance the north end of Central Avenue, in addition to forming a guide to help property owners and developers through the process of restoring old properties in the downtown area.

The task force also released 34 stretch goals, identified as ideas for improvements for downtown, dealing with downtown planning, policy, infrastructure and amenities, to be developed in the future.

The task force held three public hearings and heard from numerous leaders and officials from different communities before releasing its findings.