Hot Springs leaders are initiating public hearings and a community-wide effort to plan “what’s next” for historic downtown Hot Springs in the wake of a major fire that destroyed the landmark Majestic Hotel.
The Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and its economic development partner organization, Metro Partnership, have commissioned a Downtown Development Strategy Task Force, which will host a series of public hearings to gather ideas and information that can be put to use in an action plan the group will present to the community.
“A lot of people have been wringing their hands and fretting over the future of our historic downtown, said Jim Fram, President of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce. “I believe we can help real projects get traction rather quickly through these public hearings.”
Each hearing will be designed to educate the task force on different aspects of urban development and historic properties, he said.
The time schedule is as follows:
- Monday, March 31st the first hearing will review current plans and activities;
- Hearing #2 on Monday, April 7 will evaluate the ideas and challenges of current downtown property owners;
- Monday, April 14 the third hearing will evaluate the ideas and successes of officials from benchmark communities in order to evaluate the concepts that produced successes in their respective communities; and
- At the final hearing on April 21st 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.
The hearings will be held at Hot Springs City Hall.
Nine community leaders will make up the task force. They will be assisted by Chamber and Metro Partnership staff. The members are:
- Corey Alderdice, Director, Arkansas School of Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts. The school is located in downtown Hot Springs.
- Courtney Crouch, President of Selected Funeral and Life Insurance Company. Crouch was responsible for the renovation of the 1912 Post Office into his company’s headquarters.
- Keeley DeSalvo, President of PS Foods. She owns two businesses in historic downtown, the Pancake Shop and the Savory Pantry.
- Randy Fale is District 6 City Director. He is a retired hospital administrator.
- Mark Fleischner, owner of Lauray’s The Diamond Center. His family has owned property and retail businesses in downtown Hot Springs for three generations.
- Paul Riser is 2014 Chairman of the Hot Springs Metro Partnership and owner of Riser Ford.
- Bryan Smith is 2014 Chairman of the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and Vice President of Alliance Rubber.
- Les Warren is a past Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and President of Hot Springs Title Company.