On the one hundredth day since Hot Springs’ historic Majestic Hotel went up in a fiery blaze, citizens of the Spa City plan to hold a rally supporting the preservation of other downtown buildings and new revitalization efforts. It's set for Saturday afternoon.
The rally comes shortly after the Hot Springs Downtown Game Plan Task Force presented recommendations to the city on Wednesday asking for new preservation and economic development policies.
Brenda Brandenburg is an organizer of the rally and a native of Hot Springs. She says she's encouraged by the recent ground swell of interest in preventing further deterioration of downtown properties.
“You know a lot of property owners don’t have the money. They haven’t had the money because we don’t necessarily have the high tourism rate we’ve had over the last four decades,” she says. “We want to bring that back in but there’s got to be some way to assist these property owners in getting these buildings back to code. That’s kind of what really the focus has been. And that has been bringing our buildings up to code.”
The task force and Hot Springs Fire Chief Ed Davis propose to establish a new fire code for the downtown area, called the Thermal Basin Fire District Code, that would gradually introduce stricter standards for unoccupied floors of buildings. In addition, the task force advocates for the creation of a private investment fund that may assist in developing downtown properties.
“This has been 40 years of a lack of concern and almost a total neglect of our downtown area. So they were really having to tackle something big and I think that the plan that they presented on Wednesday is really wonderful because it addresses a lot of issues,” says Brandenburg.
Other of the task force’s recommendations were for the city to hire an economic development director for the downtown for projects in the area and hold regular forums for property owners and tenants.
The Rally to Restore Downtown Hot Springs is scheduled for 1 pm Saturday.