Hot Springs & Pine Bluff Left Holding The Bag After Buildings Decay

Sep 14, 2015

Jefferson County Courthouse Pine Bluff.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

As officials try to turn Little Rock’s Main Street into a vibrant Creative Corridor other central Arkansas towns are sorting through their own urban plans. Both Hot Springs and Pine Bluff have recently sought solutions to clear debris from collapsed structures with cash strapped owners. 

Mark Friedman has been reporting on the issue with Arkansas Business.

“Cities are trying to do more to be proactive so buildings as they age don’t collapse. The cities do have some tools they can use if the buildings do collapse such as cleaning it up themselves and placing liens on the property so that when an owner tries to sell they would have to clean up the liens first. Unfortunately, like in Pine Bluff’s case they weren’t sure if they were ever going to get the $300,000 to recoup cleaning up that site. Their hands were kind of tied,” said Friedman.

While the city of Pine Bluff couldn’t afford to intervene a buyer did emerge, but without any immediate ambitions of redevelopment.

“The mayor Pine Bluff Debbie Hollingsworth said the city considers itself lucky that they found a Fordyce businessman named Danny Bradshaw who worked with a real estate broker to acquire the properties for practically nothing and was able to take the bricks away and clean up the site,” said Friedman.

Hot Springs did have the financial resources to try and blot out the eyesore of what became of the Majestic Hotel following a fire.

“The city tried to get the owner of the property to clean it up. The owner also worked with ADEQ to remove some of the rubble. The problem there was that asbestos was mixed in with the rubble so cleaning it up wasn’t an easy task,” he said. “The owner didn’t have the money to get that done so the city stepped in and spent about $675,000 to buy the site.”

Read Friedman’s article for Arkansas Business here.