After the fire, people from all across the state wanted to make sure Hot Springs' history would be protected and city leaders wasted no time taking advantage of the extra interest. Mike Pettey owns the Ohio Club, the oldest bar in Arkansas. He said, "This is one of the places that almost every known gangster you can name has been in here."
Historic buildings, like the Ohio Club, line Bath House Row in downtown Hot Springs, but on some of those buildings, decades of wear and tear shows. Pettey said, "One of the things that is very important to all of us involved in downtown is preserving the old stuff while bringing in the new."
Chamber of Commerce President Jim Fram says re-development can come with a steep price tag. After the popular Majestic Hotel went up in flames, interest in saving other buildings in Hot Springs became more important. Fram said, "What happened overnight was this ground swell of support and endorsement and enthusiasm for the development and preservation for downtown." Fram says to keep that momentum going, the city planned public meetings starting next week.They'll talk about saving the city's historic buildings, adding more fire protection and possibly bringing in new business.
The city of Hot Springs will begin a month-long series of meetings on downtown re-development on Monday. The goal is to come up with a clear plan of action and with all the recent support, city leaders hope investors will be lining up to help.