The Friedman-Mincer Building at 1100 Garrison Ave. will live to see another day. The Central Business Improvement District (CBID) voted unanimously on Thursday (July 19) to deny demolition of the 101-year-old building to current owners Jimmy and Joseph Meadows.
The Meadows had intended on renovating the building, converting it to 14 apartments and a retail area, but discovered after the purchase “it had decayed to the point that the plan was no longer financially feasible,” CBID Development Director Jayne Hughes told The City Wire on Friday (July 20).
“The easternmost inside wall caved in, so we asked them to get the immediate danger handled so it couldn’t collapse into the street and hurt pedestrians. They told us they wanted to demolish the building, but in a Historic District, you can’t just demolish a structure or you could be in danger of losing your status.”
Regarding the CBID decision to refuse demolition, Hughes added, “The design standards are online, on the Downtown Fort Smith website, and if the commission does what they’re supposed to do, they will stand by those guidelines. In those guidelines, there is a section on demolition that makes it pretty clear. The property owner has to prove a, b, c, or d, or whatever it is in order to receive a demolition grant, and it’s pretty tough because we don’t want buildings to come down unless they just have to, especially one as significant as that (Friedman-Mincer).”
Engineer Jason Myers of Myers-Beatty Engineering determined that removal of the damaged portion meant the current status of the building is no longer a threat to pedestrians or traffic.
The Meadows can appeal to the Fort Smith Board of Directors, Hughes said, but added that such an appeal has not been filed with her or Wally Bailey, director of Fort Smith Planning and Zoning, at this time.
Hughes said she still has hopes for the building as well as the Meadows’ involvement in its future. “They did such a beautiful job with the Davis Building. I’d love to see them do something with that building as well.” (The Davis Building Hughes refers to is currently the site of Sake Sushi Bar and 14 upstairs apartments.)
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Jim Webb, owner of Bravo’s Italian Restaurant and Webby D’s, announced that he plans to move the site of Bravo’s, currently located at 4700 Rogers Ave., to a building at the intersection of Fifth Street and Garrison Avenue.
Hughes said the new site of the restaurant will open in the next “60 to 90 days.”