HOT SPRINGS – At a press conference today atop the Exchange Street Parking Plaza overlooking historic Bathhouse Row, the City of Hot Springs announced a new incentive designed to spur downtown residential development: the waiver of building permit fees for new dwellings within city limits, effective immediately and until January 1, 2015. Passed as an ordinance by the Hot Springs Board of Directors at last night’s regularly scheduled meeting, the permit holiday is designed to stimulate new home building within the city, particularly in the Thermal Basin Fire District, a downtown area currently defined by the city as having a number of historic buildings needing safety improvements.
The waiver applies to single family dwellings city-wide and single family, duplex and multiple family dwellings within the TBFD. Since the waiver also applies to 2014-permitted residential projects already underway, the ordinance enables a fee rebate. The incentive will cost the city an estimated $33,602 in lost revenue.
“We envision downtown as an attractive, vibrant place where more residents will live, enhancing the safety and economic vitality of the area,” said City Manager David Watkins. “The permit holiday is designed to stimulate reinvestment in the center of the city, including reoccupying upper floors and filling downtown storefronts, creating a more livable downtown and energizing adjacent historic neighborhoods.”
Watkins also referenced recent and upcoming public investment projects that reflect the Board of Directors’ continued emphasis on downtown and that are supported by goals and policies in the city’s recently-updated Comprehensive Plan. Guided by the plan, the city continues to leverage state and federal funding and forge public-private partnerships to make infrastructure, safety, walkability and aesthetic improvements in downtown Hot Springs.