Downtown Building Approved For Demolition

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, May 31, 2005

By By Rusty Garrett
Another Garrison Avenue building, a victim of time and neglect, is facing demolition.
Fort Smith's Central Business Improvement District Commission voted Wednesday to allow the demolition of a building at 1101 Garrison Ave., owned by Bennie Westphal.
Westphal told commissioners he had acquired the building in hopes of outfitting it with apartments. But the roof of the building has collapsed, leaving much of it unsalvageable and restoring the rest prohibitively expensive.
Westphal presented commission members a copy of a report prepared by Hawkins-Weir Engineers Inc., outlining the structural deficiencies of the 13,678-square-foot structure.
Commissioners Sam Sicard, Richard Griffin and Birnie Pryor voted to allow the demolition. Westphal, also a commission member, abstained. Member Carl Corley did not attend the meeting.
Commission members also endorsed a plan to remove some plants threatening to take over downtown beds. Parks and Recreation Director Mike Alsup said the plants will be replaced with an assortment of hollies and junipers.
Jayne Hughes, the city's downtown development coordinator, also updated commissioners on activity, including:
Renovation to the old Como Hotel building, at Fifth and A streets, which owner Griffin said will be converted to office space.
Renovation and plans to locate a bakery in a building at 613 Garrison Ave.
Issuance of a permit for construction at 301 Garrison Ave., the proposed location of Sam &Ella's Chicken Palace.
Exterior renovation by Westphal of retail space at 615 Garrison Ave.
Hughes also said she will be adding information and providing construction progress updates on the CBID Web site,, in the near future.
Hughes told commission members she met with residents of Moffett who are planning a riverfront recreation area at the foot of the Oklahoma end of the Garrison Avenue bridge. She said plans include developing a boat dock and a fishing pier.
The National Park Service Web site says Moffett is working with Land Legacy, a Tulsa-based conservation organization, and other Oklahoma state agencies to preserve the 30-acre site.