A $35 million project is underway in Pine Bluff to restore the once-grand Hotel Pines. The 105-year-old structure at the corner of 5th Avenue and Main Street was designed by George Mann, the same architect who designed the Arkansas state Capitol and the Marion Hotel in Little Rock.
In 2014, KUAR reported that after about a half-century of being abandoned, the hotel was crumbling. It had once been the center of social life in Pine Bluff, but like the city itself, was decaying.
Since then a non-profit became interested in restoring the six-story hotel, which was purchased for $1 on Jan. 17, 2017. It is hoped work will be completed by 2020, with the hotel to feature 84 guest rooms along with a bar, restaurant and retail space. It's also hoped the project can help revitalize the city.
Arkansas Business Managing Editor Jan Cottingham wrote about the current restoration effort in this week’s issue:
More than a century later, Pine Bluff Rising hopes to achieve a similar goal with the $35 million renovation — really more of a restoration and rebuilding — of the hotel: attract visitors to downtown Pine Bluff. It’s part of a larger effort by Go Forward Pine Bluff to revitalize the once-thriving city along the Arkansas River.
"The basic idea of the hotel is as anchor tenant for the redevelopment of the downtown area," said Caleb McMahon, economic development director for the Economic Development Alliance of Jefferson County and a member of the Pine Bluff Rising board. "It’s going to create foot traffic that will then spur growth and shopping areas and things like that."
You can read Cottingham's full story here or listen to the interview above.