Long List of Code Violatons at Majestic Hotel Before Fire

HOT SPRINGS, AR -- Two weeks ago today an historic hotel, more than 100 years old, went up in flames.

Tonight, we're learning more about what Hot Springs city leaders did to try and prevent the Majestic Hotel fire.

Talk to just about any Hot Springs resident and they'll give you a memory of the Majestic.

One bystander said, "That was the restaurant there and 20 years ago my husband and I had our first date there."

Another person said, "We had our wedding reception in the Majestic."

In the 1950's the hotel became so popular, construction crews added on to it.

But in 2006, when the Majestic closed, the hotel began to fade.

Photos from inside the hotel, two years ago, show it's condition with the ceiling caving in, moldy floors and broken windows.

In 2012, a non-profit organization and the hotel's current owner made plans to turn the building into apartments and retail space.

But according to city documents owner Garrison Hassenflu fell short on his promise and over the months, the code violations piled up.

Issues ranged from high weeds to a leaking roof and worse.

Local historian Liz Robbins said, "I knew that old section of the Majestic might have to be torn down in the near future."

In an evaluation of the hotel in 2012, the fire chief predicted the hotel's ultimate demise stating, "In the event of a fire it is anticipated portions of the yellow brick will begin to fail at an early state in the fire's development. To place the cities firefighters inside the yellow brick building under those firefighting conditions is to needlessly expose them to injury or death."

But the city of Hot Springs gave Hassenflu "extra" time to make repairs, citing the historic significance of the building.

That flexibility ended last year, when no one fixed the large list of problems.

In an August 2013 letter to Hassenflu, the Hot Springs fire chief called the hotel a tragic eyesore and wrote, "The city of Hot Springs no longer can extend the courtesy to you and your alleged re-development plans."

The chief stated if Hassenflu didn't take action soon, the city could move forward with condemning the building.

Just six months after that letter was written, the hotel went up in flames.

Hassenflu's company is based out of Kansas City, Missouri.

We tried calling his office and cell phone, but so far he hasn't returned our messages.

Investigators are still looking into the cause of the Majestic Hotel fire.

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