New beginning on tap for Shreveport’s Arlington Hotel
SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — From a falling facade, to broken windows, the historic Arlington Hotel in Shreveport’s downtown has been vacant since 1990.
But for the first time in decades, the old building will soon see new life.
The Metropolitan Planning Commission has voted to approve a special use permit for the Larsen Family LP to turn the former hotel into a distillery, French-style restaurant and a speak-easy bar, KTBS-TV reported.
The man behind the project is Shreveport architect Kevin Bryan. It will be called the “Every Man a King” Distillery. The name stems from famed Louisiana senator and former Gov. Huey Long, nicknamed the Kingfish. While seeking re-election in 1930, Long promised to make every man a king. It was a message voters had never heard before.
The project also means one less place for vagrants to hang out in.
“I think that once we realized that this is going to be a situation that’s going to be here, you can’t hide them or relocate them or put them out of sight, you have to address the issues that this city has. It’s not only Shreveport that deals with homelessness, you have to develop new programs that deals with some of the needs of the persons in these unfortunate circumstances,” said Alan Clark, the commission’s executive director.
In the early 1900′s the Arlington was the spot for weary travelers looking to get out of stuffy rail cars. It had more than 40 rooms and was one of the swankier spots in the city. It eventually went from an exclusive spot to an eyesore and was even deemed a “demolition by neglect,” which is a process under which a property deteriorates because no one maintains it.
Cleaning up around this historic building may be the easy part. Inside, construction crews will have a difficult job. Multiple fires have not only gutted much of the Arlington’s 22,000-square-foot interior, but also caused the roof to collapse.
Crews will have to excavate damaged parts of the building and then stabilize parts of the building that aren’t damaged.
Bryan’s plans also suggest a multi-building development. The “Every Man a King” Distillery will be its own entity, separate from the other parts of the building and with a courtyard.
Not everyone is happy about the plans. They want something geared toward helping the youth.
“The youth need something better than just somewhere to come drink or buy beer and get alcohol from. What they need are things like that park they’re building over there, something productive,” said Graylon Henderson, a nearby resident.
Information from: KTBS-TV, http://ktbs.com