Questions raised about former bank building downtown

Published: Oct. 27, 2014 at 5:24 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 27, 2014 at 10:00 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A once historic building in downtown Jonesboro is now raising safety concerns. The former Citizens Bank building was deemed historic in 1963, but after many years of the building remaining empty, the city of Jonesboro says it has become dangerous.

Paneling from the side of the structure is falling off causing the city to block off parts of the sidewalk for safety.

Cookie Kinman has lived in Jonesboro for more than 30 years. She said, "It used to be one of the most beautiful buildings on Main Street, and it's a shame to see it going downhill like it is." She was walking to the library when she realized the sidewalk was closed.

Her first thought was wondering if the building was falling apart. She was worried something might fall and hit her. "It is scary to see, and even looking up and seeing the piece of the facade or whatever that is up there hanging off the edge, and it's moved quite a bit."

Kinman explained she also thinks the building isn't pretty to look at anymore. Doors have boards over them and windows are fogged up. City officials met to figure out how they can make it safe.

Mayor Harold Perrin said, "We are going to make it safe today on the outside, and the next step is the overall picture, and see what is best for everyone." He explained workers were removing paneling off the side of the building, as well as debris from the roof.

It will take some time to figure out if the building can be revamped. "Several things can go there. The question is until you get all this ownership, and until you get this land lease worked out, and some taxes are behind, some aren't. We've just got to get a clear picture," Perrin said.

Kinman hopes to see the building saved and has some ideas for what could be done with it. She said, "I'd put a restaurant in the bottom part of it, and put condos and apartments in the top half and let people live in it…The longer it isn't occupied, the worse it becomes."

The future of the building itself is unknown, but Mayor Perrin assured the people of Jonesboro, safety is the number one priority. He will be meeting with other officials later this week to discuss what the next step is for the tallest building in downtown Jonesboro.

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