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Potential car wash in downtown Little Rock gets push-back

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The potential for a historic building in downtown Little Rock to be knocked down and replaced with a car wash is causing some push-back.

At the corner of 3rd and Broadway in downtown Little Rock, sits the Gay Oil Company building.

“There used to be a gentleman who used to do automotive repair in here,” Patricia Blick said.

Built in the early 1900s, it has been vacant for almost five years and was added to the National Register list in 2017. 

“It’s a busy intersection. We have other wonderful historic resources in our vicinity,” Blick said.

But now, a potential buyer is seeking approval to tear it down and wants to replace it with a car wash.

“We were mortified by the proposal,” Blick said.

Patricia Blick with the Quapaw Quarter Association said the construction of the Bubble King car wash is inappropriate for the location.

“This is not necessarily what we want folks to see when they’re coming into Little Rock from our wonderful Broadway Bridge,” she said.

Since the developer submitted their plan for re-zoning, Blick said it has received a negative response, prompting an online petition to stop the city from approving the application.

“It’s supposed to close on Monday,” Blick said. “This is an installation that’s more appropriate for a suburban location.”

The current owner said he does not want to see the building torn down and was unaware of plans for demolition when the contract was executed.

“Rather than tearing something down to build something new, let’s re-purpose, let’s reuse,” Jeremiah Russell said.

Jeremiah Russell with LivWell development said he is working on an offer to save the building. He said it’s in too good of shape to be torn down.

“A lot of the interiors, especially on the second floor, are still there. The original office layouts are all existing,” he said. “Perhaps a microbrewery would work great here.”

We reached out to the potential new owner and have not heard back.

The application was removed from the next Planning Commission agenda because it did not have authorization from the owner of the building to apply for the re-zoning, but they can still re-apply.

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