PINE BLUFF, Ark. — A building in Pine Bluff known as the Admiral Benbow Inn has been an eyesore to residents for years— rather than demolishing it, the city is racing to put something fun in its place.
"The Admiral Benbow Inn was an iconic hotel," Becky Simpson, a lifelong Pine Bluff resident said.
Simpson said that the demolition site has been home to some fond memories that she'll never forget.
"As a kid growing up, my parents would bring me here every Sunday after church and we had Sunday brunch," she explained.
The inn hosted countless honeymoons, wedding receptions, and even high school proms over the years before gradually losing its grandeur.
"It, at one time, was a beautiful place," Simpson said.
According to Chandra Griffin, executive director for the Urban Renewal Agency in Pine Bluff, the agency bought the motel property two years ago with big plans in mind.
"The owners really didn't do anything with the property and it just continued to deteriorate," Griffin said.
She explained that they were very particular about the location.
"We wanted to have a family-oriented entertainment area and this was the spot to put it," Griffin said.
In the place of the motel, leaders now plan on building a go-kart facility.
On Wednesday, a small crowd stood together as workers began to demolish the former inn.
"It's bittersweet because it's good to see something new to come in and things, unfortunately, they come to an end," Griffin said.
Since hundreds of Arkansans use East Harding Avenue, where the track will be located, Griffin said they ultimately decided that was the best location.
The demolition will be done in phases as leaders continue their efforts to clean up the city.
Residents like Simpson are happy that old buildings are being torn down to make way for something new.
"This is something that I think the residents of Pine Bluff are really going to be excited about," Simpson said.
Griffin said that she hopes the demolition project will be done by the end of September, with the go-kart facility opening sometime in 2023.