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Friday, February 5, 2016

LR BOARD OF DIRECTORS KOWTOW TO SEN. HUTCHINSON AND APPROVE REZONING FOR HIS "RESTAURANT"



The Little Rock Board of Director's approved an ordinance that permits the rezoning of the proposed private club of Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson for use as a members only "restaurant". 

Prior to the board meeting, a seated Hutchinson was greeted by several board members and the city manager (who showed Hutchinson our card to speak in opposition of his proposed exclusive private club).


One board member we visited with before the meeting told us that "no board member was going to vote against it because he was a state senator" (and a relative of the governor) and that she "is a Republican and was going to vote for it".  We don't expect that Director Hendrix will ever be invited to the club as a member or as a guest of a member.


HENDRIX SUPPORTED HER FELLOW REPUBLICAN


Hutchinson told board members that he and his partners "were excited to present this application to you, to preserve and improve a landmark historic building in Little Rock". 

We don't know what needs improving, quoting from an article that appeared in the January 8, 2016 edition of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Hutchinson stated "the property's previous owners did an extensive renovation on the house in 2012,  and few interior changes are necessary." There are plans to create a humidor room for cigar smoking and to replace carpeting on the third floor with hardwood.

"We don't have to do anything. We could serve dinner there tonight," Hutchinson said.


In fact dinner was served in the Packet House for a scene in the soon to be release move God's Not Dead 2.

THE REAR DINING ROOM USED IN A SCENE IN GOD'S NOT DEAD 2

The defunct restaurant still had tables set for meals and the kitchen was used to prepare food for the film crew and actors.

 

Hutchinson, appearing to hold back tears added "it's a house that I have driven by a thousand times and I still can't help myself, every time I slow down and take a look at it, because it's so beautiful and there is such rich history there". Hutchinson stated that he and his partners want to start a "Business Club, like big cities have". Hutchinson also stated it would be like the Harvard Club.




Dillard's Inc. sent a letter to the Little Rock Planning Commission objecting to the rezoning request. The MacDonald-Wait-Newton House (commonly known as the Packet House) sits between the Dillard's Corporate Office and their low profile data center. The retailer's senior vice president of real estate and finance, Chris B. Johnson, filed a letter with the city back in December 2015 expressing concern over the use of the property as a private club. Among the concerns in the letter were about parking, drivers leaving under the influence of alcohol and the potential for "illicit activities." Clearly they know about the senator and his relatives.

"Dillard has not and will not grant any cross-parking rights to the owners or occupants of the Property, as all of our available parking spaces on both of our adjacent properties are needed for our employees and visitors so that we may conduct our daily business operations. We have experienced issues, during the period of time when the Property was operated as the Packet House Grill, with patrons of the restaurant parking on our properties without our consent, depriving Dillard of its use and enjoyment of its properties. The ABC calls this not being a "good neighbor" and can issue fines for a club that fails to be a "good neighbor".



We expect if the 1836 Club becomes a reality, Dillard's will erect fences to protect their property and prevent club members from using the adjacent parking lots on their property. An inebriated club member could smash into their data center and shut down the whole company. 

The 1836 Club is already conducting business (as their facebook page indicates) although they do not have a business license from the city of Little Rock. With Hutchinson's history of getting his license to practice law suspended for not paying fee's, fines for Ethics violations for taking campaign funds as personal income and his and his partner's history of evading their obligation to pay state income taxes that resulted in the State of Arkansas placing liens against them, this venture seems doomed from the start. 

Maybe Dillard's can place camera's towards the club and stream video.  That might prove entertaining.