The sale of 829 Central Ave. marks the third downtown purchase by MyRedAnnie 32 LLC. in the past month and the seventh sale of the year for Amber Henson, owner/broker of Urban Living and Development, Inc.
The new owners, Scott and Katie Hamby, also purchased 831 and 833 Central Ave., and have "progressive plans" to "contribute to the expansion of downtown Hot Springs," they said in a news release issued Thursday by Urban Living and Development.
The storefront at 829 Central Ave. has been home to John's Shoe Hospital since 1908 when Pius Walknowitz and his family opened the shoe repair store. It was later passed down to his son, Joe, who hired 15-year-old David Garner in 1955. Joe went on to pass the torch down to Garner, who has owned the business since and taught his own son the way of the cobbler.
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Hamby, vice president of operations at Sigma Supply of North America, is a Hot Springs native and an heir to the Hamby dynasty, having spent his childhood only a few streets away from the new acquisitions.
Garner has known the Hambys for over five decades, according to the release, who say they are "committed to preserving this iconic location."
The Hambys have given Garner 90 days to finish his work and pack up shop, which is a relief to the 83-year-old Garner, who says he was "hunting a way to get out anyway." He will accept new shoe repair jobs until the end of the month, after which time he will work to finish the jobs he has remaining.
Garner says he plans to take a few months off, but may continue to do a small amount of shoe repair work from his home or at another location available to him.
The former owner of the property, Burt McFarland, said the decision to sell was difficult, but he has faith the Hambys will do great things with the building.
"It was a very difficult decision I made to sell my building at 829 Central Ave.," McFarland said in the release.
"When I bought this building, it came with a wonderful tenant. Not only did I get a great historical building, but I also gained a great friend in Mr. Garner. I am so glad to see many of these beautiful buildings being restored and I'm looking forward to seeing what the new owner does with the building," he said.
The Hambys said they are excited to become part of the downtown community with their recent purchases although they have yet to figure out what they will do with the building.
"We have yet to finalize the purpose of the space," Scott Hamby said. "But we will be meticulous in selecting occupants who complement the atmosphere of this particular section of downtown."