FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Fayetteville City Council approved a resolution for the city to purchase four apartment buildings on West End Avenue. The goal in mind is to purchase the structures and demolish them to ease flooding concerns in the area.
The apartment complex, West End Studio Apartments, is low income housing that has flooded numerous times over the years. The most recent happened in May 2022.
Gayle McKenzie lives on West Valley Drive. The street is adjacent to West End Avenue. Her street sees a lot of flooding after heavy rain. She remembers in May when flooding displaced a lot of her neighbors and left residents who lived in the West End Apartments without a home.
“They had no place to go, no way to take anything, because their cars were already flooded. It was just awful,” said McKenzie.
Alan Pugh is a staff engineer for the City of Fayetteville. He said plans are in motion to demolish the apartments and come up with solutions to alleviate flooding in the immediate area.
“That would remain open space. We could potentially create some floodplain storage there by lowering some ground after the apartment complexes are gone, do some reforestation,” said Pugh.
That flooding back in May caused significant damage to the West End Apartments. The owner had to evacuate the apartments for renovations, leaving those residents scrambling to find a place to live.
“Our community resources division, Yolanda Fields and her group, do outreach to those individuals on a daily basis to try to rehome them and find them accommodations elsewhere,” said Pugh.
Demolishing the West End Studio Apartments after purchase and creating relief to flooding victims will only impact those in the immediate area- mostly along the roads near West End Avenue. Pugh said more may need to be done to solve flooding near Hamestring Creek, such as elevating structures.
“We are in talks with some of the neighbors on Valley Drive about potentially putting together a FEMA application to be able to do some improvements like that,” said Pugh.
McKenzie and her neighbors were pushing for the decision to purchase the West End Studio Apartments. She thinks it could be a big benefit to the area.
“I think it would really, really help this whole area. Not just Valley Drive but the surrounding streets that also flood terribly at certain times,” said McKenzie.
A representative for the owner of the West End Studio Apartments said the owner is open to purchasing offers.
With 50 units of low income housing now projected to be demolished, if the purchase is successful, many are hoping more low income housing will be built in the near future to supplement that loss.
City council member, Sonia Harvey, was one of the advocates for that additional low income housing in another area of the city.