- Brian Chilson
- BOARDING UP: A single worker — employed by a Texas owner — has been slowly working to board up windows in the former hotel on I-30 that has neighbors unhappy.
“Enough is enough,” Planning Commissioner Keith Fountain and other residents of the Pettaway Neighborhood Association say: It’s time for the city to condemn the vacant and derelict Job Corps building at 21st and Vance and bulldoze it.
Fountain has witnessed thefts from the building with his own eyes. Windows have been knocked out and partially boarded up, and transients have lived in the building and set fires, Fountain said.
City Director Erma Hendrix raised the Job Corps issue at the Pettaway’s monthly meeting tonight at the 21st Alert Center, and several residents spoke in favor of tearing down the building. (One Central High school student, Arkiterea Harmon, suggested the building be rehabilitated for kids who have aged out of the foster care system, but, Hendrix told her, the asbestos and bad condition of the city would prevent that.) A refrain was that the eyesore, visible from Interstate 30 and 630, puts Little Rock in a bad light and expressed doubt that such a building would be allowed to stand in a more affluent neighborhood.
The city inspected the building in 2009 when Mayor Mark Stodola was considering buying it from the federal government for use as a homeless shelter, an idea the neighborhood was firmly opposed to.
Hendrix said the building is now owned by a Texas concern. I couldn’t find any information on the owner tonight.
The neighborhood plans to circulate petitions to be presented to the City Board of Directors at its Feb. 7 meeting. The city has made it clear, however, that it doesn’t have the power to force demolition of a building, a hotel before it was used by the Job Corps.
The board of the association also noted that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ plan to put a veterans center at the Cook Jeep building at Tenth and Main was “a done deal.” (The VA is moving forward, but the head of the agency, to whom U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin has complained, hasn’t been heard from yet on the issue.) There was no discussion; Fountain said later the neighborhood’s concerns are focused on the Job Corps building.