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Earlier this year Pettaway Neighborhood resident, Annie O’Neal was found. Ms. O’Neal was reported missing in the summer of 2011. Ms. O’Neal’s family and community are grateful for her safe return.
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Last month Bank of America approved a loan which they had initially denied allowing the way for the sale of Little Rock’s first Container Home. Located at the corner of East 21st Street and Commerce in the heart of the Pettaway neighborhood, the new home is owned by Valarie Abrams, daughter of longtime Arkansas Civil Rights Advocate and Community Organizer, Annie Abrams.
The following article, Bank of America denies loan for LR container house appeared in the Arkansas Times. Here’s an excerpt from the article. Enjoy!
Bank of America denies loan for LR container house: Too “unusual” to appraise, bank says.
by Leslie Newell Peacock
Valarie Abrams appeared on the cover of the Arkansas Times last March, standing on the empty lot on 21st Street where her new home was to be built, a big smile on her face. The article was about the rise of the Pettaway neighborhood east of Main Street, which had suffered blows from gangs in the 1980s and a tornado in the ’90s, thanks to efforts of the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation. Abrams was in line to get her first house, which would also be Little Rock’s first home constructed from steel cargo containers, a green idea trending in new construction. She’d signed a contract with the DLRCDC to buy the house a year previously and was anxious to see the house go up.
But a couple of weeks ago, the Bank of America decided not to loan Abrams the money she needs to buy the $120,000 house. It’s not because she can’t afford it — she’s qualified through theNeighborhood Assistance Corp. of America, which works with Bank of America. It’s because, the bank has informed NACA, the home is too “unusual” to accurately appraise.
According to a spokesman in the Little Rock office of NACA, it’s the first time Bank of America has declined to finance a home in the NACA program in Little Rock, which began six years ago here.
Not only could Abrams lose out, but redevelopment in Pettaway, where a dozen homes have been built or remodeled over the past few years, could be stalled. “When something like this happens, it throws a wrench in the process,” said Scott Grummer, DLRCDC director. The DLRCDC needs to sell the house built for Abrams, at 421 E. 21st St., and the mirror-image container house next door, at 417 E. 21st, to fund its ongoing redevelopment of the neighborhood.
Bank of America has financed mortgages on other new homes in Pettaway, including two that would also be considered unusual — modern one-story homes designed by the University of Arkansas School of Architecture’s Design Build program, the first at 1519 Commerce St., a 1,100-square-foot home that sold for $109,000, and the second at 1805 Commerce.
Abrams, 52, an administrative assistant at General Mechanical Contractors, signed a contract with the DLRCDC for the 1,250-square-foot house April 30, 2010. She has jumped through every financial hoop NACA has required, including taking a course in home ownership and having her bank statements scrutinized every month. The three-bedroom, two-bath home has been fitted with a gleaming kitchen from IKEA — including a side-by-side refrigerator — and bamboo flooring. Abrams chose the light fixtures and the Revlon red paint on the living area wall. At her request, the wall was painted with a design that matches the blown-dandelion IKEA light fixture in the kitchen; the room is also lit by cable lights. Constructed of steel and tightly fitted, utility costs in the home aren’t expected to top $100 a month. The DLRCDC’s Grummer said the agency intentionally builds higher-end houses — those over $100,000 — to lift the neighborhood.
Abrams has prayed over the house. Her teen-aged daughter and the niece she’s raising have been eager to move into the house. She started packing her apartment at the first of January.
On Jan. 18, just as she thought everything was taken care of, she got an e-mail from NACA:
“Good Afternoon! After receipt of the third appraisal on this property, Bank of America has declined the loan due to the property being unusual, therefore being unacceptable. Bank of America would be happy to finance another home for you, but it has to be on the acceptable property list. Please advise how I can assist you in moving forward.” It was signed by the NACA agent assigned to Abrams. “I am devastated,” Abrams, 52, said Wednesday. (Click Here To Read The Rest Of This Article)
Incorporated in 1992, the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation is a nonprofit organization, run by volunteers of the community, who strive to improve the quality of life for people living downtown, with a focus on providing diverse housing opportunities. DLRCDC’s primary focus has been the historic Pettaway neighborhood east of Main Street and south of I-630, as well as the South Main Corridor (SoMa).
KATV Channel 7 recently reported that the Downtown Little Rock Community Development Corporation and the University of Arkansas Community Design Center were awarded a $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant to assist in the creation of the Pettaway Neighborhood Revitalization Plan.
The grant is heralded as a great step toward the revival of the historic, 60-block Pettaway neighborhood. The aim is to blend new development within the fabric of the turn of the century urban neighborhood.
The Arkansas Times reported earlier this year, the building of Little Rock’s first container home (“Container houses steel Pettaway’s housing boomlet: A new breed of recycled houses, or ‘steel box residence,’ help community renovation,” Leslie Peacock, 3/16/11).
The University of Arkansas Fay Jones School of Architecture has partnered with DLRCDC to design and build two affordable, sustainable homes (Cantilevered Home and Modular Home) in the Pettaway neighborhood. They plan to team up to design and build at least 10 more modern structures in the neighborhood.