LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A controversial Little Rock apartment’s residents breathed a sigh of relief this week after learning water won’t be shut off. Last month, Central Arkansas Water informed them that services would be cut off Sept. 1 after the apartment’s ownership group got behind on bills.
The Big Country Chateau has been in the news since July. Last week, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced a lawsuit related to the ownership group Apex pocketing money intended to be used for electric and water services.
“Big Country Chateau defrauded tenants of this money and violated Arkansas law when it leased housing units to the public despite failing to ensure the units met adequate standards,” Rutledge said.
The company owed more than $200,000 to Central Arkansas Water. After tentatively reaching an agreement to continue services last week, the company confirmed Tuesday residents will continue having water.
“Central Arkansas Water has been in contact with the account holder to reach a resolution on this matter,” said a company spokesperson in a statement. “Big Country Chateau residents will not experience a service interruption Sept. 1. We will continue pursuing our purpose to protect public health by providing outstanding water services.”
A manager who asked to not be identified said the water company has already been out to the property. The apartments also paid electric bills that totaled more than $70,000.
The water debacle tipped off a series of habitability questions that resulted in two city inspections and Rutledge’s lawsuit. The first inspection revealed 337 “life safety violations,” mostly related to smoke detectors. During the second, investigators said 196 of those were compliant.
The second inspection revealed 47 citations. The manager revealed code enforcement came Monday to deliver them and ultimately only gave around 20 citations. A city spokesperson confirmed that information.
Some residents said they want the complex to be razed. Others said they simply want things to be fixed so the property is safe and livable.
“Upgrade it to where it needs to be,” said Hasaunee Shaw, who said she moved to the apartment from New York. “Other than that, I don’t know where people are going to go.”