LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – People who live and develop in the Central High Historic District in Little Rock fear the neighborhood could lose its status and perks if the city does not make the area more attractive for investment.
Paul Dodds lives in the historic district and invests in homes throughout the area.
“I’ve been in other cities where I’ve seen areas revived,” Dodds said. “I thought that could happen here.”
Dodds said tax breaks that come along with investment in this area have been around 45%. His restoration work would not have been possible without them.
“Without the tax credits, that would’ve been a vacant lot,” Dodds said.
Dodds said the tax credits come from the historic district’s federal designation.
“At least 51% of the buildings have to be ‘contributing structures’ to the historic district,” Dodds said. “That means they have to basically look more or less the way they did when they were built.”
Dodds said the neighborhood now hovers at around 53%. If a few buildings fall into states of disrepair, the status goes away. That could pull the rest of the neighborhood down.
“Once an area starts getting dominated by vacant lots, it’s really hard to bring back,” Dodds said.
In July, the board passed a temporary resolution to create a six-month ban on demolitions and exterior building permits. Dodds said good intent was there, but he thinks this puts more of a burden on investors.
Dodds said he wants to see a resolution favorable to would-be investors and staff assigned to helping people apply for their tax credits.
“Let’s make our downtown attractive,” Dodds said. “Let’s invest in it.”
Dodds believes not doing so could lead to the ruin of one of Arkansas’ historic neighborhoods.