NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Federal grants and city leaders' hard work combine to improve a deteriorating North Little Rock neighborhood. It's been two years since a revitalization project began in the Baring Cross area.
Sipping iced tea, kids playing in the street and neighbors hanging out on front porches. That's the image city officials envision for the Baring Cross neighborhood in North Little Rock.
"People walked to work. They enjoyed a sense of community. And that's what we hope to bring back," says North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Hays.
Hays grew up in Baring Cross. Calling in while out of the country, he says he wants to bring back the "hustle and bustle" atmosphere that existed in early 50's.
"It's about people knowing each other. It's just what the old traditional neighborhoods used to be when people grew up in this country," says Hays.
But revitalizing the neighborhood hasn't been an easy process.
"It doesn't change overnight, as you know. So we expect a commitment here for several years," says Mary Beth Bowman, Executive Director for the Argenta Community Development Corporation.
She says the project started building homes just over two years ago and they have until February 20-13 to complete them. And, considering the area, they're not cheap.
"These houses are ranging from $99,000 to $110,000. We're probably the first people that have built anything new in this area for 50, 60 years, any new house. So there's not a lot of comparables," Bowman adds.
Part of the improvement project in this area includes expanding down the river trail road and with that comes a 22 million dollar privately owned apartment complex. To help deal with the increased road traffic this road behind me, 3rd Avenue, will be open soon.
"My understanding is the investment in this area over the past 2 or 3 years has been over $38 million," Bowman says.
The project sheds a positive light on the neighborhood, but it's up to residents to take the next step.
"We can get you in a house. We can get anybody in a house if they meet all the other guidelines. We'll make it work so you can have a decent, safe, affordable house," adds Bowman.
The Argenta CDC teamed up with North Little Rock, Habitat for Humanity and the North Little Rock housing authority for the second part of the rehab project.
The Housing Authority completed some home projects. Currently, Habitat for Humanity has completed and sold 12 homes, but have 4 more properties to sell.