LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A planned widening project for busy Kanis Rd. in west Little Rock is on hold because the parent company of a hotel a few blocks from the street is tied up in bankruptcy court.
“We’re still negotiating with those as this bankruptcy case goes on,” said Ronny Loe, assistant director of the Public Works Department.
While waiting, the city is busy locking up almost all the other parcels on the stretch of road that handles 21,000 cars a day and is crumbling under the traffic. Others along the road so far have been willing to negotiate with the city.
“Some people feel like the roadway is impacting their property and we want to make sure that they are justly compensated and that's really the gist of these negotiations,” Loe said.
But the city can't negotiate with property owners when they don't know who to make a deal with.
The former management company of the nearby Embassy Suites went bankrupt in 2016. John Q Hammonds Hotels of Missouri got into a fight over loans a decade earlier. They ended their deal to run the Little Rock property in 2015, but held on to vacant tracts along Kanis. When Hammonds, the founder of the hotel holding company died, the company went to sell some three dozen hotels as part of the restructuring. Investors and creditors appealed the bankruptcy protection in Kansas City with another case tied up in Delaware. Distant courtrooms, all impacting a short stretch of a busy road in Little Rock.
“Until that bankruptcy case is settled then we're not going to be able to move forward acquiring the right of way that we need for those parcels,” Loe said. “That's what's holding us up to putting that project to bid for construction.”
Drivers will still see signs of the project, with barrels, cones and workers.
“It looks like an active construction zone right now there are utilities in there,” said Loe. “They are aware of our project and they're in there moving where they can move.”
There’s no set timetable on when the cases will be wrapped up, but the city says they will be ready to go as soon as the judges clear the way.