Council plans to buy and demolish vacant apartment complex to deal with flooding in West Fayetteville

The vacant units in the West End apartment complex make up four structures on West End Avenue off Wedington Drive just east of Interstate 49 in Fayetteville. (Todd Gill/Fayetteville Flyer)

Fayetteville officials would like to purchase a vacant apartment complex so it can be demolished and turned into green space as part of an effort to combat flooding on the west side of town.

Next week, the city council will consider authorizing an offer to buy the West End apartments off Wedington Drive, just east of Interstate 49. The plan, according to city engineer Alan Pugh, would to demolish the complex and convert it to an open area. .

The 50-unit complex, located in a diversion channel near Hamestring Creek, tends to flood during heavy rains. The two largest events occurred in April 2017 and May 2022, when at least 2 inches of rain fell over a 45-minute period, Pugh said.

Flooding in May led to the evacuation of nearly 30 West End residents by emergency crews. Many residents lost the majority of their possessions and some people’s vehicles were destroyed, Pugh said. Once the water had gone, the residents were all relocated to other areas and the owner put the property up for sale.

The complex is not the only property in the area to experience flooding during heavy rains, but its impermeable surface is a major contributor to flooding issues in surrounding neighborhoods.

The city commissioned a flood study to look at ways to mitigate flooding in the area, Pugh said. The study looked at the potential positive effects of adding detention areas, widening drainage channels, and constructing larger culverts in the neighborhood. These measures alone, however, will not solve the problem.

“Unfortunately, our flood study indicated that even in combination, many of these things weren’t moving the needle far enough to help these residents,” Pugh said. “Really, the best way to solve flooding for these particular apartments would be to buy them and remove the structures.”

(Todd Gill/Fayetteville Flyer)

Pugh said the city recently paid to have the property appraised. That report listed a value of $1.39 million, which is roughly the asking price of $1.4 million.

However, Pugh said the complex is currently under contract with another buyer, so even if the city council accepts the plan, the city’s purchase would be contingent on the current offer not being completed.

Funding for the purchase would come from the $15.8 million drain bond that Fayetteville voters approved in 2019.

Council member Teresa Turk said buying the resort should be a priority.

“I really think we should buy this property because it’s been flooded several times,” Turk said.

Turk asked if there were other funding options available, such as flood mitigation grants.

Pugh said the city initially hoped to use federal grant money to help offset the purchase of the complex. The Flood Mitigation Assistance Program, he said, provides $75 to $25 matching funds for projects that reduce or eliminate the risk of repeated flood damage. Funds for this program, however, won’t be decided for at least a year and likely won’t be distributed until late 2023.

Waiting until the end of next year could jeopardize the proposal, Pugh said. As well as not knowing if the property would still be for sale, the current or new owner of the complex would likely need to rent out the apartments to generate income before the end of next year. And even if the city was able to negotiate a purchase in 2023, Pugh said the total cost could increase if new residents had to be relocated.

(Todd Gill/Fayetteville Flyer)

“It could always happen that we spend less money, but the relocation costs could add up quite significantly if we move potentially 50 families to other parts of town,” Pugh said.

Turk asked if the city could buy the complex now and be reimbursed by a federal grant once the money becomes available next year.

“I can find out, but it’s my understanding that — like with other programs — we wouldn’t be able to reimburse ourselves for something we had already done,” Pugh said.

Council member Sloan Scroggin said he had spoken with neighbors in the area about the need to demolish the complex, and although the flats provide affordable housing, it is not a safe place to live.

“While I’m glad there’s a cheap place for people to be, people moving to a cheap place don’t need to be in a place that floods very regularly,” Scroggin said. “These (apartments) are barely habitable.”

Mayor Lioneld Jordan agreed.

“We’re not moving anywhere right now,” Jordan said. “Every time a heavy rain comes, this place gets flooded and we have to evacuate these people, so we’re going to have to take action.”

The board will consider a resolution on the subject at its next regular meeting on Tuesday, August 16.

» Read the resolution and supporting documents


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