West Memphis breaks ground for first housing development in 40 years

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 5:13 PM CDT
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WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (WMC) - It’s been 40 years, according to leaders in West Memphis, since a housing development has moved dirt in the city limits.

That changed Thursday morning, ceremonially speaking.

Outside a partially completed home off Tyler Avenue, West Memphis Mayor Marco McClendon and City Council members dug their groundbreaking shovels into the dirt to announce the development of Big River Landing West.

“A lot of people lost hope in this area, but now they’ve got hope back because we’re not just talking. We’re showing action,” McClendon said.

The groundbreaking took place in an area that, according to developers, was once a total of 120 trailers, condemned homes, and dilapidated businesses.

They’ve all been torn down, and the land —part of it already purchased and owned by the development company Durbin Construction Co. and the other part donated to the city—will soon be 60 residential homes, as well as retail and economic development space and a new park.

The city took on the cost of building out and adding to the infrastructure, and Durbin Construction is taking on the cost(s) of the project.

When asked if there are more plans to build on the momentum of Big River Landing West, McClendon said the city has already donated an additional 25 plots of land in several parts of the city, getting ready for more developers to come in and build more homes and businesses.

“We are looking at working with these landowners, as well as the absentee owners,” McClendon said. “Give us the land, let us take care of it. you’ve got people that are buying homes in this area, but next door are empty lots where the grass is growing up. We can get those lots, keep them cut, get developers to continue to come in and build these affordable houses for individuals here.”

“We needed this so bad in this area,” said City Councilman Willis Mondy, who represents Ward 5 where the development is being built. “Mayor McClendon talked to me about it. We talked about it, and he got it done.”

Big River Landing West has been a project in the making for the last three years and was partially put on hold due to COVID-19, McClendon said.

The ceremonial groundbreaking attracted some curious West Memphis residents and business owners, looking to see what’s going to be built up in their part of the city.

“I walked home from school in this area every day,” Marshia Murry said. “I never saw anything like this. This is exciting for me.”

“This gives me the opportunity to see the area being revitalized and hear what future plans are,” said business owner Victoria Savage. “As a business owner here, it’s an opportunity for future retail spots, giving me the opportunity to think about if this is possibly a place where I can come in and create a storefront.”

With how red-hot the Mid-South housing market has been, McClendon and developers are excited to see how quickly these homes find new owners and West Memphis acquires new citizens.

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