LITTLE ROCK A judge has ordered an apartment complex in Little Rock closed because it is a "threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community."
In an order issued Wednesday, Little Rock Environmental Court Judge Mark Leverett said Stonecrest Apartments, 9700 Base Line Road, should be immediately evacuated of tenants and boarded at least until it is brought into compliance with fire, maintenance, building, electrical, mechanical and plumbing codes.
Leverett wrote in his order that "the only way to eliminate the aforementioned threat to the health, safety and welfare of the tenants and the community is to order that the property be closed, vacated, boarded and secured."
If improvements are made, the complex could reopen, but only after clearing a city inspection and getting a new court order.
City manager Bruce Moore said the effort is part of an "ongoing process to hold rental property owners accountable."
“This apartment complex has multiple code violations and is in deplorable shape," Moore said in a statement. "We will continue to bring these kinds of cases to court in order to mandate the upkeep of property in the City.”
A man who answered the phone at Stonecrest Apartments said the owner would not be in until noon. The man said the owner decided on his own to shut the complex down and not because of the court order.
Stonecrest is owned by G&K Solutions. A number listed for that business appeared to be out of service Thursday morning.
City crews will board the complex, officials said, noting a progress report will be made to Leverett next week. A city spokesman said officials will work to help residents find places to go.
Some of the apartments in the 61-unit complex had already been boarded up Thursday morning and supplies were set outside others, though no work was occurring about 9:30 a.m.
One resident, who spoke on condition of his name not being used, said tenants received a letter Monday from the owner telling them the complex would be closing. The man said he's lived there about three years and did see some problems, including an increase in crime in the area, tenants who refused to pay rent or vacate, and maintenance problems that went unfixed.
He said there has been talk of the property closing for some time.
"This has been in the making for about six months," he said. "We just didn't know the actual date."
A separate complaint in the Stonecrest case was filed by the city in Pulaski County Circuit Court in August.
That suit came as city officials described numerous problems at Stonecrest, including handrails that weren’t anchored to anything and holes in apartment walls.
It marked the second apartment complex the city has moved to shut down in less than a year. The city last year moved to have Valley Heights Apartments on Cantrell Road closed because of numerous problems there.
A city spokesman said she didn't have an update on where that effort stood, but she noted two banks have sued Valley Heights.