Little Rock has reached an out-of-court settlement with a hair salon owner whose business was forced to close by a $4.2 million city project to widen a section of Kanis Road.
While city officials indicated at a city board agenda meeting Tuesday that they were working toward an agreement to avoid a trial that was set for next month before Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox, the lead attorney for the salon owner confirmed a settlement had been reached.
"It's a firm settlement," said Judson Kidd, who represents Michael Hendrixson, the owner of Angles Salon. "There's been email confirmation between me and the city attorney's office."
Hendrixson said in an interview that the agreement was reached at 3:30 p.m., about 30 minutes before the agenda meeting started.
The city had offered about $69,000, a price it said was fair for a portion of Hendrixson's property at 11324 Kanis Road. But the property the city took to build a large retaining wall included parking and access for people with disabilities, and eliminated access to the business from Kanis.
The project is widening Kanis to five lanes from two on a 3,500-foot section from South Shackleford Road to Embassy Suites Drive.
The work includes storm drains, curbs, gutters and sidewalks on both sides. A traffic signal will be added at Kanis and Embassy Suites Drive.
The work is part of a larger project to widen Kanis west from Shackleford to Gamble Road, a busy section that has been unimproved except for required improvements as part of private development along the corridor.
Even before the work began, it disrupted utility service to Hendrixson's property because the utility lines, including water, had to be moved to make way for the project. The lack of water effectively coupled with the project itself has left the salon closed for more than two years even as he continued to pay the mortgage on the property, according to Hendrixson.
The city sued Hendrixson in March under eminent domain after Hendrixson declined the city's offer.
As part of the agreement, Hendrixson said he couldn't discuss the size of the settlement, but he indicated it was enough to avoid the risk of going to trial.
"I could have gone to court and lost everything," he said. "There was no guarantee. I felt pretty good about my chances, but I really didn't want to take that chance if we could get in the ballpark of something that was fair."
The Pulaski County assessor's office values the property at $533,200 and estimates its taxes at $7,464.80 annually, according to the office's online data.
"I would just describe it as a fair settlement for both sides," Kidd said. "We're glad to get it resolved."
Hendrixson said his case was boosted by a social media and email campaign cobbled together by friends and from among the 300 clients at Angles Salon after Hendrixson reached out to Mayor Frank Scott Jr. on social media earlier month.
"FYI, as of 3 pm today, the city settled with Michael !!!," one Hendrixson friend, John Riddle, said Tuesday afternoon in an email message that included city board members "I hear the outpouring on social media overwhelmed them. Good to know for the future."
In a Facebook post, Scott praised the progress of the project, the biggest the city has undertaken using its own money, and illustrated it with several photographs. But most of the comments were critical of the way the city has treated the longtime small-business owner, especially after Hendrixson commented, asking for the mayor's assistance.
Scott indicated in an interview last week that city officials were "in discussion on how to proceed."
Word of the settlement had not reached city officials at the agenda meeting Tuesday afternoon.
But Ward 6 City Director Doris Wright said she had received numerous emails from constituents about the salon.
"We are in the process of using eminent domain to acquire the property but we are still negotiating with the property owner as far as acquiring the property but that's what you've been getting emails about, so that's been, multiple appraisals have been done and there's been a lot of conversation back and forth between the city and that property owner," Jon Honeywell, the city's public works director, said. "Sometimes the negotiation for the property takes a while."
Scott said Honeywell couldn't discuss the matter further, citing the negotiations but added that a conclusion could be forthcoming.
"Mr. Honeywell and his team have been dealing with this particular issue for the past few years," he said. "There's some things that's going on right now that may come to a resolution soon. May."
Meanwhile, Hendrixson said it was too soon to say whether he would reopen his salon at another location, saying the case had consumed his life for more than two years, as well as a lot of money over and above whatever he will see from the city.
"I won't get that back," he said. "I'm just glad I have my life back."
Metro on 07/31/2019
Print Headline: Owner, city reach deal on property after road widening forced west Little Rock beauty shop to close