Construction firm’s post about demolishing ‘entire neighborhood off the map’ draws ire; UAMS clearing 28 houses

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An Arkansas construction company’s social media post about demolishing “an entire neighborhood off the map of Little Rock” drew criticism this week from some who said the remark was insensitive.

Greg Covey Construction LLC posted a photo of demolition vehicles tearing down houses in Little Rock’s Stifft Station neighborhood, saying that crews were “fixing to demo [an] entire neighborhood off the map of Little Rock

Demolition of 28 homes east of the medical center in that area clears the way for the energy project, though the full work is still pending approval from the UA Board of Trustees. The full project is expected to cost more than $150 million.

UAMS spokeswoman Leslie Taylor said the hospital has owned the houses for the past decade. But a few months ago, the hospital discovered lead paint and asbestos in the homes. She said the demolition has been in the works for awhile.

“No one had been living there for several months,” Taylor said, adding that it would be expensive to keep them standing ahead of the board approving the project.

The construction company’s post, which was later deleted, drew strong reactions online. Some commenters on Facebook said it stirred painful memories of past construction and road projects cleaving through working-class and black neighborhoods.

“Talking about wiping something off a map is insensitive,” said Capitol View Stifft Station Neighborhood Association President Hunter Windle.

He added that he’s unsure if the construction firm’s comments were “coming from a bad place” or whether it was a flippant remark about a large project they had.

Greg Covey Construction’s owner declined to comment about the post Thursday morning.

Windle said the neighborhood association plans to continue working with the hospital as the project continues. He said none of the houses that are being torn down are listed as historic.

He said the association has remained in contact with the hospital over the project, and he sees some of the proposed improvements helping road visibility and safety.

Taylor said UAMS reached out to the construction company after seeing the post.

She said the hospital also plans to attend an upcoming neighborhood meeting to discuss its project.

The Board of Trustees earlier this year set aside the proposal without approving it but will likely consider it later this year, Taylor said.

Arkansas Daily Gazette

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