Ground broken for affordable, sustainable neighborhood
FAYETTEVILLE — Mary Roper said she wants to downsize since retiring from working for various nonprofit groups in the state. The Homes at Willow Bend might suit her just fine.
Willow Bend will feature 77 homes on about 9 acres a few blocks from Walker Park in south Fayetteville. Primary developer Partners for Better Housing, a private nonprofit organization, wants to create a neighborhood of mixed-income residents, sustainable site design and walkability to nearby jobs and amenities.
Planning started in 2009 with the land purchase shortly after with a Home Depot Foundation Grant. The City Council in October approved a $ 1 million cost- share agreement to
build the neighborhood.
The project broke ground Tuesday.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan said the new neighborhood demonstrates a commitment to the city’s 2030 plan, namely infill development, walkability, connections to green networks and low-impact site design.
“Willow Bend will be an example of how to successfully build sustainable and attainable housing using a model that can be duplicated elsewhere in Fayetteville and through all of Northwest Arkansas,” he said.
Alderwoman Adella Gray of Ward 1, which includes south Fayetteville, said the development marks a turning point in bringing affordable housing to the area.
“It is just something that is so greatly needed in our city but also in lots of other cities,” she said. “I’m excited for it to be kind of a showcase for cities where we need some low-income housing.”
A third of the homes will be sold at market rate. Another third of buyers making 81 to 100 percent of area median income and the remaining third who make 50 to 80 percent of area median income will be eligible for subsidized housing through the nonprofit group.
Northwest Arkansas has a median income of $58,700. Michael Ward, executive director of Partners for Better Housing, estimated
home prices at $130,000 to $270,000 but said the actual sale price will be lower for some residents.
Philanthropist Denise Garner contributed to the project and said she and her husband wanted to pay forward the help they had received from others during their younger years.
“We want everyone to have access to the benefits that we’ve received,” she said. “We’re so lucky to be in this community. We do think it takes a village.”
For Roper, Willow Bend represents the possibility of moving into a home in which she can stay for the
rest of her life. She’d love to live in the Historic District, but like many people, can’t afford it.
“I’m just looking at all my options,” Roper said. “I’m methodically cleaning out my house, packing stuff up and getting rid of things so in the next two or three years, maybe more, I’d like to move to someplace like this.”
Keaton Smith (left), board chairman of Partners for Better Housing, speaks Friday with philanthropist Denise Garner during a groundbreaking for the Willow Bend project on South Washington Avenue in Fayetteville. Nonprofit Partners for Better Housing started planning the Homes at Willow Bend in 2009. The City Council in October approved a $1 million cost-share agreement to bring 77 affordable homes to 9 acres east of the park between Washington and Wood avenues.