NEW NEIGHBORS, NEW HOUSES, NEW RESTORATION: Alexandra Marshall and Mike Orndorff (from left), Denise and Cecil Ennett (middle) and Jessica and Clayton Keith all live within a few doors of each other. Orndorff built both his home and the Keiths'; the Ennetts renovated their historic home.
“We loved the Hillcrest area,” Orndoff, 36, said, but “our budget was $170,000 and the cheapest lot we could find was $170,000.” Their lot in Pettaway, like many lots then on the market in Pettaway, was vacant. It cost $15,000. They bought it after meeting downtown residents at a Quapaw Quarter Garden Club fiesta. That the house next door, at 613 E. 16 St. — the home of Kwadjo Boaitey and Karama Neal, a market-rate rehab by the downtown CDC — had been redone and the Ennetts were beginning their renovations of their home at 621 E. 16th “gave us some confidence,” Orndorff said. Orndorff, who’d built homes in Saline County, began to tackle properties downtown. He built one at the southeast corner of East 16th Street and Park Lane, and sold it through Facebook. Then he built three more, includ-
ing two in the 1900 block of Scott Street. But the Capital Zoning District Commission shut down the Scott Street projects — the street falls in the Governor’s Mansion District and required CZDC permits. “I was a little naive as to what I was getting into,” Orndorff said. Then, once he completed the houses, he couldn’t sell them. His $60,000 trackhoe was stolen from the building site on Scott Street. It was traumatic, and Orndorff and Marshall said they had to “re-evaluate.” “But we were determined. It was just headwinds,” Orndorff said. The wind has since started blowing the builder’s way. Three houses he built on Cumberland Street in 2018 — including one he built for the downtown CDC — sold before they were completed. “It was almost like a tipping point,” Alexandra Marshall said. “The
dominoes started to fall.” Orndorff has now built 16 houses and is building four more in the Pettaway area, ranging in price from $99,000 to $285,000. The smallest is “The Tiny Home” Airbnb the Orndorff-Marshall family owns at 1615 Park Lane; the largest are two-story traditional homes going up catercornered from his own on East 16th. He will vary from the traditional design he calls “Hillcrest style” for a house he’s building at the northwest corner of East 17th Street and Bragg streets. It will be a modern house with a steeply sloping roof fitted with solar panels. “It’s going to have a ‘she shed,’ too,” he said during a tour of the neighborhood he gave to a reporter. A new brick wall at the corner of 17th and Bragg is inset — as are all Orndorff constructions — with engraved concrete signs. A sign ARKANSASTIMES.COM
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New Look for Pettaway KOKY KEEPS SPEAKING | DRIVING THE TALIMENA BYWAY | BIG IDEAS 2019