Who is Melanie Steele... And Why Is She Buying All This Stuff?

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Mar. 31, 2014 12:00 am  

What is known is that she moved into a modest brick house at 6500 Osage Drive in the Indian Hills section of North Little Rock sometime last year. She lived there with her young daughter for about six months before moving out earlier this year, according to her former next-door neighbor, Richard Scroggin.

Scroggin described Steele as an attractive divorcee in her late 30s who washed her own car and was friendly and well-liked in the neighborhood.

She — or, more precisely, the Melanie Steele Living Trust, with Bank of the Ozarks as trustee — purchased the Osage property for $80,000 in February. Scroggin said she told him she was planning to build a new house on the lot for an employee.

T.H. Epperson & Son House Moving took the existing house off the lot on March 31, and all that remained on the lot last week was a load of new bricks and the driveway. Epperson said he was hired by Mike Hill of MDH Builders of Little Rock, the contractor hired to build a new house on the lot.

Coincidentally — or not — Steele’s trust paid $1 million in February for Hill’s personal home at 28 Bretagne Court. And Hill confirmed that he is working with Steele on her plans to renovate the Continental Building. He referred all other questions to Stebbins.

The price Steele paid for Hill’s Chenal Valley house appears to be top-dollar but not out of line with the prices on other houses in the neighborhood, according to information provided by a real estate agent. The two-year-old house — which has six bedrooms and five full and two half bathrooms — is just under 7,000 SF, and Steele paid approximately $144 per SF. A 5,400-SF house on Bretagne sold for $124 per SF in October, and a 5,500-SF house on nearby LeCelle sold for $162 per SF last month.

Stebbins said Steele plans to live in the house on Bretagne but had not yet moved in as of last week. Residents in the gated Canal Pointe subdivision confirm that she lived in the house she bought at 1820 Canal Pointe for a matter of days in March. She apparently didn’t get along with the neighbors there as well as she did on Osage.

“Let’s say she thinks she can have her way,” said Marion Burton, a commissioner of the Riverdale Harbor Improvement District that includes Canal Pointe.

Burton said he never met Steele in person but had a heated telephone conversation with her after she insisted on installing an air-conditioning unit that included an outdoor compressor unit.

Exterior fan compressors are prohibited in the bill of assurance governing the Canal Pointe subdivision, Burton said, and neighbors asked him to intervene when Steele had one installed to replace or supplement the house’s existing geothermal system.

Burton said Steele told him she owned property all over the world and could do as she pleased with the house on Canal Pointe. Within days, Steele had moved out, leaving the offending compressor in place.

The $385,000 house is now occupied by Holly Vines, who confirmed that Steele is selling her the house for $1.



Please read our comments policy before commenting.