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Company buys Bentonville City Hall building for $3.75M

December 19, 2018

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (AP) — A company associated with the Walton family bought the Bentonville City Hall building on West Central Avenue for $3.75 million.

The City Council unanimously approved accepting the bid from Recasting LLC at a recent meeting.

The company is registered in Delaware, according to records on the Delaware Secretary of State’s website.

Recasting shares an agent with Ropeswing Hospitality Group and Springdale Downtown, both of which are backed by the Walton family.

The company will lease the building back to the city at no cost for up to three years while the city builds another space, according to city officials.

“We believe that’s a very fair offer. The understated part of this is the no-cost lease,” Jake Harper, director of finance and administration, told the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette .

The cost to lease the space would value around $585,000, he added.

Harper presented the council with plans on what could happen with the city departments in the building less than a block west of the downtown square.

Those departments include the Mayor’s Office, Legal Department, Utility Billing, Accounting and Purchasing Department, Human Resources and Information Technology.

The city owns the empty lot between the Downtown Activities Center and Community Development Building. The city’s intent was to eventually move City Hall there when it bought the property in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Harper said.

The Bentonville Community Plan identifies the location as a municipal center.

However, there would only be space for 49 parking spaces if the building constructed there accommodated everything in City Hall. The space would be full the moment it was built, Harper said.

A scaled-down City Hall building, with less offices and larger council chambers, could go there with 82 parking spaces, he said.

There’s also the potential for a public-private partnership to develop the lot to provide more downtown parking, in which case, the scaled-down City Hall building would then be constructed at a different location downtown, Harper said.

In either case, a City Administrative Building would be built outside of downtown, he said. A likely location would be on two of 12 the acres the city owns near the Community Center.

The cost for a new building or buildings is estimated to be between $8.7 million to $9.8 million, according to Harper. The sale of the space on West Central Avenue would go toward the project. The remaining cost — $5 million to $6.2 million — would be paid for with reserve.

Councilman Bill Burckart said he didn’t like the idea of entering into a real estate contract without having more information about the plan to move forward. He asked for more time to consider the offer and develop a “better road map.”

“This is the first time I’ve heard of the actual plans,” he said. “I agree with the concept and what we might do.”

Councilman Jon Terlouw also commented the council only recently saw the plans.

“Once we pull the trigger, we have no choice but to move forward,” he said.

Councilman Chris Sooter said he believed the offer to be a fair one, especially with three years with no cost to lease.

“Since I’ve joined the council — for the last 16 years — we’ve been talking about selling City Hall,” he said.

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Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com

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