Board Votes To Sell Ar­vest Build­ing

Washington County Enterprise-Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By Lynn Kut­ter

PRAIRIE GROVE — In April 2017, Prairie Grove School Board voted to pur­chase the Ar­vest Bank build­ing in down­town Prairie Grove for $600,000 to use as a new ad­min­is­tra­tion build­ing. Last week, the Board changed its mind and voted to try to sell the build­ing.

Board mem­bers briefly dis­cussed whether they wanted to keep the build­ing at the end of their July meet­ing, ac­cord­ing to Reba Holmes, in­terim su­per­in­ten­dent. Holmes placed the Ar­vest Bank fa­cil­ity as an item for dis­cus­sion on the board’s Aug. 20 meet­ing agenda.

Af­ter the meet­ing, J.C. Dobbs, board vice pres­i­dent, said feed­back from the com­mu­nity was that some peo­ple did not like the idea of ad­min­is­tra­tion mov­ing off-cam­pus.

“I wouldn’t say we made a mis­take but some­times you think about things again,” Dobbs said. “I think it’s prob­a­bly best to keep ad­min­is­tra­tion on cam­pus.”

Prairie Grove School District bought the Ar­vest build­ing us­ing a “Bargain Sale Real Es­tate Con­tract.” At the time, for­mer Su­per­in­ten­dent Allen Williams ex­plained a con­tract is con­sid­ered a bargain sale if the pur­chase price is be­low the ap­praised value. The Ar­vest prop­erty ap­praised for $920,000. The dif­fer­ence in the pur­chase price and the ap­praisal was to be con­sid­ered a char­i­ta­ble do­na­tion from Ar­vest to the school district.

The $600,000 pur­chase price in­cluded slightly more than half an acre of land, the build­ing, fur­nish­ings in­side the bank, a park­ing lot and unim­proved prop­erty north of the park­ing lot.

As part of the pur­chase, Ar­vest agreed to pay $6,000 per month to lease the build­ing un­til it moved into its new fa­cil­ity on Her­itage Park­way. So far, the school has re­ceived $70,000 in lease pay­ments.

The con­tract has a deed re­stric­tion that pro­hibits the use of the prop­erty as a bank or re­lated busi­ness for 35 years from the pur­chase date.

When the pur­chase was agreed upon last year, Mike Wil­lard, who at the time was pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Ar­vest Bank for this re­gion, said the de­ci­sion was a “win” for the bank’s cus­tomers and the com­mu­nity. Ar­vest would move into a more vis­i­ble, ac­ces­si­ble new build­ing and its space down­town would not be left empty.

Wil­lard said Ar­vest be­lieved it was im­por­tant not to have an empty build­ing down­town.

Prairie Grove School District was the only or­ga­ni­za­tion to sub­mit a writ­ten of­fer for the bank prop­erty, but the city of Prairie Grove also had ex­pressed in­ter­est in buy­ing the Ar­vest build­ing for a new pub­lic li­brary.

Last year, Mayor Sonny Hud­son said the city had made a ver­bal of­fer of $500,000 but when he heard the school district also was in­ter­ested in the prop­erty, he knew the city could not be able to com­pete with the school.

Board mem­ber Jerry Coyle last week said the board saw pur­chas­ing the build­ing as a good idea and “jumped on it.” How­ever, af­ter leas­ing the build­ing to Ar­vest for the past year, he said board mem­bers be­gan to re­al­ize it “may not be the best idea in the world” to move the ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fices away from the main cam­pus.

“I think the best idea is to have ad­min­is­tra­tion on cam­pus,” Coyle said.

Coyle said he per­son­ally asked Holmes what she thought about mov­ing of­fices and Holmes in­di­cated she pre­ferred to stay on cam­pus where she wouldn’t have to be trav­el­ing back and forth from the ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fice to other school build­ings.

Holmes said from a se­cu­rity stand­point, she thinks the ad­min­is­tra­tion should stay on cam­pus.

“As of right now, we are com­fort­able where we are,” Holmes said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fice is now lo­cated in what was the sec­ond grade wing of the old Pri­mary School. Holmes’ of­fice is in one class­room. An­other class­room is used for district ad­min­is­tra­tive staff. Williams as as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent of fi­nance is in an­other class­room in the build­ing

As­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dents David Kel­logg and Pete Joenks are lo­cated in the pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment area at the mid­dle school build­ing.

Holmes said she be­lieves it makes sense to keep ev­ery­thing as it is since she is serv­ing in an in­terim ca­pac­ity.

The school district used money from its build­ing fund to pay for the fa­cil­ity.

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