Hiccup in Harrison city plan to purchase Durand Center

Published: Jun. 17, 2019 at 9:26 PM CDT
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The Harrison mayor said city hall is long overdue for a new building.

"Bolts that actually go through the building with plates on both ends that are actually holding the building together. Once the phone company had the explosion back in 1980, it rocked this building. It was only 20 feet away that explosion," said Mayor Jerry Jackson about the current city hall.

Just a couple blocks away downtown, North Arkansas College has been trying to figure out what to do with its buildings on center campus after mold was discovered in the tower side.

The tower is connected to the Durand Center, which doesn't have mold, and the city is interested in making that their new city hall.

"We don't want to lose the convention center, the Durand Center. It's been so important to us here in Harrison," Jackson said.

The college was planning to sell the Durand Center and demolish the tower after not receiving any bids for it.

But last week the college sent out a notice saying both the Durand Center and tower could now be sold together to anyone interested.

The mayor said the city can't take on the liability of the tower.

"Obviously I'm disappointed," Jackson said. "We had the hopes for that. We still have hopes. But our hopes were extremely high. They were probably at 100 percent up until just recently when they notified us they have to put it out for bid."

Now it's up in the air whether or not the city will get to call the Durand Center the new city hall.

"I don't think it has fallen apart by any means," Jackson said. "I think it's still a great option. I have hopes that we're still going to be there."

Offers for the Durand Center and tower together can be submitted up until June 25.

This is the college's explanation as to why they put both up for bid:

The College began the process with the understanding that the Durand Center could be owned only by a government entity prompting Northark to offer the tower side for sale last spring. No offers were received. The college has since discovered that the entire property could be sold to either government or non-government entities. This includes the tower, the Durand Center, the connecting atrium, and the immediate parking located on a 2.6 acre site.

Dr. Randy Esters Northark’s president has been managing the situation. “This has not been a fun or an easy process,” he said. “I am hopeful we are near a resolution that will benefit the College and the community as a whole.”

The Request for Proposals advertised on Northark’s website under Vendor Information includes Special Terms and Conditions:

1. North Arkansas College reserves the right to waive any formalities or to reject any or all proposals when it is deemed to be in the best interest of the College.

2. The College reserves the right to not make any sales award.

3. The final sales award, if any, will not be based solely on the highest purchase price offer. Consideration will also be given to:

a. The intended use of the property;

b. The resources on-hand or available to the potential purchaser to accomplish the above intended use of the property;

c. The past experience of the potential purchaser with similar facilities or projects; and.

d. The overall benefit to North Arkansas College and to the Harrison community, as perceived solely by the College’s administration and the North Arkansas College Board of Trustees.

4. When an Intent to Award is issued to the apparent successful Proposing Party, the selected Proposing Party will have three (3) complete business days to submit a check in the amount of $20,000.00 payable to North Arkansas College as Earnest Money for the property purchase commitment.

If no acceptable offers are received for the entire parcel, plans to demolish the Tower will move forward and the Durand Center will be considered separately.

Esters told the Board of Trustees at the June meeting. “Northark currently spends around $300K per year on Durand Center operations. When the convention and meeting spaces were part of a larger, Center Campus operation, it served as a community enrichment function for the College. As a stand–alone convention space however, it does not fit our Mission as a college.”

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