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story.lead_photo.caption The city of North Little Rock plans to buy the site of the Fisher Armory. - Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette / MITCHELL PE MASILUN

North Little Rock is ready to move forward with an agreement to buy the Fisher Armory building from the Arkansas National Guard for $500,000 as part of a property swap also involving the North Little Rock School District, according to a proposal going before the City Council.

The city wants a land exchange in order to relocate its police and courts building onto the armory site at 2600 Poplar St. The city will also take possession of the school district's administration building at 2700 Poplar St.

The City Council is to consider a memorandum of understanding at its meeting today regarding the armory. The council approved a similar agreement in November regarding the school district building.

The school district will get possession of the city's current police and courts building property at 200 W. Pershing Blvd., an adjoining parking lot and the police administration building at 2525 Main St., once all are vacated after the new police and courts building is completed. The North Little Rock School Board signed off on the transactions in April.

All of the properties the school district will acquire are on the same block as North Little Rock High School.

The school district owns the land where the armory is located, though the National Guard owns the building and equipment in it. The National Guard leases the property from the school district.

The agreement for the $500,000 purchase price by the city, as reported in November, will remove the National Guard from its lease with the school district and pay for the armory site. The closing date on the sale is to be Oct. 31 at the earliest, according to the agreement.

"They have indicated to us that they need until the end of October until they can vacate the premises," City Attorney Amy Fields said.

A new police and courts building was the biggest capital expenditure portion included in a 1 percent city sales tax that North Little Rock voters approved in an August special election. The current building is almost 60 years old.

The city hasn't yet hired an architect for the police and courts project, city Chief of Staff Danny Bradley said.

"We are in the process of evaluating architectural proposals," Bradley said. "It's going to take them six months or so to develop plans to start construction."

The capital improvements portion of the new city sales tax is half of the 1 percent total and is to last five years before expiring. The other half of the tax, for general operations, is permanent.

The capital improvements tax is to raise $40 million in its five-year period, according to city projections. Of that, $20 million is to go toward the new police and courts building and police headquarters.

"Everything is moving forward," city Communications Director Nathan Hamilton said. "The design stage is progressing, the property acquisition stage is progressing. It's all working in tandem. It's all moving, just not all as fast as we'd like, and that's typical in every large construction project."

A map showing the North Little Rock property exchange.

Metro on 07/09/2018

Print Headline: NLR takes up piece of plan for land swap

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