The buyers of the old YMCA building downtown have stepped forward. Shellie Barnett, president of Jonesboro-based Deseo, LLC, said the company plans to restore the building and turn it into office space, including an insurance agency and a financial planning office on the first floor. Barnett said the restoration would cost over $1 million and could take years, but declined to say how much Deseo paid for the building. A deed has yet to be filed with the Pulaski County clerk's office. In addition to creating office space, plans eventually call for restoring the building's pool and steam room, which will then be available for use by building tenants.
Barnett said downtown Jonesboro has "blossomed" in recent years, and she wants to be part of a similar revival in downtown Little Rock. "My motto is be the change you want to see in the world," she says. "That's what I want to do with the Y."
Barnett said the building - which her company has been trying to make a deal on through Danny Holt at Crye-Leike Realtors since January - almost got away when Tower Investments said they had received a better offer after Deseo's contract had expired. "The person that was looking at it was looking to tear it down and build another parking lot," Barnett said. "I can't even imagine letting that happen."
Restoration efforts will begin in the next few months, Barnett says, utilizing local contractors.