The board of the Little Rock Technology Park Authority today voted this afternoon to up its offer to lawyer Richard Mays for his Main Street office building to $1.037 million
. Its lawyers will draft the counter offer over the holidays for delivery, probably on Monday, board lawyer Scott Schallhorn said.
It's quite a far cry from the tech park's original appraisal of between $470,000 and $530,000 for the two-story building at 415 Main St. and its original offer of $670,000
. Mays rejected the $670,000 and the board came back with $845,000
at a meeting Nov. 2. Mays countered with $1.2 million.
Yesterday, the Tech Park board filed a complaint of eminent domain
Today, however, board member Dickson Flake
said he had spoken with Mays just an hour before the meeting and wanted to make a motion that the board make the new offer. "I have some confidence" that the Mays family will accept, Flake said.
The board's logic is that is that court costs could push the acquisition amount — should the court rule in the park's favor on the question of eminent domain — to more than the offer it is making now. Mays apparently has the board over a barrel — a barrel that member Kevin Zaffaroni
would have avoided by dropping the offer to buy altogether.
"It seems to me that [the first offer of $670,000] was abundantly fair," Zaffaroni said, adding that while he found nothing unusual about a difference in appraisals, the spread in this case was hard to see. "What is the value of this property? ... Do we even need the property?" he asked. He said he thought the board, which is buying property on either side of 415 Main St. for the tech park, could work around it. "I don't think we need to be chasing this. It's the taxpayers' money." He was the lone vote against the counter offer. Flake and board members Tom Butler, Mary Good, Jay Chesshir, Darrin Williams and C.J. Duvall voted for the motion.
Tom Butler told Zaffaroni he agreed with him up to a point, but that he had looked at the architectural plans and consulted with a friend in Houston who does acquisitions for M.D. Anderson and he'd decided he would support the motion.
Williams said he, too, supported the motion but wondered if the tech park couldn't get a better deal by leasing the space. Flake said that could hurt the property value of the adjacent tech park property.
The counter offer will stipulate that Mays would dismiss his suit against the board, filed last week, challenging the park's ability to exercise eminent domain and the tech park board will dismiss its eminent domain complaint filed yesterday, and that the parties will be responsible for their own legal fees.