October 8, 2003 - Posted at: 5:49 p.m. CDT
NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A Jonesboro developer says it wants to buy the former Baptist Memorial Hospital building in North Little Rock to redevelop for state government offices. Belz-Burrow Development Group is already planning an $80 million shopping center in North Little Rock.
The city owns the building, along with the surrounding 40 acres overlooking the Arkansas River and downtown Little Rock.
The North Little Rock City Council will consider authorizing an agreement to sell the property for $100,000 at its meeting Monday. The low price reflects a contractual obligation for Belz-Burrow Development Group to spend at least $5 million in renovations.
"It sets the system up where the state can buy the property at a future date," Belz-Burrow co-owner Bruce Burrow told K8 news Wednesday afternoon. "We'll get paid back for our renovation and work if they buy it. If they don't buy it, we'll get paid back over a long-term period on the lease-holds. So, that's the business we're in...developing and leasing, and it just seemed to be a natrual fit."
The transaction could take the 41-year-old hospital building off the city's hands. It would also renovate offices the state can't afford to improve, while also returning the building to property tax rolls.