Tech Park Offers $845,000 for Mays Building

Tech Park Offers $845,000 for Mays Building
Richard Mays

Editor's Note: A correction has been made to this article. See note at the end of this story for details.

The Little Rock Tech Park Authority Board voted Monday to make an $845,000 offer on Richard Mays’ property at 415 Main St., the final piece needed for the first phase of the technology park.

The offer matches Mays' recent appraisal of the property, which was $175,000 more than the tech park’s latest appraisal.

Mays has until Nov. 16 to accept the offer. If he doesn't, the board plans to sue under eminent domain. That filing would happen on Nov. 18.

"I'm hoping we can get a negotiated settlement," Mary Good, the authority board's chairman, said during the meeting. "We do not wish to have a lawsuit, but this little piece is right in the middle of what we need."

Good said Mays' three-story, 10,000-SF building is central to the structure of the planned park development, providing "key connectivity" to other parts of the property.

The property, which houses Mays' law practice, is the final piece of the park's Phase 1, which sits in the 400 block of Main Street. The board voted to pay Little Rock financier Warren Stephens $11.6 million for 417 and 421 Main St., 114 E. Capitol Ave., and three nearby parking lots, all of which would make up the bulk of the project's 3.25-acre and 39,000-SF first phase.

Last month, the board voted unanimously to draft a condemnation lawsuit claiming eminent domain on the Mays property. The board had been engaged in what it called amicable negotiations with Mays, but Mays said he wanted an offer on the property more in line with what the park was paying Stephens. He had also suggested leasing the property to the board, for 99 years if necessary, at a low price.

Mays told Arkansas Business after last month's board meeting that he didn't think the park qualified as a "public purpose," a status that would allow the board to use eminent domain. But the board and its attorney, Scott Schallhorn of Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodward of Little Rock, said it does. The statute that created the Tech Park Authority Board establishes it as a quasi-public entity, similar to an improvement district, Schallhorn said.

Mays did not immediately return calls for comment. He told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette late Monday that he would consider the board's new offer and try to deliver a response by Nov. 16.

Mays bought the property in 1984 for $100,000, investing an additional $400,000 to renovate it. In the summer of 2014, an appraisal by the tech park valued the property at between $470,000 to $530,000. The latest appraisals by Mays and the tech park were conducted in October.

Mitchell Williams lawyer John Baker told the board that the condemnation lawsuit could cost up to $105,000 if it went to Arkansas Supreme Court. Baker said the lawsuit could take up to three years, but the time frame would not affect the cost.

Correction: The original version of this story said Mays paid $500,000 for his office in 1984. That is incorrect. He paid $100,000 for the property and invested $400,000 to renovate it.

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