Thursday, June 10, 2010
to close on bank purchase
By Michael V. Hannigan
Monitor Staff Writer
ATHENS Henderson County commissioners finalized the purchase of the Prosperity Bank Building this week.
The building, located across the street from the historic County Courthouse, will add 33,000 square feet of office space, 160 parking spaces and the nearby bank drive-thru to county government.
This is a big step in the history of Henderson County, County Judge David Holstein said Tuesday morning as commissioners began a series of actions necessary to close on the property.
Closing at the title company was to be held Wednesday.
Tuesday, commissioners approved a resolution approving the sale and giving Holstein authority to sign the closing documents. The court also approved a series of financial moves to free up approximately $2.7 million needed at closing. The total cost for the building is approximately $2.796 million. (See related story, page 4A.)
In the deal, Prosperity Bank also receives property previously owned by the Ginger Murchison Foundation at the south end of the block where the bank plans an 8,000 square-foot building.
Both land transactions were scheduled to take place at the same time Wednesday, according to Holstein.
The timing of the closings was linked to the Murchison Foundation clearing the land at the corner of Palestine and Corsicana streets, which was finished last month.
Purchase of the building can be traced back to September, 2007, when commissioners considered buying 44 acres on Loop 7 for expansion. The idea brought instant protest from Athens residents, including from the owners of businesses around the square.
Commissioners Court dropped that plan in February 2008, accepting an offer from the Ginger Murchison Foundation to provide $100,000 for a facilities study instead. The foundation also offered the buildings on the Southwest corner to the county.
In July, 2008, the county hired Brinkley Sargent to conduct the study. The study results concluded that the county had 84,000 square feet but needed 148,000 square feet.
By November, 2008, the county began talking with Prosperity Bank about possibly buying the building. Those talks heated up late last year and concluded this February with the decision to buy.
The move to buy the building met with widespread approval, but that approval wasnt universal. Former state representative and Athens resident Fred Head criticized the county at two separate meetings for paying more than the value assessed by the county appraisal district for the property.
County officials admit the purchase price is about $1 million more than the appraised value, but said the county received a good deal all the same.
At a meeting in April, commissioners Joe Hall and Wade McKinney both said it would be impossible for the county to build a facility for the purchase price of the bank building.
McKinney said the bank building would cost the county about $59 per square foot, with an added $11 per square foot of parking.
For comparison purposes, RSMean, a company which estimates construction costs, said that a two- to four-story office building in the Dallas area in 2009 cost about $150 per square-foot to build.
Hall said the bank building was the best option for the county.
When we looked at other options, well there were no other options, he said. When the wheels started turning, it showed there was a way to solve all problems (the bank building).
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