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TEXARKANA -- The city plans to buy a structure next to the collapsing former Regency House building downtown and demolish both at once.

The narrow building at 108 E. Broad St., between the Regency House building at 110 E. Broad and a city park known as Pocket Park, would be too expensive to preserve as the Regency House is torn down, Public Works Director Tyler Richards said in an email.

The city has reached an agreement to buy the property, and the sale will come before the Board of Directors for approval during its regular meeting Monday.

"The purchase of this property will also give the city many more options as to what we can do with the property at a later date. We would be extremely limited if there was a property separating the Regency House and Pocket Park," Richards said.

The building forms one wall of the park and features a mural depicting Texarkana architectural landmarks.

According to Miller County property records, Vessel Church Inc. owns the building, its last appraised value was $540, and its estimated market value is $2,700.

Once the purchase is made, the next step will be a series of environmental inspections ahead of demolition.

"Upon completion of the inspections I expect things to move very quickly," Richards said.

The demolition is expected to cost about $500,000, Richards said.

On Aug. 14, the Regency House's extensively damaged roof collapsed through the remains of the floor beneath, destabilizing the structure and creating the possibility of falling debris. The city immediately blocked access to the street and sidewalk in front of the building and closed the park next door.

The city will place a lien on the property for the cost of the demolition to try to recoup its expenses, the only option available to hold property owners responsible for structures abandoned to become unsafe. The cost of demolition is so high that it is unlikely anyone will ever purchase the property and pay the city's lien, Richards has said.

The building was condemned in 2011, and it has been forfeited to the state because of more than $740 in unpaid taxes.

The property's history dates to 1878, when it was first deeded to a Masonic lodge.

A general store operated on the site until the building burned down in 1885. Operators of a dry-goods store, Texarkana National Bank and again the Freemasons in turn owned a new brick building at the address.

From 1945 to 1978, a department store started by William Dillard, later founder of the Dillard's chain, operated in the building. The building was vacant from 1979 to 1988, when it became home to Regency House, a retailer of china, crockery and glassware. It has been vacant since 2002.

Metro on 10/05/2019

Print Headline: 2 southwest Arkansas buildings in demolition plan

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