Arkansas

The Springdale City Council agreed to pay $530,000 for a former Masonic lodge building.

 

Springdale. The City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to purchase the former Springdale Masonic Lodge building for $530,000.

The agreement will settle a lawsuit in Washington County District Court that the city filed to obtain property at 316 Spring St. through the inevitable domain. According to Ernest Keith, the city’s attorney, the law requires the city to pay market value for real estate.

A 2019 city appraisal valued the building at $360,000, Kate said.

He added that the Freemasons commissioned their own appraisal, which valued the building at $500,000.

The city authorities filed a lawsuit to condemn the Lodge, and in April 2020 went to court and received an order of possession. The law allows the city to take possession of the property even if the lawsuit is not settled, so the project will not stop, Kate explained.

The law also required the city to pay the cost of the building to the court. According to Kate, the $360,000 paid by the city was given to the Lodge in July 2020.

The lawsuit will be settled when the city pays the lodge the full cost of the building on the day the city took over in 2020.

The city’s second estimate set the cost at $500,000. Kate noted that the appraiser initially missed about 1,800 square feet of unfinished basement.

The city and Lodge agreed on $530,000.

“I think that’s fair because they’ve been using the building without rent for three years,” said Geoff Gambill, secretary of the Lodge.

“I just wish this thing wasn’t so dragged out,” he continued. “Why couldn’t we fix this three years ago?”

Kate noted that the trials were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city will demolish the building to make way for greenery and parking as it completes the second phase of the municipal complex. Colby Fulfer, the mayor’s chief of staff, said the city plans to move to new offices this spring.

The former Lodge building currently houses the City’s Public Services and Building Inspection departments.

In 2018, voters approved $40.8 million in bonds to build a municipal complex.

In 2019, the city also bought two houses at 214 and 418 Spring Street, either side of the Lodge building. The homeowners accepted the city’s initial offers of $84,000 for 418 Spring St., Kate said. and $300,000 for 214 Spring St.

Springdale Freemasons are getting used to their new home, a building in an office complex on Plaza Place, members said Tuesday.

They said they miss the place they had on Spring Street. According to Kearney Campbell, Reverend Master of the Lodge, members and their families often dined in the basement dining room, complete with a fully equipped kitchen.

“Now we have a diner that has enough space for a coffee pot and microwave,” he said.

The new lodge building is 4,000 square feet, while the old lodge was 5,000 to 6,000 square feet, said Russell Guyer, a former Master.

The members of the Lodge unanimously declared that they appreciate their new building for its energy efficiency. According to Guyer, the audit showed that they pay about $4,000 a year for utilities.

The former Lodge building was built in 1960 for $40,000. Harvey Jones, founder of Jones Truck Lines, paid for the note, Guyer said.

Campbell noted that Springdale Lodge is celebrating its 150 years of service to Springdale this year. It was founded in October 1873.

Lodge members requested that the cornerstone of the old building be retained, and the city agreed.

The lodge met for two years at the Fayetteville Masonic Lodge building before finding the current building. Members of Springdale Lodge meet every other Thursday and pay $130 for each meeting, Campbell said.

They incurred the cost of storing their ceremonial items while looking for a new building.

Members also had to pay to refurbish their current building to meet their needs. According to Campbell, the members themselves tore down the walls that had previously divided the space into offices.

“Gender was probably our biggest expense,” Gambill said.

A contemporary tile pattern with alternating blue and stone elements fills the floor of the new conference room. In the old hall, he was in a black and white cage.

According to Guyer, this is a Masonic tradition representing the portico of Solomon’s temple.

New Springdale Masonic Lodge #316, located at 1494 Plaza Place, is visible Tuesday. Visit nwaonline.com/photo for today’s photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/JT Wampler)

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