Council approves lease for Old Post Office building patio

The 1,600-square-foot patio behind the Old Post Office building is city-owned property that must be leased to the owner of the building for private use.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

City Council members this week approved a $100 per month lease to Jim Huson for the city-owned patio on the south side of the Old Post Office building.

Huson, who owns Doe’s Eat Place restaurant locations in Fayetteville and Bentonville, is under contract to buy the 102-year-old building from current owner Ron Bumpass. A closing date for the purchase is set for June 15.

The building’s last tenant, Urban Table Bar & Grill, leased the L-shaped, 1,600-square-foot patio from the city for $200 per month.

The discounted lease rate comes with an agreement from Huson to continue allowing the city access to a transmitter mounted on the building which provides free wireless Internet access around the square. Huson has also agreed to leave the speakers on the building that belong to the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission for use during downtown public events.

The patio as seen from the southeast side of the building. The speakers near the roof are owned by the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission.

Todd Gill

It’s unclear what Huson’s plans are for the structure, but it’s unlikely the building will become home to a new Doe’s restaurant.

Fayetteville real estate agent Tim Stein, an executive broker with Bassett Mix & Associates who represents Huson, last month told the Flyer that he may soon be seeking one or more tenants to occupy the property, and that Huson was open to just about anyone interested in renting the available space.

Stein’s comments are in line with a lease revision request from Huson to be able to assign the patio lease to a future tenant.

“I don’t know exactly where we’re going with that piece of property,” Huson told aldermen on Tuesday. “I know of two or three things that we are looking at doing. Either way, it’s a fit for the square and it’s a fit for the patio.”

In theory, the building could hold several businesses. Besides the dining room and attached kitchen on the main floor, the building also includes a small separated space with east side access, a basement accessible from the foyer, and top floor offices accessible from a west side entrance.

Huson also requested that his tenant be allowed to provide amplified live music on the patio from 2-10 p.m. on Razorback home football game days. Arkansas’ 2013 football schedule includes five home dates from late August to early November. Any live music that occurs on those days would be subject to the city’s noise ordinance decibel levels and would require approval from the Fayetteville Planning Commission.

Huson said whether live music would actually be played on the patio would depend on who rents the space. “We’re just trying to cover all our bases on the front end,” he said.

Council members voted 6-2 to approve the lease. Ward 2 Alderman Matthew Petty voted against the resolution because he thought the city should sell the patio to Huson instead of leasing it. Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Marsh voted against the lease, and said she couldn’t support allowing amplified music on the patio. Marsh and Petty also wanted the area to be non-smoking, but their proposed amendment failed.