Land sale completed for Fayetteville Public Library expansion

The old City Hospital property, located south of the Fayetteville Public Library at Rock Street and School Avenue, is the planned home of a facility expansion that will nearly double the size of the current library.

Staff photo

Washington Regional Medical Center on Wednesday officially transferred ownership of the former City Hospital property to the Fayetteville Public Library, clearing the way for the library’s planned 70,000-square-foot expansion.

The $2 million land sale had been delayed by heirs of the Stone family, who donated the 4-acre property to the city in 1909 with the stipulation that it be used by a hospital. After the City Hospital closed, Washington Regional acquired the property in exchange for land the city needed to construct a roundabout near Millsap Road. Washington Regional eventually closed the nursing home it operated inside the building and announced the sale of the land to the library. The family intervened and fought the sale, but the Arkansas Supreme Court eventually ruled that Washington Regional was the property’s lawful and sole owner.

“We are very excited to finalize this transaction and to begin library expansion,” said David Johnson, the library’s executive director. “We look forward to working with the citizens of Fayetteville and with our building partners to expand our world-class facility.”

A rendering shows what an expanded Fayetteville Public Library could look like when viewing the facility from the south. The driveway area shown would be located where Rock Street currently runs between School and West avenues. The building to the right of the image is the current facility, and the structures to the left are the expanded areas that cross onto the old City Hospital property, including an open-air plaza for outdoor events.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle

Fayetteville voters in August approved a measure to temporarily increase the library’s 1-mill property tax to 3.7 mills, which will generate about $26.5 million to put toward the $49 million expansion cost.

Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle (MSR), architects of the existing library facility, have been chosen to design the new building expansion and are currently in contract negotiations with the city. A construction management company for the expansion is expected to be chosen by the end of July.

Public input sessions will begin this fall to ask residents for their thoughts and ideas on the expansion plans.

Proposed ideas for the expansion include: doubling the size of youth services; adding more space to meet, study and collaborate; adding a stand-alone genealogy and local history space; adding a multi-purpose center; and doubling the number of covered parking spaces.

The new facility is expected to the completed by 2021.