PALO PINTO – A property exchange between Palo Pinto County and NSC Properties LP could soon happen after county commissioners Tuesday opened two bid proposals.

County officials have been in discussions with NSC Properties, and owners Randy and Misty Nix, about a deal involving the Poston's Building on North Oak Avenue in downtown Mineral Wells and the former Bank of America building.

The county owns the Poston's Building and uses it as a county annex facility, housing a satellite motor vehicle registration office and other county offices including Pct. 5 Justice of the Peace, the JP's courtroom, Pct. 5 constable and juvenile probation.

For several weeks the county advertised for bids to sell, or exchange, Poston's and the former county Pct. 1 barn at 1200 South Oak Avenue. The county in June rejected two bids for that property because they came in below appraised value. The 0.22-acre tract includes the deteriorating wooden building used as the precinct barn nearly two decades ago.

Adjacent property owner Thomas Sims Jr. once again submitted a bid, but only for the South Oak Avenue property, offering the county $53,176.18. He said he would like to remove the eyesore that is the barely standing barn and expand his car sales business.

Sims was one of the two bidders earlier this year for the South Oak Avenue property, which is on the tax rolls valued at $31,890.

The county has been wanting to expand to relieve crowding in the main Palo Pinto courthouse. Commissioners were looking at using one of the buildings at Dempsey heliport for some county offices, including sheriff's administrative offices, but have had to weigh infrastructure and other renovation cost factors after it was determined the water tower was not usable in its present condition.

NSC Properties purchased the former Bank of America building at 100 S.E. 6th Avenue in January 2018, shortly after Mineral Wells voters rejected a nearly $6 million bond proposal to renovate the property into a new city hall. The city had proposed buying the property from the previous owner for $1.2 million, with the remainder going into renovation costs.

The proposal placed by NSC Properties is to give the county the bank property in exchange for Poston's and the South Oak Avenue property, plus the county would pay NSC Properties $1.26 million at closing.

Poston's is on the appraisal district tax rolls with a listed valuation of $383,410. NSC's bid assigned a value of $450,000 for Poston's and $31,890 for the South Oak Avenue site, its tax-appraised value.

NSC's proposal puts the bank property's market valuation at around $1.75 million. Currently empty, the appraisal district lists the BofA property's taxable value at $668,870.

The county has set aside $3 million in capital improvement funds in the current year's budget. County Judge Shane Long and Pct. 4 County Commissioner Jeff Fryer will meet with Nix about his proposal in the coming days. The county plans to decide on the bid proposals at its next regularly scheduled meeting on Nov.25.

County officials will likely discuss with the city its evaluation of the former bank property as well as conduct its own review. The city had proposed in its bond package replacing the building's roof and HVAC system. Elevator and ADA-accessible restrooms were also cited as needing updates and repairs.

Nix has said the bank property would be a perfect government or educational center. He had talks with Weatherford College about using it for a new Mineral Wells campus. Those talks stalled during a time when the college was searching for a new president, and then they effectively ended.

There are obstacles to overcome if WC is to open, or build, a satellite campus in Palo Pinto County. Its current campus is in a Parker County portion of Mineral Wells at Wolters Industrial Park. The college this year began offering some evening classes at Mineral Wells High School.

Conceptual plans for downtown Mineral Wells called for moving the county annex off North Oak Avenue and using that property for commercial or retail use more in line with the downtown's renovation efforts.

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