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No sale made on Exchange Building

Brad Kellar
Greenville Herald-Banner

A downtown landmark will remain in the hands of the City of Greenville.

City Manager Massoud Ebrahim said the city was unable to sell the Paul Mathews Exchange Building to the only bidder.

“The individual we had been negotiating with ... he could not secure long term leases with the tenants,” Ebrahim said.

In May, two bidders each offered more than $3 million for the structure. Pittman Commercial Properties of Dallas offered $3.2 million, while Bobby Hill offered $3.3 million, with $10,000 in earnest money deposited through Kincy Abstract and Sabine Title Company in Greenville.

Hill became the sole bidder after Pittman withdrew its offer.

The Greenville City Council voted March 25 to give Ebrahim and Mayor Steve Reid the authority to negotiate the sale of the building at market value.

Ebrahim said Hill was unable to receive financing for the purchase, since he could not obtain long term lease agreements with the existing tenants.

Ebrahim said it leaves the city with few options moving forward.

“We are going to meet with the tenants and see if we can secure long term leases with them,” he said. “We have no other choice but to retain the building at this time.”

According to the building’s historical marker, the first bank in Greenville was the private Hunt County Bank, organized in 1879.

The owners soon reorganized under the Federal Banking Act and the Greenville National Exchange Bank was chartered on Feb. 14, 1887. The name was shortened in the 1920s to the Greenville Exchange Bank and it was moved to the building at 2500 Stonewall Street in 1927.

During the next few decades, the building also housed an assortment of professional offices. In 1962, the name changed again to the First Greenville National Bank. A year later the building was remodeled.

In 1985 the building was closed as a banking institution. While some offices stayed open for a time, the building was completely vacant by the time the City of Greenville and the Board of Development joined forces to start a renovation project in early 2001, transforming the structure into a one-stop government center. The restoration was completed in 2003.

The building was renamed again to the Paul Mathews Exchange Building, in honor of the former bank president on the occasion of the late Mathews’ 100th birthday on January 3, 2004.

The building includes 32,108 square feet of rentable space among eight floors.

The renovations to the building were funded under $6.7 million in debt, which is scheduled to be paid off in 2028. Most of the original tenants’ 10-year leases expired in 2013.

One tenant has since renewed with a long-term lease agreement, with the remainder are under year-to-year leases or are under no lease agreements at all.

Ebrahim said the city is subsidizing the building with $271,000 in the current budget.

The Hunt County Tax Assessor-Collector’s Office is on a month-to-month lease on the ground floor, while the lease of the North Central Texas Workforce for the second and third floors expired at the end of March.

The offices represent more than $275,000 in lease revenue which is not guaranteed, potentially leaving the city on the hook for more than $576,000, equivalent to 4 to 5 cents on the property tax rate.