Little Rock AME Zion Church has proposed paying the city $590,000 for the building next door that currently houses the Afro American Cultural Center.

The offer was unanimously approved Wednesday by the city council’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Committee, said John Lassiter, who sits on that committee with fellow council members Susan Burgess, James Mitchell, Michael Barnes and Warren Cooksey.

The full council could take up the proposal in as little as two weeks, Lassiter said.

Under the proposed plan, money collected from the sale would be given to the endowment campaign for the new Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture, which is under construction at Tryon and Stonewall streets.

“This transaction is a win for everyone,” Lassiter told

Asked whether he anticipates opposition, he said, “I hope not. We had unanimity on the committee, which is made up of both Republicans and Democrats. There may be folk who want to apply that money a different way.”

Lassiter said helping the Gantt endowment would be a good use for the money, given the center’s importance to the city’s travel and tourism industry.

In addition to the money collected from the sale, the city would save $50,000 a year pledged for capital maintenance expenses over the next 10 years.

The city would keep the open space immediately behind the former church, as well as two small structures nearby, Lassiter said.

Officials at Little Rock AME Zion could not be immediately reached for comment.

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