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Packet House 

I've confirmed a rumor that a prospective buyer is looking over the vacant Packet House, the landmark 1871 mansion that sits between the Dillard's headquarters building and the Dillard's data processing center on Cantrell Road.

Parties say it's too early to speak definitively on the prospects for the building, now owned by Chambers Bank. The bank assumed ownership following financial turmoil for a previous owner. It has been used once in the past as a restaurant and that's one use apparently being contemplated again. It served as an office building for many years.

Contrary to talk circulating in the historic preservation community, two people familiar with the property say that preservation of the structure is anticipated, not demolition.

The 12,000-square-foot structure, listed by Flake-Kelley at $1 million, was built by Alexander McDonald, a banker, railroader and briefly a Republican senator from Arkansas during Reconstruction. Recent ads say it can be purchased for "substantial" discount on that price. It's been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978.

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