The Park at West End in downtown Fort Smith has new owners. Chris and Paige McCoy of Fort Smith bought the park, known for its historic Ferris Wheel and vintage, hand-painted carousel, at auction Thursday morning (Aug. 12).
Comments on a post on the Facebook page of Looper Auction and Realty II LLC, which conducted the auction, said the park sold for $210,000. Phil White, the former owner of the park, said it sold for “about 25 cents on the dollar.” No predictions were made on a sale price for the park prior to the auction, but more than $1 million has been invested in the property since it opened, Looper Auction and Realty said prior to the auction.
“They got a good deal,” White said. “I’m real happy. It’s a win for everyone, for them, for the community and for me.”
Chris McCoy is the owner and president of McCoy Roof Co. Paige McCoy posted a video Thursday after the auction, saying the couple had just bought a park and are excited about future plans.
Zach Looper with Looper Auction and Realty said there had been lots of interest in the park leading up to the auction and there were three “really solid bidders.”
“A local guy bought it and they have some really great plans. They talked about maybe using it as an event (venue),” Looper said. “They are going to keep it open, and it’s going to stay like it is for a long time.”
White said the new owners also discussed the possibility of opening a restaurant.
“I’m happy the park will stay looking like it is downtown and be used,” White said.
The sale was made on condition that the improvements and fixtures at the park – the Ferris wheel, the railroad car and the carousel – remain on the lot for at least 10 years. The park includes a refurbished Pullman railcar, which has been used as a diner, a double decker used as a snack bar and a mural by United Kingdom artist D*Face!, painted as part of the Unexpected mural project. The Ferris wheel, which was installed at the park in 2005, was first used at the World’s Fair in San Diego in 1935. The Bertazzon carousel was made in Italy.
The Fort Smith Board of Directors voted in December 2009 to lease the park from owner and Fort Smith businessman Phil White. The city has done so since for $1 a year, White said. White operated the park for two years and had a third-party operate it for a year prior to leasing it to the city.
In the past the city has offered rides on the Ferris wheel or carousel for $1. The park was closed through the 2020 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Doug Reinert, the city’s director parks and recreation, told the Fort Smith Parks and Recreation Commission in May that his department was having difficulty filling open positions in the department to care for the city’s parks and thus would not open the Park at West End this year.