FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — The old Jefferson Elementary School building is about to have a new future after the Fayetteville Public School District sold the building to a local nonprofit. However, some community members have a lot of concerns about the future of the building.

The school sits at the corner of College Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard on the south side of Fayetteville.

“It was built in the 1930s,” said Megan Duncan, Deputy Superintendent at FPS.

“My parent’s church is right down the street right around the corner and I have a lot of friends that attended here,” said Fayetteville resident Veronica Huff.

The building has been the Adult Education Center for FPS for more than a decade. Duncan said the district did a feasibility study a few years ago looking at all its facilities. Jefferson came up as a red flag.

“Is this a place that could function in the future as potentially an operational elementary school and it was determined at that time that this particular building did not have enough capacity space, without a significant remodeling and a significant investment, to bring it up to code to meet ADA requirements,” she said.

Huff spoke at the FPS board meeting back in July, urging the district to save the building. She said it’s especially important to Fayetteville’s Black community.

“After integration, a majority of the blacks who were descendants of the enslaved attended here and so it’s become a very important symbol,” she said.

She said she is sad to see the amount of gentrification happening on the south side of town.

“All of the homes that have been here for years, historic homes even, and they’re being removed. A lot of people are being displaced because their property taxes and stuff are increasing,” she said.

FPS sold the building to Potter’s House, which is a local nonprofit with a mission to connect communities across socioeconomic and cultural lines. Potter’s House operates three thrift stores, one in Fayetteville, Springdale and Siloam Springs, and does community programming.

“We had one donor that came along and said he’d like to purchase the property for Potter’s House,” said Shawn Schwartzman, founder and president of Potter’s House.

The price tag to purchase Jefferson was $1.86 million.

He said the idea for Potter’s House started at Jefferson as his wife was doing her teaching degree there 25 years ago. He said after meeting people in the area, they decided to start the nonprofit as a way to build connections in the community. Preserving Jefferson’s history is a priority because it’s also personal.

“That’s where we started and we would as a group, we’d go and eat in the cafeteria and we’d have a meal together,” he said. “We really wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to be torn down, that it wasn’t going to become apartments. We wanted to see that building repurposed for what it was for so long and what as we’ve talked to people in the community, what the community wants it to be.”

He said they see the building becoming a multi-use space that includes a preschool, after-school tutoring, and a place of education, innovation and job creation.

While the building won’t be torn down, Huff wants to make sure it will still be a diverse community hub that is a safe place for all, no matter their religion, sexual orientation or skin color.

She also hopes that Potter’s House will continue to work with long-time residents and members of the Black community as it moves forward.

Schwartzman said they are currently in the process of developing the renovation plan. He said they are raising money for the renovation costs. You can donate through their website or by emailing Shawn at shawn@phnwa.com.