Bank’s building helps revitalize downtown

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Southern Bank Chairman and CEO Grey Morgan speaks to a crowd Wednesday during a groundbreaking ceremony for Southern Bank's new Rocky Mount facility downtown.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Southern Bank is showing its commitment to helping the revitalization of downtown Rocky Mount.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Wednesday morning for the construction of the bank’s new 18,000-square-foot-building on the corner of Church and Sunset streets. Michael Bryant, executive vice president and regional executive director for the bank’s west region that includes Rocky Mount, said the nearly $5 million project is scheduled to be completed by April 2016.

Bryant said the new facility will be the first new private construction project in downtown Rocky Mount in more than 20 years and will be among the largest of the bank’s branches. Bryant gave credit to retired longtime Southern Bank board member Frank Holden for having the vision to build the new bank building in the downtown area. He said Southern Bank has room in the new building to add more employees.

“We’ll build our office building and move our mortgage and our call center into the new building, and then at that point, we’re going into the building where our mortgage company is at right now,” he said. “We’ll renovate that whole building, and at that point, our branch (on Franklin Street) will move from where I’m located now.”

Grey Morgan, chief executive officer of Southern Bank, said the hope is the bank’s effort will spur more activity in the downtown area.

“We want to be a catalyst that will attract other companies that see we are committed to downtown and that this is a good place to be,” Morgan said. “The city of Rocky Mount has put its money into the downtown area to provide the infrastructure, and it’s our job as the private sector to do our part.”

Bryant said he has witnessed the decline of downtown during the past 30 years, but investments by the city in the past 10 years in projects such as the train station, Imperial Centre, Douglas Block and Streetscape have provided the groundwork for future development in downtown. Mayor David Combs said Southern Bank’s new facility and Edgecombe Community’s College’s $13 million investment for a new Biotechnology and Medical Simulation Center on its Rocky Mount campus highlights some of the new projects signaling positive changes happening in downtown. Combs said Gov. Pat McCrory mentioned how important it is for cities to be willing to invest and have a thriving downtown, which is a critical recruiting tool when convincing business leaders to relocate in North Carolina.

“This is part of an initiative that the city has been involved in many years, which is the downtown redevelopment,” Combs said. “I remember going back when I was a city councilman and from conversations with people, if they had their way they would have bulldozed downtown Rocky Mount. They didn’t think anybody would come back and do business in downtown Rocky Mount. We’re here today to prove them wrong.

“The governor came here a couple weeks ago to look at the ongoing Rocky Mount Brewmill project and toured downtown Rocky Mount. He stated how he has a hard time recruiting businesses to cities that don’t have a vision for their downtown area. We have a vision for downtown Rocky Mount, and we’re continuing to work on that on a daily basics.”

Turn-Key Contractors, owned by Nash County Commissioner Robbie Davis, is the contractor for the project. The architects of the new facility are Oakley Collier Architects and Mack Gay Associates.